Press Release - November 2009
Michele Thomas – MESSENGER
"(She) has her own vocal sound, which is beautiful by the Grace of God."
Yusef Lateef, legendary jazz artist, Grammy award winner
Jazz vocalist, Michele Thomas releases her sophomore album, MESSENGER this coming January. (Along with a digital release which is currently available from her website.) The much-anticipated album -- by the singer whose background includes over a decade of teaching as gospel choir conductor and private music instructor -- showcases Thomas at the top of her game. Her dazzling versatility in song interpretation is unequaled; a talent, which is richly on display in each and every song.
The project emerged following a period of intense soul-searching for Thomas. Creatively revitalized after years of working to establish her name in the Chicago jazz scene with her debut album, I’LL TAKE ROMANCE”, as well as serving a prosperous term as the founder/conductor of her alma mater’s gospel choir at North Park University (For which she was recently awarded an “Up and Coming” Alumni award for her work there…) -- she announced the desire to collaborate on her next recording project featuring what she considered some of the most profound works of Stevie Wonder – a project that would illuminate the spiritual side of this secular artist and expose what Michele has always felt Stevie Wonder to be – a “messenger” of social and political change in our world.
Michele’s unique mixture of musical influences comes through in this newest album which takes on some of Stevie Wonder’s finest pieces—songs carefully hand-picked by Thomas—that demonstrate the spiritual but also provocative nature of what was a great portion of Wonder’s body of work.
"MESSENGER" sheds light on the introspective mind and spirit of Stevie Wonder—these reinterpreted pieces are transported through the contemplative soul-tinged and energized vocals of Michele Thomas. For this project, Thomas enlisted her most trusted and long-time collaborators: arranger Neal Alger, noted guitarist and member of Patricia Barber’s quartet – and musical director, drummer & percussionist Darren Scorza, who also debuts his role as producer of this album.
Michele also puts together a new group of musicians to perform on the album, including some of Chicago’s finest such as bassist Bob Lovecchio, pianist Chris Mahieu, saxophonist Matt Shevitz and trumpeter Joe Lill. Classics such as “Higher Ground” are given a “Shaft-esque” treatment of epic proportions with lilting horn sections, while more obscure tracks like “They Won’t Go When I Go” and “Big Brother” explore the most contemporary sounds of the Afro-pop movement. But the exploration does not stop there, as Michele displays the works of two other jazz composers -- Hal Galper and Enrico Pieranunzi, of which she lends her lyrical supplementation to their instrumental originals, “Triple Play” and the lovely bossa, “Dee Song”.
Moreover, Michele has a deeply vested love affair with the improvisational spirit in music--the one that drives not only jazz but all its’ multiple infusions of gospel, R&B, blues, and rock—all of which have been at the bedrock of true American classical music, but that also spoke to Michele’s many musical influences ranging from gospel greats such as Vanessa Bell Armstrong and BeBe & CeCe Winans, to singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Sting, on to the soul-stirrers like Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye, all the way to the definitive jazz singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn.
For Thomas, creating and recording MESSENGER was truly a labor of love. Michele reflects of her song choices that, “I’ve always appreciated that Stevie Wonder challenged the status quo when it came to social justice and religion as it relates to spirituality.” I was both amazed and unsettled with how directly relevant the messages in his music are, even in our current times. Seems to me those messages bear repeating…”.
Darren Scorza: Drums
Nela Alger: Guitar
Bob Lovecchio: Bass
Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Anita Baker, Ray Charles, Dianne Reeves, Kurt Elling, James Taylor, Donny Hathaway, Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Carmen McRae, Sting, Al Green, and much, much more...
What to Expect
Typical Gig Duration: 60 - 150 minutes
If you are a lover of jazz, smooth jazz, adult contemporary or easy listening - expect that with even more soulfulness from The Michele Thomas Jazz Quartet. Any event where sophistication and class is called for, we are a perfect fit. It's like bringing the jazz club experience into your very own event!
