"Four Voices blending together and just swinging like mad!" --- Susan Stamberg, NPR
"The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet ultimately makes a particularly demanding aspect of jazz performance come alive." --- Mike Joyce, The Washington Post
A rising star on the jazz horizon, Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet has been captivating audiences internationally with its creative, lush vocal arrangements sung against a blazing jazz rhythm section. They have put their mark on group vocal jazz with their own tightly harmonized arrangements, inventive lyrics and swinging renditions of classic and original jazz.
An interview and sampling of the group's musical excerpts on NPR's broadcast of "Weekend Edition" with Susan Stamberg made the group's first release, "Half-Past Swing", a top-selling jazz CD on Amazon.com in 2000.
The group has appeared at the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival and Ottawa International Jazz Festival, sharing the main stage with such jazz greats as Nancy Wilson, Tony Bennett, Abbey Lincoln, Mingus Big Band, and Sonny Rollins. They have teamed in concert with the Four Freshmen, been profiled by PRI's Jazz Smithsonian in the documentary series "The Jazz Singers", hosted by Al Jarreau, been profiled on Radio Jazz Copenhagen, and played extensively on jazz and public radio across the US, Canada and Europe. They have also appeared as symphony orchestra guest artists, adding another dimension to their growing resume of live performances in jazz festival, concert, club, and educational venues.
Instrumental straight-ahead jazz bands, fusion ensembles, and single vocalists fronting mainstream combos crowd the CD store racks and the live jazz performance venues, while the fascinating art of group vocal jazz pioneered by such greats as Lambert/Hendricks/Ross and their contemporary progeny remains today a rare find. The exciting sound of four or more voices together phrasing fat jazz chord harmonies, sculpting melodies against countermelodies, and swinging and popping syncopated rhythms against a blazing instrumental section evokes the precision and drive of a big band horn section while delivering the distinctly human element of storytelling through inventive (often original) lyrics.
The result is an artistic package that is uniquely accessible, exciting and entertaining to jazz audiences and beyond. It is also an exact science that demands countless hours of behind-the-scenes group rehearsal. The required spirit of perseverance, discipline, teamwork, and creativity, including well-honed jazz composition and arranging skills, is a reality that explains the small numbers of jazz musicians involved in the craft of group vocal jazz.
Uptown Vocal Quartet members are Ginny Carr, Robert McBride, Lisanne Lyons, Roger Reynolds. They are backed by various rhythm and horn players (tracks range from combo to big band).