Wendee Glick, Bruno Råberg
January 1, 1970Just the basic two pieces this week. Friday's column was a profile of the vocalist Wendee Glick, and the Calendar pick was bassist Bruno Råberg.
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Moonlighting suits this singer just fine
By Bill Beuttler, Globe Correspondent | July 1, 2005
Vocalist Wendee Glick took the slow road when it came to putting out her CDs, 2002's "Baby, I'm Fine" and the forthcoming "True Colors," due later this summer.
Both those discs feature clarinet whiz Ken Peplowski and other similarly established pros. But Glick, 46, didn't start singing jazz until her early 30s, and she has no intention of giving up her day job anytime soon — commuting daily from her home in Nashua, N.H., to work as a business manager in Newton. Glick headlines the Acton Jazz Cafe tonight.
"I went to the University of Lowell. I was taking opera there, but I ended up with a business degree with an emphasis in marketing," Glick explains. "Growing up, my dad always stressed security and how you want to have a good job and make money. I think in the back of my mind I was always like, 'If I'm a musician, I'm never going to make the income that I want to make.'"
So she set off on a conventional path: went to work, married, had a son, got divorced. Her interest in singing never left her, though, and in the early '90s she began indulging a new interest in jazz. She watched it regularly at the 57 in Boston, where she got to know pianist Steve Heck, a collaborator on both her albums. And she started singing at weekly jam sessions at the Rolling Green in Andover, where she met guitarist Bob Ullman, her partner of the past nine years.
The connections to Glick's other CD collaborators came mostly at sea. Glick and Ullman have been booking passage on The Jazz Cruise annually since 1996. Though they travel as paying customers, Glick is occasionally asked to sit in with the name musicians. That was how she first played with pianist Eddie Higgins, who joins her on several cuts on "True Colors."
Both of Glick's discs are chockablock with standards, in each case a carefully chosen mix of swing tunes, ballads, and a bit of Latin. The title cut on the first album, however, is a mood-lifting original inspired by Glick's late sister, Vicki, who died of a brain tumor 11 years ago. The tune's melody originated with Ullman, but Glick found herself co-opting it.
"A lot of people listen to that song, and they say it really helps them," she says. "Because it's not necessarily about a relationship, although it sounds like it's about a relationship breaking up. It can be about any kind of loss, and that's how you do actually get over it. You wake up one day and say, 'Oh, I'm fine.'"
Several standards on "True Colors" were chosen for their color-themed titles: "Orange Colored Sky," "Blue Skies," "Honeysuckle Rose," "Look for the Silver Lining," "Blue Moon." But Glick was inspired to combine two others — "My Foolish Heart" and "The Second Time Around" — as the male and female perspectives, pro and con, on a budding romance. She worked out the arrangement with Heck, who sings the male part on it.
"I said to Steve, 'Could those two songs go together?' And he's like, 'You know what, I think they could.' I was lucky, because I didn't really have a clue, but they work together perfectly. I sing 'My Foolish Heart,' and then he starts singing 'The Second Time Around,' and then we start playing off each other. And it just sounds great."
Even so, it's Glick's three-octave vocal range and the joy that using it brings her that keep her moonlighting as a jazz singer.
"I could be totally feeling like I want to die after work, and I have to go to a gig, have to get my second wind," she says. "But once I get there and I'm singing that first note, I'm immediately happy and energized. So I'm going to keep doing it."
Wendee Glick will perform at the Acton Jazz Café tonight at 9. Tickets $10. Call 978-263-6161 or visit www.actonjazzcafe.com.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
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Calendar Jazz Picks
Bruno Råberg Group Ryles, 212 Hampshire St., Cambridge. 617-876-9330. 8:30 p.m. $12.
Bruno Råberg keeps interesting company. The bassist-composer (and Berklee College of Music professor) has a habit of surrounding himself with musicians whose talents, like his own, outdistance their renown. Råberg's fifth CD as a leader, for example, last year's "Chrysalis," was made up of nine Råberg compositions written specifically for a nonet of undervalued masters, among them guitarist Mick Goodrick, saxophonists Donny McCaslin and Allan Chase, and trumpeter Phil Grenadier. Råberg will be joined by Chase and Grenadier again tonight, along with drummer Ziv Ravitz, for a piano- and guitar-less quartet date premiering several new Råberg originals, as well as updated looks at the standards "Nardis" and "All the Things You Are." The Swedish-born Råberg, who moved to the U.S. in 1981 to study bass with Miroslav Vitous at New England Conservatory and was hired by Berklee five years later, says he has emphasized contrapuntal writing over chord progressions in his newer work: "Harmony after the fact," as he puts it, "rather than before." He also brings in elements of Indian music, which he's studied for the past couple years. "This group," Råberg says, "is something I hope to have together for a long time."
Fri 7-1 Lizz Wright The singer hits Scullers in support of "Dreaming Wide Awake," her two-week-old follow-up to her splash-making 2003 debut disc, "Salt." Scullers, DoubleTree Hotels Guest Suites, 400 Soldiers Road, Boston. 617-562-4111. 8 and 10:30 p.m. $20, $58 with dinner.