Lauren Hooker | Right Where I Belong

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Right Where I Belong

by Lauren Hooker

"One of the standout vocal releases of this year thus far without a doubt, not to mention a candidate as one of 2007's strongest debut releases." - Laurence Donohue-Greene, Managing Editor All About Jazz-NY
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
Release Date: 

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1. Right Where I Belong
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4:45 $0.99
2. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
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3:39 $0.99
3. Goodbye To Pork Pie (Goodbye Porkpie Hat)
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6:21 $0.99
4. The Eyes Of Chaz
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5:15 $0.99
5. The Other Side Of The Sun
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5:27 $0.99
6. You Needn't Call Me (Well You Needn't)
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7. Time And Space
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4:54 $0.99
8. Seagulls (Seagulls Of Kristiansund)
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3:11 $0.99
9. Lovebug Jitters (Jitterbug Waltz)
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3:46 $0.99
10. No Goodbyes
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11. Footprints On My Soul (Footprints)
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5:56 $0.99
12. Ill Wind (You're Blowing Me No Good)
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13. Creole Love Call
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Lauren Hooker's critically acclaimed debut CD "Right Where I Belong" with Rufus Reid on the bass, www.rufusreid.com, Allen Farnham on piano and Tim Horner on drums and percussion, features jazz standards, original compositions, as well as her own lyrics set to Monk, Mingus, Wayne Shorter, Fats Waller and Mal Waldron. (read over twenty reviews below including rave reviews from Jazz Times Magazine, Jazz Imrpov NY and All About Jazz NYC and LA)

Within the third week of radio airplay, Lauren was at the top of the “chartbound” list of jazz CD’s played across the nation and in Canada according to jazzweek.com. A featured guest on WKCR's "Jazz Alternatives" 89.9 FM NYC with Host Sharif Abdus-Salaam, Marc Copland's show "Jazz Influences" on WFDU, and WRSU 88.7 FM out of Rutgers University with host Richard Skelly, Lauren's debut CD continues to receive heavy airplay on radio stations and internet stations here and abroad.

Lauren is not just a singer. She is a consummate musician. Her unique and special talent was recognized early in life and it has developed into the sophisticated, hip vocalist, composer, lyricist and producer she is today. She came onto the jazz scene in the early 80's, fresh out of Fairleigh Dickinson University with a degree in Music Education. Lauren continued post-graduate work in jazz theory with pianist Kenny Barron at Rutgers University, jazz voice with Sheila Jordan at the Manhattan School of Music, private studies in jazz piano with Keith McDonald and vocal coach Paul Gallagher, and most recently, a jazz vocal workshop with Bobby McFerrin and his "Voicestras" vocal ensemble.

She has been featured in many major venues in the New York metropolitan area including Sweetwaters, the West End Café, The 55 Bar, Trumpets, Lounge Zen, the Angry Squire, the Dewar's Jazz Festival, Greenwich Village Jazz Festival and most recently at the International Women in Jazz Festival at St. Peter's Church in NYC as well as a featured performer in the Jerzey Jazz Girlz Series at the Barron Art Center in NJ and Edgewater's Art and Jazz Festival hosted by WBGO's Sheila Anderson.

Her show, "Jazz Expressions", a multi-media experience combining original music, dance, poetry and photography was premiered in 1997 at New Jersey's Puffin Cultural Forum with bassist Calvin Hill and pianist Tomoko Ohno. She has appeared on a variety of television shows such as "Broadway to Business," "For Arts Sake," "Life of the Music" and TV 35's “Night Owls”.

One of the highlights of Lauren's career occurred in 1989 when she recorded (yet never released) with legendary pianist/composer Mal Waldron (Billie Holiday's former pianist), singing her original lyrics set to Mal's composition, "The Seagulls of Kristiansund." (cut #8 on "Right Where I Belong")

Lauren also performs regularly in her Arts in Education Company: Musical Legends, turning kids onto jazz and African and Native American cultures with her shows "Jazz 4 Kids", "Rainbow Crow" and "The Fire Children". (www.musicallegends.biz)

"I was born into music ... as early as in the womb (kicking to the beat - my mother tells me)... hearing my dad jam with his fellow jazz musicians in the basement ... starting piano lessons at age four ... meeting Bill Evans at the Vanguard whom my father recorded with in college ... being exposed to and singing most of the major classical oratorios with full orchestra ...shaking hands with Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck whose sacred works the New Jersey Schola Cantorum, (my dad's chorus) performed...reaching for Sarah Vaughan's range, Ella's scat, Miles Davis' tone and Coltrane's intention. I was not only encouraged, but expected to be a musician, and a well-rounded one at that ... one who could play, sing, compose, arrange and educate."