We pride ourselves on having some of Chicago's finest up and coming musicians who are versatile and cover the a wide variety of contemporary music styles. And Michele Thomas continues to move audiences with rich, velvety vocals and the essence of jazz improvisation. If you truly love good music, you will appreciate this group!
Sample Set List:
(A full song list can be provided to the client)
#2 - The Look Of Love
#8 - I’ll Take Romance
#42 – Devil May Care
#43 – Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars
#14 – Have A Talk With God
#7 - Overjoyed
#59 – Peel Me A Grape
#60 – Prelude To A Kiss
#3 - Baby I Love You
#22 – Hallelujah I Love Him So
#86 – This Masquerade
#10 - If It’s Magic
#35 – Let’s Stay Together
#69 – Lullaby Of Birdland
#93 – Alice In Wonderland
#99 – Once I Loved
#15 – I’ve Got You Under My Skin
#72 – Dindi
#27 – Bye Bye Blackbird
#21 – Let’s Fall In Love
#48 – Same Ole Love
#85 – Sunrise*
#30 –Georgia On My Mind
#49 – I Can’t Help It
#51 – The Way You Look Tonight
#12 - Dee Song
#68 – I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
#16 – At Last
#44 – Have You Met Mister Jones?
#11 – Lost Mind
#46 – All The Things You Are
#87 – When Sunny Gets Blue
#84 – Stella By Starlight
#80 – Born To Be Blue
Past Booked Dates:
12-18-2010 — Lake Forest Club - Lake Forest, IL
12-11-2010 — Hotel Sofetel - Chicago, IL
12-08-2010 — Hyatt Regency - Chicago, IL
12-04-2010 — Exmoor Country Club - Highland Park, IL
11-20-2010 — Field Museum - Chicago, IL
11-13-2010 — Oak Brook Hills Country Club - Oak Brook, IL
11-06-2010 — Marriott Burr Ridge - Burr Ridge, IL
10-23-2010 — Park Ridge Country Club - Park Ridge, IL
10-22-2010 — Oak Ridge Country Club - LaSalle, IL
10-16-2010 — Four Seasons Hotel - Chicago, IL
09-11-2010 — Lake Forest Academy - Lake Forest, IL
09-03-2010 — Coq D'Or Room at The Drake Hotel - Chicago, IL
08-28-2010 — Bay Harbor Yacht Club - Petoskey, MI
08-21-2010 — Got Spaghetti? Restuarant - Chicago, IL
08-19-2010 — Coq D'Or Room at The Drake Hotel - Chicago, IL
08-14-2010 — Vernon Hills Country Club - Vernon Hills, IL
08-07-2010 — Got Spaghetti? Restuarant - Chicago, IL
07-17-2010 — Byron Colby Barn - Grayslake, IL
07-16-2010 — Coq D'Or Room at The Drake Hotel - Chicago, IL
07-15-2010 — Coq D'Or Room at The Drake Hotel - Chicago, IL
07-14-2010 — Coq D'Or Room at The Drake Hotel - Chicago, IL
07-09-2010 — Coq D'Or Room at The Drake Hotel - Chicago, IL
07-08-2010 — Coq D'Or Room at The Drake Hotel - Chicago, IL
07-07-2010 — Coq D'Or Room at The Drake Hotel
06-26-2010 — Got Spaghetti? Restuarant - Chicago, IL
06-19-2010 — Private Residence - Invernes, IL
06-18-2010 — Holiday Inn Mart Plaza - Chicago, IL
06-17-2010 — Maternity S.M.V. School - Chicago, IL
06-12-2010 — Kemper Lakes Country Club - Kildeer, IL
Available for Your
Anniversary Party, Awards Night, Band Member Wanted, Birthday Party, Casino, Casting Call, Christmas Party, Church Service, Club/Nightclub, Concert Venue, Convention, Corporate Event, Cruise, Dinner Dance, Ethnic Celebration, Fair, Festival, Fundraiser, Holiday Party, Hotel, Launch Party, Luncheon/Tea, Private Party, Restaurant, Seminar, Studio Session, Trade Show, Wedding Ceremony, Wedding Reception, Workshop
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