WhatsUp Interview: Laurin Talese, Playing Newport Jazz Saturday

Winner of the Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocal Competition

Among the many emerging starts in jazz music, Laurin Talese stands out. Last November, Talese won the seventh annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. That meant an automatic invitation to the Newport Jazz Festival.

Talese is a Cleveland, Ohio native who received a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Philadelphia University of the Arts. She has shared the stage with numerous international recording artists including Bilal, Gregory Porter, Patti LaBelle, and Robert Glasper.

 We spoke to Talese earlier this summer about her upcoming performance in Newport. This is her first time appearing at the Festival, and needless to say, she’s thrilled.

“I’m so energized and excited to play at such a prestigious festival. All my favorite artists and performers have graced that stage. I feel so honored.”

Talese won the Sarah Vaughan competition behind some jazz standards. “I wanted to sing songs that I had a relationship with,” she explained. “I sang ‘The Very Thought of You,’ ‘Something Happens to Me,’ and ‘Save Your Love for Me.’

“I wanted to do songs that would actually show my voice – the texture, tone, dexterity of it – the things that make me, me. And I also wanted to pay homage to the vocalist who I was there to honor, Sarah Vaughan. ‘The Very Thought of You’ was one of the very first standards I learned. It’s been sung by everybody … Sarah Vaughan, and one of my very favorite artists, Nancy Wilson.

“’Save Your Love For Me’ was a Cannonball Adderley/Nancy Wilson tune, I learned that song many years ago. I revisited it, it felt fresh and I wanted to include that as well.”

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Gorgeous Chaos

Gorgeous Chaos is Talese’s 2016 debut recording, an album of soulful originals and covers.

Gorgeous Chaos is an album of the lessons I learned in love, up to that point, cause we never really stop learning. The songs that I wrote were written at a time when I was coming to realize all the things I had learned so far, from the time I was a Freshmen in school when I had my puppy love with my college sweetheart. I wrote songs based on my experience.

“I think as you’re coming of age, love is kind of a gorgeous chaos, you’re all over the place, you have all these emotions, you’re kind of figuring out your identity as it pertains to who you are in the relationship. It feels crazy inside, so its chaotic. It’s a gorgeous time, it’s a beautiful time, because you never get those first experiences again, it’s a beautiful awakening.”

Talese also spoke to the increasing visability of women in jazz music, something that has been a priority at Newport.

“I think there’s more inclusion and more of an effort to actually make sure we’re represented on the line-ups. There was an effort made on the part of Newport. It’s about time! There’s always been amazing fabulous women working in jazz, in front of the stage and behind the scenes, as bandmates and band leaders. It’s time there’s more of a light shined on it and there’s more of an effort to include us in these line ups and on these tours. Folks are starting to realize we’ve been here doing this for a while.”

Talese is currently working on her so-far untitled sophomore project.

“Its going to be reflective of me,” she explained. “For me jazz is very cinematic. When I’m listening to jazz, it seems like life becomes 3D, the music brings everything more alive and to the forefront. The music I’m composing will underscore that … I’m bringing forward some inspired, joyful, and exploratory music.

Newport Jazz

She’ll be a fan as well as a performer this weekend at the Festival. We wondered who she was looking forward to seeing.

“I love Buika – I love the combination of the texture of her voice and the nuance and everything she can do. She’s a flamenco singer but she has a lot of different influences. I can’t wait to see her performance. I’ve seen Cecile (McLorin Salvant) and wouldn’t mind seeing her again and Corrine Baily Rae, so many people!

Don’t miss Laurin Talese at the Newport Jazz Festival on the Storyville Stage Saturday August 3rd at 4PM. Tickets for all three days are still available here.


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