PERFORMED AND/OR RECORDED WITH:

John Bianculli, Ted Branchato, Belden Bullock, Rahn Burton, Michael Cochrane, Roy Cumming, Loren Daniels, Glenn Davis, Santi Debriano, Dena DeRose, Bob Devos, John DiMartino, Leon Dorsey, Vince Ector, Allen Farnham, Pat Firth, Mac Goldsberry, John Hart, Freddie Hendrix, Calvin Hill, Tim Horner, Bertha Hope, Chip Jackson, Vic Juris, Dave Kikoski, Andy McCloud, Cecil McBee, Maryanne McSweeney, Paul Meyers, Allison Miller, Bill Moring, Steve Nelson, Tomoko Ohno, Rufus Reid, Ed Schuller, Warren Smith, Christopher Dean Sullivan, Frederick Waites, Mal Waldron, Bobby Watson and Reggie Workman

Read more on her website www.laurenhooker.com and join her myspace page at www.myspace.com/laurenhookerjazz


Reviews


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Scott Yanow, Jazz Imrov NY

...very original scatting...talented lyricist/songwriter...impressive... a fine
Lauren Hooker grew up around music. She
had piano lessons when she was four, sang as a teenager,
and has said that she aims for “Sarah Vaughan’s
range, Ella’s scat, Miles Davis’ tone and Coltrane’s
intention.” Those are worthy if unattainable goals
but Ms. Hooker has developed into a fairly distinctive singer, a skilled scatter and a talented lyricist
and songwriter.

All of those qualities are in evidence throughout
Right Where I Belong. Joined by a top-notch rhythm
section, Lauren Hooker performs 13 songs including six jazz standards that feature her lyrics and four
originals in which she contributed both words and
music. The only songs that do not have her lyrics are
a cooking version of “You’d Be So Nice To Come
Home To” which is an excellent feature for her
very original scatting, and a medley of “Ill Wind”
and a wordless “Creole Love Call.” Particularly intriguing
are her additional stanzas to “Sometimes
I Feel Like A Motherless Child” (which is taken at
a faster-than-usual tempo) and Thelonious Monk’s
“Well You Needn’t,” which, like “Footprints” and
“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” have been given new lyrics
that differ quite a bit from the more familiar words.
Pianist Allen Farnham and bassist Rufus Reid
get plenty of concise solos, and drummer Tim Horner helps keep the music swinging while keeping the
main focus on the singer. Ms. Hooker does not have
an overly colorful voice although she is always in
tune. Her conversational style is fine on the slow material but she is at her best on blazing tempos. She
takes Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” very fast and
races through her lyrics (which sound like vocalese
though they aren’t) with little effort. Of her originals, “Time And Space” is the most memorable and
has the best chance of catching on. Other highlights
include a bluesy interpretation of “Ill Wind,” her lyrics to Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and
a display of her range on “Creole Love Call.”
Since she has been active in jazz as a performer
and an educator since the late 1980s, it is surprising
that Right Where I Belong is Lauren Hooker’s recording debut as a leader. Overall it is an impressive effort,
and a fine starting point for Lauren Hooker’s recording career.

Laurence Donohue-Greene, Managing Editor AllAboutJazz-New York

...one of the standout vocal releases of this year
"Lauren Hooker's Right Where I Belong is one of the standout vocal releases of this year thus far without a doubt, not to mention a candidate as one of 2007's strongest debut releases." -

Brian Ball, Music Editor

Lauren Hooker presents her debut opus to the world on a diamond laden silver pla
Right Where I Belong is packed full of both original and classic jazz compositions as well as Lauren’s original lyrics set to tunes that you may remember from decades past (Fats Waller, Monk, Mingus, etc.). Lauren’s four octave vocal range alone sets her leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, not to mention her jaw-dropping composition genius found on tracks such as “Time & Space” and “No Goodbyes”. To describe Lauren’s presence on Right Where I Belong, one would immediately sense inspiration from such classics as Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. However, Lauren has been fortunate enough to grow up in an environment that allowed her to meet and spend time with living jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Mal Waldron (Billie Holiday’s former pianist), Michael Cochrane and Allen Farnham. Now that the world is wise to Lauren’s ability, the hardest part is waiting until she releases her sophomore album… unless you live in the New York metropolitan area where you can catch her performing at such swanky venues as Sweetwaters, the West End Café, Lounge Zen and the many Greenwich Village Jazz Festivals.

