“Grace and Elegance” / Jazz Times
“Wonderful, soaring with jazzy lyricism” / Downbeat
“Poetic…masterful…control and richness…poignant” /All About Jazz
The Austin American Statesman says of jazz singer Suzi Stern; “Stern has learned the great secret that transcends art – that the voice from the heart is at the center of all virtuosity.”
The combination of Stern’s emotional clear voice, flying over her uncatagorizable compositions with her poignant lyrics creates a magic that moves the listener and is unforgettable. Jazz pianist and Columbia Records recording artist Denny Zeitlin says of Stern “It has been years since a singer has affected me so profoundly. Suzi has it all: a fantastic vocal instrument, effortless musicality, and a special way of working with the material and evoking the deepest emotions.”
Suzi was born in Buffalo, the daughter of jazz violinist Harry Stern who toured with The Vaughn Monroe big band and was leader of his own orchestras in Western New York of which Suzi’s mother was the featured singer.
Her maternal grandfather spent his life touring in Vaudeville as a comic acrobat sharing the bill with the likes of a young Frank Sinatra, The Marx Brothers, George Burns and Bob Hope. Living in a family where creative outpourings were encouraged and being able to hear her fathers musicians come over for post gig jams gave Stern a clear sense that music was her true love at a very early age. Growing up in a home with music as its’ centerpiece, studies in classical voice, piano, classical guitar, flute and dance (studying at The American Ballet Theatre School and Joffrey Ballet School in NYC) were part of everyday life, but her most inspired learning experience came later and was undoubtedly with vocal wizard Bobby McFerrin.
Stern has released 7 CD’s to date under her own name (Viewpoint Records, Aardvark Records and Bus Biscuit Records), and has performed on a myriad of other artists projects. Her latest release “Romancing the Dark” steps out of the jazz idiom for which she is known, and is a collection of her own original compositions and arrangements based on eleven poems by Stern.
In review of “Romancing…” Jazz Times reviewer H. Allen Williams states that “Stern’s musical style pallet is wide…a testament to her wide reaching command of many styles and her ability to match a musical mood to the feeling of her words.”
She is a published poet and her lyrics appear in the Bill Evans second edition fake book and David Friesen’s book of transcriptions called ” Years Through Time”, both Hal Leonard publications.
Suzi has penned lyrics to a plethora of classic jazz compositions not typically sung and has collaborated with numerous contemporary artists on their works such as Denny Zeitlin’s “Quiet Now” Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus” and Joshua Redman’s “Hide and Seek” which have been recorded by artists worldwide.
Some of Stern’s musical colleagues and collaborators of note have been: Denny Zeitlin, David Friesen, Joe Henderson, Mal Waldron, Joshua Redman, Leroy Vinegar, Jesseca Williams, Helen Sung, George Mitchell, Bob Rodriguez, Steve Varner, Bud Shank, Peggy Stern, Jay Clayton, Jerry Hahn, Nancy King, Peter Stolzmann, Harvie S, Stefan Karlsson, Randy Porter, Doug Hall, Arjen Gorter, Mitch Watkins to name only a handful.
Stern and her partner pianist-composer George Oldziey are the producers of a jazz house concert series known as Casa Karen in Austin Texas which has become known as the best venue for acoustic jazz in central Texas with it’s 9 foot concert grand piano as the center piece. This series has attracted touring artists over the past 8 years the likes of Eddie Gomez, Alex Sipiagin, Stan Killian, Fred Hamilton, Rich Perry, Don Edwards, Ed Soph, David Amram, Roseanna Vitro, Mark Soskin, Dean Johnson, Tim Horner, Carmen Bradford and many of the best artists from the Austin area.
When not traveling to perform, Stern teaches in her home town of Austin Texas where she is one of the most sought after vocal coaches in the area. She has led singing clinics all over the US and workshops specifically on improvisation and “Finding Your True Voice” in Buffalo, NYC, Amsterdam, Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis and Austin extensively.
Here’s a list of some of the illustrious performers that Stern has performed with, recorded and / or collaborated with:
Denny Zeitlin, David Friesen, Rick Margitza, Bill Watrous, A.D. Manion, Shiela Jordon, Jay Clayton, Peggy Stern, Harvie S, Red Mitchell, Leroy Vinegar, Martin Banks, Helen Sung, Joe Henderson, Tina Marsh, John Stowell. Randy Porter, Alan Jones, Arjen Gorter, Leo Baumeister, Martin Van Danoven, Jeff Johnson, Jay Anderson, Bobby Militello, Bruce Saunders, Bruce Hall, Doug Hall, Horacio Rodrigues, John Mills, Jeff Helmer, John Fremgen, Paul Ostermayer, Cyro Baptista, Duduka Da Fonseca, Mal Waldron, Clay Moore,Dick Berk, George Mitchell, Glen Moore,Alex Coke, Peter Stolzman, Mitch Watkins, Stefan Kalsson, Terry Clark, Bill Mays, Bill Ginn, Roscoe Beck, Steve Meador, John Treanor, Dave Morgan, J.J. Johnson, Gabriel Santiago, Paul McKey, Mike Longoria, Dennis Dotson, Adrian Ruiz, Seth Carper, Luis Coutinhu, Jimmy Shortell, Steve Schwelling, Sebastian Whittaker, Rob Lockhart, Paul Unger, Dave Monsch, George Oldziey, Tony Campese, Brannen Temple, Wayne Salzmann, Paul English, Chris Maresh, Mike Koenig, Terry Bowness, Brad Terry, Bobby Torres, Rick McCray, John Steinman, Slim Richie, Will Taylor, Gary Hobbs, Elias Haslanger, Woody Witt, Bob Mayer, Dave Captien, Jessica Williams, Frederick Sanders,Tomas Ramirez, Faulkner Evans, Scott Laningham, Spencer Starnes, Pat Harris, Dan Schulte, Art Resnick, Rich Harney, Glen Schutz, Hope Morgan, Russ Scanlan, Mike Sailors, Dr. James Polk, Eddie Hobizol, Sue Terry, Wynton Reynolds, David Craig, Edwin Livingston, Glen Rexache, Rob Kazenel, Mady Kaye, Beth Ullman, Dianne Donovan, Jerry Hahn, Luis Garza, Eric Avinger, Brennen Nase, Douglas Harvey, Randy Zimmerman.
Sign up for Suzi’s occasional Blogs and receive her musings, poems and photos: Click Here for Suzi’s Blog