Playful, Poignant, Inspired, Honest — Jazz Singer Kristen Miranda Delivers a Sophisticated Collection of Beloved Songs on ‘Double Time’ – Produced by the Late, Great Bud Spangler
Jazz singer Kristen Miranda delivers an inspired and reimagined collection of stellar songs on her new CD ‘Double Time’ — from the playfulness of ‘I Feel Pretty’ to the smoky ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ to her unexpected take on ‘Ooh Child,’ and a lovely original she co-wrote with the gifted pianist Joe Gilman, Miranda sculpts a compelling and sophisticated jazz album likely to earn broad appeal, and fills it with a sparkle that reflects her joy at returning to the music scene after several years away.
‘Double Time’ is available now via iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby, and will be released via brick-and-mortar on March 15th. It was Produced by Bud Spangler (who, sadly, passed away on January 16th,) and features an all-star cast including pianist Joe Gilman, bassist John Wiitala, guitarist Steve Homan and trumpeter Tom Peron. Listen to audio samples, here: http://kristenmiranda.com/listen/
Miranda comments – “The CD was produced by my dear friend Bud Spangler, who was a strong collaborative hand with me on the record. We recorded it over a couple of days at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, and it features some really terrific players. It’s my first release after a number of years on break from music (a long and kind of wild story – let’s just say I left singing until I felt I had something meaningful to say,) and I’m really proud of the end product. Bearing in mind Bud’s very serious health issues, we knew, sadly, this was likely one of his very last recordings.”
Even as his health was declining, Spangler took time to share these thoughts about Miranda: “What I love most about Kristen is that no one sounds quite like her. You can hear the influence of Ella, for sure, but also of Betty Carter, Ernestine Anderson and Diana Krall – sometimes even Luther Vandross. She’s a soulful artist who just lights up a stage with her energy and fire. She’s at a place in her life when she knows who she is, both personally and musically, and you can feel that when you listen to her. She’s found her unique voice, full of compassion and insight. And let me tell you, she swings her ass off! This woman needs to be heard.”
Read Jeff Tamarkin’s comments following Spangler’s passing:
‘Double Time’ Liner Notes, written by Kristen Miranda:
This record was a long time coming.
I made my way to jazz a little circuitously, but my life has revolved around music since the age of two. By 14, I had my first professional gig; at 18, I entered UCLA to begin more formal study. My musical path forever changed at the age of 20, when I stumbled on a live recording of Ella Fitzgerald in Berlin performing “How High the Moon”. I’ll never forget that moment – I remember where I was sitting, what I was wearing, even the color of the walls. Something in me had profoundly and irrevocably shifted. It was, in a word, spiritual. I had finally found the music that spoke to me – to my need to improvise, to my desire to create something in the moment with other musicians that simply could not have existed through separate pursuit. That is the essence and the singular beauty of jazz. And that, for me, was that.
I spent most of my twenties immersed in this music. I had the great privilege of playing with some astounding musicians (many of whom, I am thrilled to say, reunited with me for this recording); I performed in Europe and Japan and shared billings with some of my musical heroes; I recorded an album with the gifted bassist Bootza Necak and had, all things considered, some remarkable adventures. The music itself was always and deeply fulfilling. Unfortunately, for me, too much of what surrounded the music was not. I l eventually left performing, found other work I loved and, most importantly, I raised –and am still raising!- a remarkable son. I thought I had left music for good.
In recent years, some musician friends coaxed me out of my “retirement” (something for which I will forever be grateful). The joy I felt being reunited with great music and great musicians was profound. Let’s just say that after a gig or two, it was clear how much my life had not been complete.
Which brings me to this recording. I came into it with a list of tunes and my ideas for arrangements. From there, I brought in Bud Spangler, known to the world as a kick ass jazz producer but better known to me as my kick ass drummer and dear friend. Bud and I went to work refining my list of songs, talking through arrangements, and thinking about the right collaborators to join us. In the end, I asked Steve Homan and Scott Collard to work with us. Those working sessions, steeped in a little red wine and a lot of mutual affection and respect, were deeply satisfying (not to mention a blast).
Some of the tracks you’ll hear, like All Blues and Bye Bye Blackbird, were so simply arranged that we just talked them through in the studio and then stretched out for some fun while recording. Others were a little trickier and took some time to find our way into. Ooh Child, arguably the most oddball tune on the recording, was actually first on my list to record, but I knew we’d need to find the right approach. Steve put together a beautiful and delicate arrangement; I’ll never forget Steve, Tom and I working on this the night before recording, still trying to get it right. In the end, I think we found our way into the song– this may be my very favorite track on the record.
Having not recorded in some time, I was a little surprised by the wizardry now available to polish and spit-shine things to a high sheen. I was intrigued, to be sure, but in the end we resisted the temptation to get things “perfect” or otherwise change things we did not get exactly right during our live recoding, knowing that in the process we would also sacrifice the magic that the band and I, along with Bud, had all felt in those two days together in the studio. Bud calls this an “honest” record. That it is.
So here we are. And after making my way back, there are some people I must thank:
Thank you, first and foremost, to Bud Spangler, (Budalicious), my cherished friend and extraordinary collaborator. What a joy and privilege it’s been to work with you on this! No singer could ask for a more thoughtful or sensitive guide. Your gifted ears, generous spirit and relentless intelligence helped bring this home, I love you like no other.
