Amandah's second CD - take the sound samples for a spin!
The Scanner Newspaper
July 19, 2001
FIVE STARS (out of five)
By Dick Bogle
Jantzen's Promise Evident on 'Devil May Care'
This CD needs to be placed in the hands of major festival producers and owners of big time jazz clubs.
Amandah Jantzen has the requisite talent for a heady career with all the bright lights, awards and reputation as befits a top notch jazz singer. She just needs to be heard.
This release, her second, is a good follow to "Some Other Time." Here, she creates a bond and an intimacy with the listener on each of the 11 tracks.
"Besame Mucho" has been recorded hundreds of times but it's doubtful if any exceed Jantzen's treatment. Her first chorus is done in English but the second is in eloquent Spanish. It is a perfect example of how her singing manages to assimilate a certain sexiness but not ever to the degree that detracts from either the lyric or melody.
As easily as she caresses such languid ballads as "Early Autumn," "How Insensitive" and "What'll I Do?" she belts out an up tempo "It's Alright With Me."
This former Portland resident now working in Spokane, uses some very good Canadian sidemen including pianist Chris Sigerson, who also was heard on her earlier release. This is a definite audience pleaser.
- Dick Bogle
LA Jazz Scene
By Scott Yanow (AMG, JazzTimes)
Although there has been a longtime shortage of male jazz vocalists, there are scores of very talented female jazz singers scattered all over this continent. Amandah Jantzen's second recording for her Starfire label (P.O. Box 12022, Portland, OR 97212-0022) is even a little better than her notable debut Some Other Time. Her voice is quite appealing, she is expressive without altering the melody or lyrics much, and she has no difficulty swinging with her fine backup group.
Joined by pianist Chris Sigerson, bassist Ken Lister, Craig Scott on drums and vibes, guitarist Ihor Kukurudza and Al Wold on clarinet, tenor and baritone, Amandah Jantzen sounds quite happy swinging through the 11 standards. The only reservation that I have is that most of the songs have been performed many times through the years (particularly"Cheek To Cheek," "It's Alright With Me," "Summertime" and "It's A Wonderful World") although the singer is able to make the material sound fairly fresh. Perhaps next time she should include some obscurities; the closest she comes this time around is "I Was Telling Him About You." Since Amandah Jantzen is based in Portland, she is long overdue to perform in the Los Angeles area. Hopefully some clubowner will look into bringing her south so local jazz fans can enjoy her music in person in the future.
All Music Guide
FOUR STARS (out of five)
By Dave Nathan
Amandah Jantzen's second album documents considerable progress toward becoming an outstanding, articulate interpreter of classics from the Great American Songbook. She is ably assisted by first rate personnel and simple, straightforward arrangements which give these oft recorded tunes a fresh perspective. Janzten never gets in a rut as she treats each tune as if it were the only one on the CD. Each one gets distinctive attention, avoiding the trap of predictability. On "Summertime," she is sultry, sassy, and swinging. On "Cheek to Cheek," with its footloose rhythm, Janzten adds some humor by modifying the lyrics. The requisite music from Brazil is here, with one of the gems of that genre, "How Insensitive." As much as any, this tune spotlights Jantzen's appreciation for the lyrics she is singing as she gives each word its due. There's also that slight catch in the voice leaving a hint of sensuality. "What'll I Do?" indicates a simple innocence in some of the directions Jantzen takes the music. Then there are the sidemen who are not just along to backstop the singer - though they do a commendable job of that - but have plenty of opportunities to express their ideas about virtually every track. Al Wold, with his Zoot Sims-like tenor and occasional foray on clarinet, Craig Scott's vibes, and Ihor Kukurudza's clean, strummed guitar all have their moments in the sun, while Chris Sigerson does yeoman work making sure matters stay the course. They all remain with the mood set for the album, staying relaxed, sensitive, and gently expressive. There's no instrumental bursting or bombing before, during, or after a vocal refrain. This is a fine twinkling album from a vocalist who grows with every note she sings.
- Dave Nathan
Jazz and popular music are overloaded with "overnight successes" who gain a great deal of attention when they burst upon the scene, only to slip away into obscurity within a short time. Amandah Jantzen is the complete opposite. Throughout her career she has gradually earned a strong reputation while mastering her craft. She is a singer who, once experienced, one never forgets.
Amandah has the rare ability to uplift standards and make vintage songs sound fresh, new and topical. Her warm voice and swinging style, combined with a large repertoire, result in consistently memorable performances. She is never shy to embrace melodies and lyrics from the Great American Songbook, bringing out the hidden beauty in both, but her renditions are never predictable. She is a jazz singer yet is also quite accessible to a wide audience.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Amandah was drawn to music from an early age. Although she occasionally performed at jam sessions and in piano bars, she primarily worked outside of music until 1986. By then, having discovered in turn Al Jarreau, Linda Ronstadt's Nelson Riddle recordings, Nancy Wilson and Sarah Vaughan, Amandah knew that she simply had to sing jazz. She relocated to Portland, Oregon five years later and became active locally, performing in jazz clubs and at concerts. She was particularly inspired by bassist Leroy Vinnegar and guitarist Charlie Byrd, developing into the warm and highly expressive singer that she is today. Byrd convinced Amandah that she should accompany herself on piano, a move which has added to the appeal and musicality of her performances.
Amandah Jantzen's singing is well showcased on her three recordings, Some Other Time, Devil May Care and My Secret Love. She is also featured on a third of the songs on the Ellen Vanderslice compilation, Once in A Blue Moon, and half of the tunes on The Standard Vanderslice. Her newest CD, Northern Star/The Singapore Sessions was released in mid-2007. Because of the quality of these recordings and the popularity of her live engagements, I have picked Amandah as one of the top 500 jazz singers of all time and have included her in my book, The Jazz Singers, published by Backbeat Books in October, 2008.
In addition to working in Portland (including long-term bookings at both the Doubletree and Heathman Hotels), Amandah has performed at extended engagements in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, at the Salishan Golf Resort on the Oregon Coast, at the Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and at the historic Ankeny's Restaurant on the top floor of the Ridpath Hotel in Spokane, Washington. She has also been featured at the Du Maurier Jazz Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Florida with tenor-saxophonist Turk Mauro and multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, at Bally’s Casino in Las Vegas, and has opened concerts for both Mc Coy Tyner and Charlie Byrd. She has been building a growing following in Key West, Florida as well over the past few years.
Internationally, she’s worked two engagements in Singapore, with multiple extensions that kept her busy for 15 months, culminating in the recording of her most recent (Northern Star) CD. Continuing her tour of Asia, she then performed extended bookings in Seoul, South Korea; Bali, Indonesia; New Delhi, India; Shanghai, China; Bangkok, Thailand; and most recently, Hanoi, Vietnam. Additionally, in early 2008, she was featured in the Emirates Air Jazz Vocal Concert Series at Nardis Jazz Club in Istanbul, Turkey.
In early 2006 she placed second in the 5th Annual Jazz Connect International Vocal Competition. She has also developed a steady base of “House Concert” appearances in the US as well as working several jazz venues inbetween her long term bookings in Asia.
An enthusiastic and charismatic performer who is also subtle, Amandah Jantzen is a constant joy, both musically and personally. She is on her way to becoming a major name in the overlapping worlds of jazz, cabaret and classic American pop music.
Biography by: Scott Yanow, Los Angeles, CA