Grady Harp, Amazon

A Consummate Artist...an innovator...a force to contend with
There are few musicians with the depth of training that Lauren Hooker has. She is highly respected in the New York music scene not only for her admirable qualities as a jazz vocalist (she is one of the best before audiences today!), but she is also a composer, a creative lyricist, and an innovator in a field of luminaries.

On this CD, appropriately named 'Right Where I Belong', Lauren Hooker is finally available to those of us on the West Coast who know her only by reputation. Here she works with Allen Farnham, piano, Rufus Reid, bass, and Tim Horner, drums and percussion - the perfect set of superb musicians that supply all the atmosphere and zest Hooker sets in her styling. She has an incredible vocal range, able to carry her irresistible scat singing into the stratosphere (as in 'You'd be so nice to come to') while at the same time dipping into the contralto range for her special imprints on songs such as 'The other side of the sun'.

This is a well balanced album, one that allows us to sample the many aspects of Hooker's talent. She is clearly a force to contend with and it is rewarding to finally have a CD that will bring her to the appreciation of a wider audience. Lauren Hooker is right where she belongs - here!

by George Harris, All About Jazz LA

...going to knock you off your chair...rich, confident, assured
Here's a vocalist that is going to knock you off your chair. Newcomer Lauren Hooker, on what is essentially her debut recording, hits a double off the wall on this gratifyingly creative disc consisting of standards, originals, and refashioned jazz classics. Her voice - rich, confident and assured - is like Dianne Reeves, pitch perfect. Hooker's timing and sense of swing is absolutely impeccable, and she can take a lyric and mold it like clay. Putting her own lyrics to the likes of "Jitterbug Waltz" ("Lovebug Jitters") and "Footprints" ("Footprints On My Soul"), she gives the well known melodies a fresh twist of lime. Her pitch, as evidenced on Duke Ellington's searing "Creole Love Call," will give you goose bumps. Her own compositions, like "No Goodbyes" are perfectly suited jazz vehicles, and deserve to be appreciated on their own musical basis. The band, lead by master bassist Rufus Reid, is simply impeccable, and flies through these songs like a javelin. Swoop up Right Where I Belong, and look for this New Jersey lady when she comes to town; it's sure to be an event.

Karl Stober, JazzReview.com

Powerful vocals...sultry soul...a multi-talent... full circle musician...
Lauren Hooker’s newest entry into the world of jazz is far from mediocre. Powerful in vocals, a positioned flow of acute arrangements, and a vast array of fine selections sets the stage for a highly seasoned musical performance! Musical Legends' release, Right Where I Belong, has numerous attitudes, however, none more profound than that of a sultry soul. Her talent is best described with the numerous cuts in which Hooker bleeds her bondage into each and every ballad. Feelings are invoked when Hooker lets loose her vocals…giving the listener a sense of much more than just notes on a scale. The impact on most cuts is strong with a high fever pitch. Her soul is her sound! That, my fellow jazz enthusiast, is the main ingredient to the craft itself. “Seagulls,” by Mal Waldron, is such a wonderful piece. It articulates a story with music. Hooker, taking this Waldron instrumental and adding her lyrics, cements herself as a ‘multi-talent’ in this genre. Many have been quoted as labeling Hooker “a full circle musician.” If any piece of Hooker’s work substantiates this statement, it would be “Seagulls.” A heartfelt piece is shown by Hooker’s own creation, “No Goodbyes.” One becomes enveloped in the strong jazz piece, exhibiting the warmth of every broken heart ever torn. Lyrics are simple, yet in the purist form, addressing the love that was lost without a trace. The arrangement adds to the deep sorrow. An embraceable ballad for those nights when one reminisces…and falls once more into the arms of the lost! Hooker is where she needs to be. In other words, “Right Where She Belongs.” This experience can only offer us hopes of more expressive and diverse journeys with Ms. Hooker. Add to your collection only in hopes for another addition soon.

