Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chris McNulty Wins Australian Jazz Bell Award!

Vocalist Chris McNulty Wins Australian Jazz Bell Award
"Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album" for CD The Song That Sings You Here

"Four Stars. Does she ever swingŠ McNulty plays with rhythm authoritatively; there's not a hesitant note or second-guessed choice to be heard." - Kirk Silsbee, DownBeat

"Five StarsŠ McNulty has a wide range and sings with strength and great clarityŠUnconditionally recommended." - Derek Ansell, Jazz Journal UK

The acclaimed Australian-born, New York-based vocalist Chris McNulty has won a prestigious Australian Jazz Bell Award for her stunning 2013 album The Song That Sings You Here. Named for Graeme Bell, a legend of Australian jazz, the Bell Awards recognize and encourage excellence in the performance, creativity, recording and presentation of jazz in Australia. They were presented May 2 at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne.

On The Song That Sings You Here, McNulty, who has "a voice of serene beauty and striking veracity" (Peter Quinn, JazzWise), delivers a vibrant performance showcasing her tremendous range and abilities as a vocal stylist.

Released January 15, 2013 on Challenge Records, the CD features McNulty with bassist Ugonna Okegwo: drummer Marcus Gilmore, guitarist Paul Bollenback, pianists Andrei Kondokov and Graham Wood, saxophonist Igor Butman, and guest vocalist Anita Wardell.  It's receiving high praise including 4-stars from DownBeat and 5-stars from Jazz Journal.

"Since the onset of her jazz career, McNulty has maintained and intriguing unpredictability, a terrific ability to trace serpentine routes while traversing pop and jazz standards, often taking them to previously undiscovered places yet never straying dangerously off courseŠ. And McNulty remains an underappreciated songwriter. Her eight-minute "Long Road Home - The Song That Sings You Here," to name one sterling example, is a circuitous exploration of love's vagaries and its ultimate immutability." - Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes

"Four Stars. A classy singer in the classic style, emoting from the heart and giving the lyrics their full meaning, but more than capable of mixing it with the band and improvising with the best of them. And she has assembled an equally classy, hard-swinging groupŠ A timeless slice of pure jazz." - Cormac Larkin, Irish Times

"A dynamic singer with a great sense of rhythm in her voice." - Jerome Wilson, Cadence Magazine

McNulty had already finished recording The Song That Sings You Here in 2010, even selecting her composition "Long Road Home - The Song that Sings You Here" to title the album, when tragedy struck, delaying the album's release. Says McNulty, "This recording, the tune selections, my two compositions and the treatment concept, all took place before my beautiful beloved and cherished son, Sam departed this world (July 16th, 2011). Nothing has been changed or altered in any way. My composition "Long Road Home - The Song that Sings You Here" was completed in 2008. The title for this recording was chosen in 2010. As I listen back now, it strikes me that much of this album sounds like it was conceived after Sam left us. I have no explanation for this except to say that every song I sing, I sing for him. I sing him here, always."

The music, especially on the evocative title track that closes the album, has taken on an added poignancy in the wake Sam's death, but the circumstances of its release should by no means detract from the level of artistry. McNulty is a vocalist firmly in command of her instrument, with a rich expressive voice soaked in swing and blues, and an ability to improvise that's straight from the heart. She has truly come into her own on this, her Challenge Records debut and seventh album as a leader.

Chris McNulty first visited New York City in 1985 and settled there in 1988 after being awarded an International Study Grant from the Australia Council. Since then, McNulty has garnered further accolades from critics, jazz musicians and fans alike, as well as collaborating and performing with some of the finest musicians on the jazz scene today including: Gary Bartz, Paul Bollenback, Billy Hart, Frank Wess, Mulgrew Miller, John Hicks, Gary Thomas, Ingrid Jensen, Montez Coleman, Mat Wilson, Ed Howard, Jeff Ballard, Dave Pietro, Joe Locke, Harvey S and many more. Acclaimed as well for her stunning live performances, McNulty has performed across Europe, in Australia, and throughout the USA.