Numerous artists have paged through the Great American Songbook. And then there’s Sylvia Brooks, whose warmth and charm, combined with a commanding stage presence and sonic clarity have set her head-and-shoulders above the rest.
A Florida native, creativity and classic musicianship are in her blood. The combination of her father, a jazz stalwart, playing with such giants as Stan Getz, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan and Dizzie Gillespie, and her mother, a trained opera singer, who also dazzled audiences at the Fontainebleau and the Eden Roc, left little doubt that Sylvia’s growth as an artist in her own right would see her come to embody that unique parentage.
Striking out on her own for the first time, Sylvia was drawn to the stage, joining the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. A series of national tours and periods spent with other companies ensued, but seeking further artistic fulfillment eventually brought her back to the musical fold, the wellspring of her personal expression and joy.
Solidly ensconced in the cabaret tradition of such stellar torch singers like Lena Horne (her personal idol), Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington, Sylvia has taken the role of “jazz singer” in an entirely new direction, whether listening to her debut album "Dangerous Liaisons" or her new album, “Restless. In "Restless" Sylvia and her arranger Kim Richmond have melded the moody world of deadly dames, flawed heroes and the dreamers of broken dreams with staccato rhythms, percussive strings and seductive horns, and created an entirely new genre she calls Jazz Noir. And all this without ceding the stage to the music, but rather, remaining steadfastly in front of it—all the better to act as a bridge between the musicians and her audience, and in the process, slyly exploit the frisson between the traditional and the contemporary to stunning—and unexpected—effect.