The Jazzcat

Carmen Lundy Jazz and the New Songbook

by on Feb.22, 2005, under News


Slide Show

There are many ways to read into one's personality. You can

check out the clothes one wears, look at the books one reads or watch how someone

interacts with people. I think that two of the most common are to listen to someone's

music and witness how that person is perceived by family and friends. There is no

doubt that LOVE is the common denominator when you are speaking of Carmen



Carmen occupies quite a distinct category among the divas of

jazz music. She knows and has played with the who’s who in the business, she

has a large and loyal group of fans who adore her music, she has traveled and

sung for many audiences around the world, she has a number of albums to her

credit and yet still, she is a treasure whose name not everyone recognizes. It

is almost like those of us who know her want to keep her to ourselves. But

Carmen is a monster multi-talented singer, composer and artist that can’t be

denied and if you don’t know, you better ask somebody!


For many of us jazz lovers here in Los

Angeles, the Madrid Theater in Canoga Park

is a relatively new venue for us. We were all greeted with warmth and there

were several people on hand to seat us, serve us and pass out programs for the evening’s



Carmen had an art gallery opening earlier this month and the

walls of the Madrid

were covered with her paintings. This was truly a celebration of the life,

love, art, music and composition of Carmen Lundy.


Elisabeth Oei and Afrasia Productions have done a fine job

hosting this event and did an astronomical feat by bringing together a plethora of

jazz talent. I mean, I have never seen a jazz program with so many of the top

and in demand jazz artists, all in one place, at the same time, playing together

for anything other than a benefit for a musician in need or paying musical

respects to one of our many fallen jazz angels. Well, there is no sadness in

the house today because this was certainly a benefit of love. Love and life

long friendships of performers like Billy Childs, Bobby Watson, Curtis Lundy,

Steve Turre, Victor Lewis, Phil Upchurch, Kenny Davis, Marvin “Smitty” Smith,

Nathan East, Mark Shim, Mayra Casales, Robert Glasper and others who all came

together to create new compositions and to play the Carmen Lundy Songbook.


An African tapestry hangs in perfect symmetry as part of the

backdrop that daunts hues of blues, reds and purples with clouds that give you

a feeling of music from the heavens.


The sound is big and so rich with Carmen out front singing

as the calm, competent, energetic, animated shining star that she is. Stage

presents is one of those things that if it is not there, it impedes the entire

performance. However, when the art is performed with joy, spirit and a true

happiness, the presentation comes across with flying colors. We as jazz lovers

are so used to just getting our art audibly and it is so nice to pleasantly

engage our visual sense as well. Carmen is happy, looking good and singing with

passion, love and impeccable tones!


The stage of jazz superheros worked almost like tag team

wrestling. When one tune was finished, the pianists, bassists and drummers would switch,

or the horn section would step in, or there were two pianists, two drummers along

with acoustic bass and two electric bass players, or the violins and cellos came in

during a piece to play. The surprises were never ending and it all amounted to

big fun, big music, outstanding jazz and a fantastic performance.


David Roitstein is a high school friend who played piano with

Carmen when she was just starting to have ideas about singing out front and

solo. He is responsible for introducing Carmen to jazz and they proceeded to

play one of my favorite Carmen Lundy compositions, “Better Days” with the LA

string Quartet in association with Cal Arts. Absolutely marvelous!


An all-star jazz night of amazing talent, sublime

atmosphere, friendly jazz lovers and magnetic energy all in celebration of the

music and art of Carmen Lundy!


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