The music I’ve recorded for this CD comes from my Jazz Theater show The Blues Ain’t a Color. In this show, and in many other jazz theater shows I’ve performed over the years, I strive to bring the element of jazz improvisation music to my theater pieces blending the two artistic disciplines into one story then creating a new space for jazz and theater to meet and form new artistic exchanges.
Jazz, in my view has lost a connection to “the street.” I am showing that this music can and should be connected to give the music a context. The visual elements and video in my shows can also leave an audience with a visual of the song. In a theater setting, it drives home the point of the song, making the emotional connection to story. Jazz and blues music is connected to human situations and emotions. We are relating to what is happening on the stage, as current event material, therefore we are expanding the community relationship to jazz, and in this show blending jazz and blues coming together as community to have shared experiences with the music. The jazz is not distant and difficult to relate to, it is instead directly related to social and cultural issues of interest to the theater going audience. Many of the jazz standards of our time came from the musical theater stage. The Blues Ain’t a Color continues this tradition.
Sun. Sept 21 | White Oak Vineyards | Carlock, IL
Sun. Aug 3 | Theater Wit | Chicago, IL
Sat. Aug 9 | August Hill Winery | North Utica, IL
Sun. Aug 10 | Theater Wit | Chicago, IL
Sun. Aug 17 | Theater Wit | Chicago, IL
Sun. July 27 | Theater Wit | Chicago, IL
Sun. July 20 | Theater Wit | Chicago, IL
Fri. July 18 | Robbie's | Springfield, IL
Sun. July 13 | Theater Wit | Chicago, IL
Sun. Mar. 16 | Uncommon Ground | Chicago, IL
Sun. Oct 27, 2013 | McLean County Arts Center | Bloomington, IL
A veteran of the Second City Touring Company, suburban Chicago native Denise La Grassa made her mark in that talented troupe with a bit called "Make-A-Song," writing and performing tunes on the spot based on any topic the audience shouted out. That loose, carefree and immediate vibe still permeates her third album, the recent DIY release "April Dreams," but don't let it fool you into thinking the music is tossed-off.
With an impressive but never showy range and a self-assured, conversational delivery that brings to mind a jazzier Aimee Mann, La Grassa offers uniquely personal and melodically powerful takes on romance in standout originals such as "Yesterday's Replay" and "Best Day," while local producer Matt Thompson (the Mighty Blue Kings, Frisbee) captures the spare but perfect accompaniment of a four-piece backing band. - Jim DeRogatis/NPR