MARCIA HILLMAN, ALL ABOUT JAZZ NY

All About Jazz NY www.allaboutjazz.com/newyork/
"Lauren Hooker shows off her multi-faceted talent... plays with time the way Monk did and would have made (Fats) Waller chuckle with delight...reminiscent of Sarah Vaughan’s bottom range...hint of Dinah Washington’s energy. But her sound and style are unique."

By Michael P. Gladstone, Senior Editor, All About Jazz

...impressive credentials... filled with surprises... tell stories per her lyric
It turns out that not only does jazz singer Lauren Hooker have some impressive credentials, her debut album is also filled with surprises. Born into a musical family, (her father recorded with Bill Evans during their college days in New Jersey), Hooker assumed a career as an entertainer during the early 1980s as well as being a musical educator at The Bank Street School for Children in Manhattan.

Her first big break came in 1989, when she recorded with legendary pianist Mal Waldron and wrote original lyrics to his composition, “The Seagulls of Kristiansund.” This singular moment has been cited as a raison d'etre for Hooker's writing skills and the ability to tell stories per her lyrics. The makeup of these eleven tracks consists of seven songs where she has written original lyrics to jazz standards, two originals and two from the Great American Songbook. The title tune is really the traditional melody, “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” with her own adaptation changing the title to “Right Where I Belong.” On the Duke Ellington classic, “Creole Love Call,” Hooker uses her three octave range in vocalese fashion to further enhance the timeless melody.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the album is Lauren Hooker's writing for some of the more modern bebop era compositions with completely different lyrics than originally submitted by the original songwriters. On Wayne Shorter's “Footprints” (here called “Footprints on My Soul”), the lyrics are quite different than those previously recorded, including the Grammy-nominated album by Karrin Allison. Charles Mingus' “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” offers none of the meaningful Lester Young tribute lyrics that made the Mingus tune so appropriate. I'm not so sure that I prefer this one over the original. Thelonious Monk's “Well You Needn't” is given a new dressing via Hooker's title, “You Needn't Call Me,” despite previously submitted lyrics (and title changes) from Jon Hendricks and Carmen McRae. “Lovebug Jitters” offers her own take on the classic Fats Waller standard “Jitterbug Waltz.”

What matters most with regard to these original rewrites is not whether or not they are better than the words that we may be more interested in hearing, but that Lauren Hooker has the ability and drive to submit these lyrics and deliver them in a swinging sense that befits the works of Shorter, Waller, Monk, Waldron and Mingus.

Lauren Hooker's musical companions are an excellent group consisting of über-piano accompanist Allen Farnham, bassist Rufus Reid and much in-demand drummer Tim Horner.

Tom Hull

Her voice spices '50s cool with a knack for scat.
Lauren Hooker: Right Where I Belong (2006 [2007], Musical Legends): Jazz singer. Dates her career from 1984, but this is her first album. It's also pretty impressive. Her voice spices '50s cool with a dash of Sheila Jordan and a knack for scat. She arranges three standards, writes four originals, and adds words to six more, including five jazz instrumentals, from Mingus, Monk, Waller, Waldron, and Shorter. B+(***)

Doug Boynton

...fine voice...writing skills...knock it out of the park
The title song - a twist on the vocals to "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," sort of sets the tone for the whole disc. It's familiar, yet different. Ms. Hooker has rearranged the lyrics to this one, and added lyrics to some of the others, like Theolonius Monk's "You Needn't Call Me." Three old pros join Ms. Hooker - Allen Farnham on piano and arrangements, Tim Horner on drums, and Rufus Reid on bass. Two of the songs jump out for me, in addition to the title song. Ms. Hooker's original, "Time and Space," along with a driving version of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," which also serves as a marvelous showcase for Mr. Farnham's piano. Another original, "No Goodbyes," is the best of the tracks to frame both Ms. Hooker's fine voice, and her writing skills. It's memorable, and quietly beautiful... Ms. Hooker has a background as an educator; and she and the guys have taken some chances here. Not every one worked for me - but when they did - as on that title track I keep mentioning - they knock it out of the park. Go listen - download the tracks that I've mentioned. I think we'll both be looking for the next one from Ms. Hooker and the guys.

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