“An absolutely fabulous voice... it's really refreshing to know a vocalist who can read and write just as good as the other cats.”
- Curtis Fuller (2009 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead)
“Ms. Seikaly sings with a rich mezzo-soprano voice, using intonation, timbre and control that reflect her classical training. Her phrasing, feeling and improvisatory leanings come from an understanding of jazz values.”
- Doug Ramsey (2008 Lifetime Achievement award-winning jazz journalist)
“I am very glad to get to know [her] work!… very impressed… great potential… terrific!”
- Roberta Gambarini
LENA SEIKALY is a fresh new voice on the national jazz scene from the Washington D.C. area. Having received compliments and praise from the likes of Curtis Fuller, Nathan Davis, Robert Glasper, Christian McBride, Roberta Gambarini and Carmen Lundy, her sound is inspired directly by the great jazz vocalists, mixed with an interpretive ingenuity reminiscent of legendary improvisers Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter. She was a participant at the 2009 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., a prestigious program open to young performer-composers of jazz – there, she studied closely with greats Curtis Fuller, Winard Harper, George Cables, Nathan Davis, Carmen Lundy and Chip Jackson. She was also a 2005 participant at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass program directed by Christian McBride, where she studied closely with McBride and his band, vocalist Nnenna Freelon and Loren Schoenberg. She has also been selected to be a Strathmore artist-in-residence for the 2009-2010 season at Bethesda, Maryland’s renowned Strathmore Music Center. Lena has had the pleasure of singing with many contemporary jazz greats in her career thus far, including Christian McBride, Raul Mascarenhas and Eddie Locke. As a featured vocalist with six ensembles in and around D.C., she has performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), the Ascona Jazz Festival (Switzerland), several jazz venues in France during a month-long tour, the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee (CA), and several local festivals and venues.
Lena is a regular vocalist for six bands in the D.C. area, including her own trio, quartet and quintet. She has appeared at local venues such as the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Twins Jazz, Blues Alley, the Smithsonian Jazz Cafe, the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden, the Atlas Theater, and has been featured on D.C.’s jazz radio station, WPFW 89.3. Professionally, she was the vocal jazz instructor at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts during the 2008-09 school year. She is currently a private jazz and classical voice instructor in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and teaches at the International School of Music in Bethesda.
As an accomplished composer and arranger in various styles of jazz, Lena released this album in February 2009. Doug Ramsey, acclaimed jazz critic and winner of the 2008 lifetime achievement award for jazz journalism, had nothing but praise for the album in his Arts Journal weblog, Rifftides. He writes:
"Ms. Seikaly sings with a rich mezzo-soprano voice, using intonation, timbre and control that reflect her classical training. Her phrasing, feeling and improvisatory leanings come from an understanding of jazz values. She makes the unconventional, even daring, decision to open her debut album by scatting her way into "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." Musicianship and her sense of proportion make the track, and the CD, a success. Ms. Seikaly… [scats] with a musician's grasp of harmony, not merely straining to be hip."
The Lena Seikaly quartet consists of some of D.C.’s top jazz musicians: Thelonious Monk competition finalist Tom Baldwin on bass, Airmen of Note (Air Force) drummer David McDonald, and composer and music professor Nathan Lincoln-DeCusatis on piano. The group’s repertoire consists of classic and re-invented jazz standards, as well as original jazz compositions by Lena.
Please visit www.lenaseikaly.com for up-to-date performance schedule, as well as for physical copies of this album.