To my musical family: First and foremost to Bootza Necak- thank you, my beloved partner, for everything. Tom, you are my musical brother – thank you for sharing your monster talent and heart with me for so many years. Steve, thank you for the gorgeous arrangements and the incredibly soulful playing. Scotty, thank you for the stunning musicality, pitch-perfect insights and just-in-time weather reports. Joe, your brilliance just continues to dazzle – and to think our first gig together was in high school! Rick, your playing was beautiful and intelligent as ever. Darius, you were swinging and sensitive and soulful. John, thank you for joining this adventure – you just knocked me out (and your solo on “Ooh Child” still slays me). Thank you all so much for being part of this, I love you guys.
To the rest of my family: Thank you to Karin for the constant inspiration and light; to Bob and Dan for the well-timed reminder; to Mom and Dad for the indefatigable love and support; to Steve for Vegas, basketball hoops and martinis; and to Amy, Regina, Julie, Kimmie, Rachel and Kelli for a lifetime of laughs and sisterhood.
My deepest gratitude goes to my wonderful husband Ben for his unwavering love and support, and to my sweet “bonus boy” William – thank you both for coming into our lives, for loving us and for allowing us to love you. You have brought such unexpected joy.
And finally, to my beloved son Sam – thank you, most of all, for giving me something to really sing about. This is for you.
Kristen Miranda – Double Time – Album Credits and Track Listing:
Recorded at Fantasy Studios, February 23-24, 2013
Produced by Bud Spangler
Associate Producer: Scott Collard
Engineer: David Luke
Mastered by: Jeremy Goody
Photography: Irene Young
Art Design: Renee Harcourt
Kristen Miranda – vocals
Joe Gilman – piano
John Wiitala – bass
Rick Lotter – drums
Scott Collard – keyboard (piano, tracks 5 & 6)
Steve Homan – guitar
Tom Peron – trumpet
Darius Babazadeh – tenor saxophone
1. I Feel Pretty 3:11
Bernstein/Sondheim (ASCAP) Arranged By: Steve Homan
2. Joe’s Place 4:46
Gilman/Miranda (Artful Balance Publishing) Arranged By: Steve Homan
3. Over the Rainbow 6:11
Arlen/Harburg (ASCAP) Arranged By: Steve Homan & Ron Foggia
4. All Blues 6:00
5. Where or When 5:44
6. Ooh Child 6:00
Vincent (BMI) Arranged By: Steve Homan
7. Bye Bye Blackbird 5:10
8. Nice Work if You Can Get It 5:29
Arranged By: Scott Collard
9. Autumn Leaves 5:15
10. I Could Have Told You So 5:18
Van Heusen/Sigman (BMI)
11. Stormy Monday (bonus track) 5:53
Walker (BMI) Arranged By: Steve Homan
Copyright 2013 SBK Records
About Kristen Miranda:
Jazz singer Kristen Miranda has been performing nearly her whole life. She was drawn to music as a very young child, finding solace there while growing up in a gritty neighborhood in Northern California. She landed her first professional gig at the age of 14. At 18, she headed off to University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) to study music. There, she steeped herself in music. She was the one of a handful of freshmen ever admitted into UCLA’s prestigious Musical Theater Workshop; she recorded commercial jingles to make extra money; she experienced the rich music scene In L.A.
Kristen continued to hone her considerable musical and performing chops while at UCLA, but it was soon clear to her that musical theater was not her passion. Music was still very much part of her spirit, but she had not yet found her music – and had yet to find her voice. Discouraged, she left UCLA and headed to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, intent on finding the right way to try to make a contribution with her life. There, she pursued a degree in biology, planning for a career in health care with a special emphasis on developing countries. She thought she had left music for good.
At the age of 21, on the eve of a trip to Latin America to complete her senior thesis, Kristen discovered jazz. A friend brought Kristen a recording of Ella Fitzgerald performing live in Berlin, and it would change the course of her life. “I’ll never forget that moment”, Kristen says now. “I remember where I was sitting, what I was wearing, the color of the walls. It was as if every sense in me had awakened. It was clear that I’d finally found what I’d been looking for. This music was grounded in improvisation, something I’d been doing my whole life in one form or another, and I loved that in-the-moment collaboration that happened on stage between musicians. That was it for me, honestly. I never looked back.”
Kristen formed a quintet and began performing in clubs all over Northern California. Over time, she developed a following. She performed in clubs and festivals all over the United States. She toured extensively in Japan and Europe, dazzling audiences with her intense musicality and charisma. She shared the stage with such jazz greats as Stanley Clarke and George Duke, Joe Williams, Marlena Shaw and Craig Chaquico. Her first recording, Transatlantic Connection, a collaboration with bassist Bootza Necak, garnered stellar reviews. But even as this recording broadened Kristen’s audience, she was becoming disillusioned with the “business” side of music. Not long after, she decided to take a break from performing to, among other things, raise a family.
As it turned out, she did not stay away forever. She got back into performing when trombonist Ron Cuhna asked her to join his All Star Big Band and Jazz Orchestra. Since then, Kristen has returned to music with a vengeance, delighting audiences with her magnetic stage presence and soulful, swinging style. Legendary drummer and producer Bud Spangler says this of Kristen: “What I love most about Kristen is that no one sounds quite like her. You can hear the influence of Ella, for sure, but also of Betty Carter, Ernestine Anderson and Diana Krall – sometimes even Luther Vandross. She’s a soulful artist who just lights up a stage with her energy and fire. She’s at a place in her life when she knows who she is, both personally and musically, and you can feel that when you listen to her. She’s found her unique voice, full of compassion and insight. And let me tell you, she swings her ass off! This woman needs to be heard.”
Kristen’s long-awaited second recording, Double Time, is due out this spring. Produced by Spangler and featuring an all-star cast including pianist Joe Gilman, bassist John Wiitala, guitarist Steve Homan and trumpeter Tom Peron, this inspired collection should ensure Kristen a broad audience for years to come. It’s about time.