"I haven't been so excited about a project like this in a long time. [Kavita] is a real, true musician. She's a great singer... but the way she writes music, she's not really thinking just about the voice. It sounds like it could be a horn player, a saxophone player..." - Lionel Loueke
The Vermont Jazz Center launches its new Emerging Artist season with a choice that perfectly fits their concept. The goal of the series is to present young musicians who deserve to be heard, individuals who are on the cutting edge, performing original, fresh, high quality music; artists with unfamiliar names whose personal statements are moving the music forward. Kavita Shah is all of the above and more. A talented singer, she is a tireless organizer with a vision and a body of work that challenges the definition of jazz while at the same time paying deep respect to its lineage.
Shah will be performing with her New York-based ensemble: Kavita Shah (USA) vocals and percussion, Yacouba Sissoko (Mali) on kora, Guy Mintus (Israel), piano, Or Bareket (Israel), bass, Kenneth Salters (USA), drums.
Kavita's vision is eclectic and unified at the same time, incorporating the numerous elements that when combined form the essence of her complex persona: Brazilian sambas, African grooves, bebop, jazz standards, hip hop and a deep family connection to the music of India. Through innovative compositions and arrangements in English, Spanish, and Portuguese (she is fluent in all three), Ms. Shah effectively transcends the static brand of 'fusion.' Instead, elements of jazz, Indian, and African music are able to interact on equal footing. "We have one sound," says the co-producer of her upcoming debut album, guitarist, Lionel Loueke. Her ambitiously diverse repertoire ranges from Stevie Wonder to Joni Mitchell to Wayne Shorter to a traditional Indian raga. "You listen to the CD from the beginning to the end, and even if the textures are different, the vibe from the top to the end is not surprising. It has a unity."
Hailed by Downbeat as Best Graduate Jazz Vocalist (2012) and winner of an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award (2013), Kavita Shah will perform at the Vermont Jazz Center in celebration of her upcoming, debut album "Visions." This recording features the traditional sounds of the Indian tablas and West African kora interlaced with those of a jazz quintet.
Ms. Shah, whose parents emigrated to New York from Mumbai in the 1970s, grew up in Manhattan. She studied classical piano from age 5 and performed regularly at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center from age 10 as a member of the award-winning Young People's Chorus of NYC, with whom she sang in over 15 languages. At home, she was exposed to Hindi film music and the Beatles, and on the radio, to 90s hip-hop. "By the time I was a teenager, I was getting deeper into jazz, bossa nova, and Cuban son," says Shah. "And at the same time, I'd be premiering pieces by Meredith Monk at Lincoln Center! I realize now how lucky I was to spend my formative years at the nexus of so many different cultures."
She went on to major in Latin American Studies at Harvard, where she received accolades for her ethnographic research on Afro and her Master's in Jazz Voice from Manhattan School of Music. An active member of New York's jazz community, Ms. Shah regularly performs at such venues as Cornelia Street Café, Bar Next Door, 55 Bar, Shapeshifter Lab, Minton's Playhouse, NuBlu, Nuyorican Poets Café, University Club, Harvard Club, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She has toured abroad in France, Belgium, Germany, and Poland, where was a semifinalist in the 2011 Voicingers International Jazz Competition.
Through innovative compositions and arrangements in English, Spanish,
and Portuguese (she is fluent in all three), Ms. Shah effectively transcends the static brand of 'fusion' located at the intersection of East and West. Instead, elements of jazz, Indian, and African music are able to interact on equal footing.
"Her music is natural," adds Loueke. "Her singing is very unique and natural. She's not trying hard to make it sound good, because it's natural; it already sounds good." And it is ultimately Ms. Shah's effortlessly soothing, versatile vocals that guide the "Visions" listener on a deeply poignant, personal journey, one that leaves us with the distinct sensation that this is the sound of something new. "Visions" will be released in early 2014.
The Vermont Jazz Center is proud to present Kavita Shah as the first performer in their Emerging Artist series. General admission to this concert is $10. Ticket prices are reduced thanks to a generous contribution from an anonymous patron from the Vermont Jazz Center Summer Workshop, who is delighted to witness and encourage Kavita's exponential growth. This concert is also made possible thanks to the support of the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, VPR and WFCR.
"A masterful vocalist with a deep, personal connection to the music."
- Sheila Jordan, NEA Jazz Master
"A musician's singer... always taking risks and searching for new levels of
understanding. Her music defies categorization."
- Steve Wilson, Grammy-winning saxophonist
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In the Moment, 143 Main St, Brattleboro, VT
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