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Jazz Singer Deborah Brown's New CD And International Attention

Suzanne Hogan

Kansas City-based singer Deborah Brown says her new CD, All Too Soon, explores hidden gems of jazz songs.

Like most of her music, the disc delivers a no-nonsense, romantic sound to fans of classic, swinging jazz. For much of her career, the singer has found those classic jazz fans at nightclubs, concerts and festivals in Europe.  She’s spent the last couple of decades living and teaching off and on in Europe, and she also performs regularly in Russia.

Deborah Brown recently talked to KCUR’s Susan Wilson about the new CD and her enthusiastic international audience. Brown’s career started by paying her dues in Kansas City, but the Midwest could only contain her for so long.

Interview Highlights

 “When I went to Europe in the mid 80s. then I really found my stride with the jazz music; working with people like Horace Parlan who played with Charles Mingus for many years, Red Mitchell who played with Billy Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, Ed Thigpen who was the drummer for Ella Fitzgerald.  I had a lot of stories and also a lot of good advice from those guys… I feel like I’m part of the old legacy and yet I was a young person coming into that, but I got a chance to really feel what it was like to play with those masters, and that is really an invaluable experience.”

“To me it’s just amazing that I can sing that spoken word, I don’t know if they understand the words, though many Europeans do speak 3 or 4 different languages….They understand what you’re saying or they feel what you’re saying and they respond appropriately.”

{In regards to the song Evenin’} “It never went on any other records that I made, but this was the record that it was made for.  And when we got to the studio, I didn’t tell the guys that they were going to do this. I just sprang it on them because I wanted it to be something that was not planned out.  They just put that together in the studio, the little lines behind it. I think that I came out great because it sounds so lively and fun.”

“Scatting, well…that’s jazz.”

“Each time I make a record the scatting sounds a little bit different…I feel a little bit different, a little easier each time that I make a record, and that way I make communicating my story a little easier.  Scatting is a challenge… it’s so much fun.”

Deborah Brown says she’s trying to do more performances stateside. She’s appearing at Johnson County Community College Winterlude Festival in mid-January.

This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KCCurrents podcast.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Susan admits that her “first love” was radio, being an avid listener since childhood. However, she spent much of her career in mental health, healthcare administration, and sports psychology (Susan holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Bloch School of Business at UMKC.) In the meantime, Wilson satisfied her journalistic cravings by doing public speaking, providing “expert” interviews for local television, and being a guest commentator/contributor to KPRS’s morning drive time show and the teen talk show “Generation Rap.”
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