You could tell by the smiles on the musicians backing singer Johnaye Kendrick in the KNKX studios, they really enjoy working with her. Since her arrival teaching at Cornish College nearly a decade ago, Kendrick is proving to be a musician's singer.
When it comes down to it, though, Kendrick is a musician. She's spent years studying jazz, including the Thelonious Monk Institute and Loyola University. Now a Professor of Music in Seattle, her bio at Cornish refers exclusively to her jazz bona fides. But she grew up listening to pop music.
Kendrick's first instrument was a piano, which she hated, but her love of music found homes on the violin and viola in high school. As a young woman, Mariah Carey was a favorite. Eventually, the music of Sarah Vaughan lured her to the world of jazz.
Live in the KNKX studios to celebrate her new album Flying, Johnaye Kendrick showed off composing skills honed working with trumpet star Nicholas Payton in New Orleans. "Scorpion" is a bouncy song that mixes her loves of jazz and pop music. Kendrick's commanding delivery and skilled improvisation skills will leave you thinking it's a forgotten pop gem.
The two standards she chose, both on the Flying CD, showed off a love of the vintage lyrics as well as technical chops that put Kendrick near the top of the list of talented Northwest jazz singers.
Nat Cole's hit "The Lonely One" was a marvel of vocal range, and also worked as a nice feature for Kendrick's harmonium playing. "It Could Happen to You" picked up the pace and gave us an example of how closely great singers can work with band mates. Bill Anschell, Chris Symer and D'Vonne Lewis proved they were up to the challenge.
Thanks to Cornish College for bringing Johnaye Kendrick's amazing talent to our corner of the world. Her students surely appreciate her talents, now it's time for the rest of the jazz world to get hip.