MERCEDES HALL Booking: firstname.lastname@example.org BIOGRAPHY "In my lifetime experience playing with singers, many of whom constantly strive for individuality; Mercedes Hall has few peers when it comes to that rare combination of spirit and energy- which does indeed help to define her very own true identity". - Jerry Dodgion, Arranger, Composer, Musician Throughout her productive and wide-ranging career, Mercedes Hall has consistently delighted audiences with her voice, her fearlessness at taking risks, and her diverse repertoire. She infuses her music with the spirit of jazz, improvising, scatting and making each song her own, being a true stylist. 'I feel that I have my own individual style because I listen to everyone in all genres,' says Mercedes. "I've sung jazz, blues, R&B and Brazilian music. I take chances in my singing and use my voice as an instrument. Singing is joyful to me and I don't restrict myself.' Mercedes spirit and joy is evident throughout her second release as a leader, so aptly titled, Pure Emotion. She uses a core group that features pianist Glafkos Kontemeniotis, who takes the lead in showcasing the trio as an integral part of the project. Among her guests are the jazz luminary Jerry Dodgion on flute and alto saxophone, percussionist Bashiri Johnson and the extraordinary pianist-arranger Arturo O'Farrill. Mercedes Hall is heard in memorable form on 14 well-chosen songs. The program includes 'Ghost Of A Chance' which alternates between three tempos, an unusual samba version of 'What Is This Thing Called Love,' a beautiful arrangement of 'The Masquerade Is Over,' the relatively obscure 'Satan Never Sleeps,' an adventurous interpretation of Thelonious Monk's 'Well You Needn't' and a unique interpretation of 'You've Changed.' Pure Emotion is the result of a close friendship with the late arranger/composer Chico O'Farrill and his family. "I wrote the lyrics to Chico's music at their request. I went to Arturo to see if he'd like to redo it and I was so thrilled when he agreed. He envisioned the tune as a bossa-nova, and arranged it and played piano on the piece. Since this album is full of emotion and passion, we decided to name the CD Pure Emotion with the blessing of Arturo and Chico's widow, Lupe O'Farrill.' One of 13 children, Mercedes Hall was born in Boston to a very musical family. 'I came out of the womb singing!' Studying piano as a child, it wasn't long before she realized that her voice was her true instrument, along with her penchant for performing from an early age. After an early marriage which produced a son, the actor Anthony Michael Hall, she ventured far beyond Boston to work professionally, taking her son along with her. After performing across country including stints in Las Vegas and Arizona, she spent a year in Los Angeles, making a name for herself, garnering rave reviews including from world renowned jazz critic Leonard Feather who wrote in the LA Times: "Mercedes Hall is an ANOMALY... her sound quality, phrasing and feeling are more likely to conjure up memories of Dinah Washington or Aretha Franklin...There is nothing simulated or contrived about the soulful conviction and intensity she brings to a set of contemporary songs." Playing top jazz/ R&B venues gaining recognition through press and live appearances on national television including many guest spots on the Merv Griffin Show, Mercedes worked with great jazz musicians including trumpeter Red Rodney, bassist John Heard and pianist John Hammond to name a few. The Hollywood Reporter stated, 'Mercedes Hall, a wicked generator of moods, has superb phrasing and musicianship' Eager for a change Mercedes headed to New York, diving right into the music scene and continuing to play with great musicians most notably in her working trio was virtuoso bassist, Richard Davis. She quickly built a name for herself, The New York Post exclaimed, "Hall has a dazzling range, cultured voice and stellar presence". Mercedes was the name act when the world famous Copacabana reopened and she made it her home base as well as performing at multiple NYC venues. Mercedes also appeared in shows at Lincoln Center, Off-Broadway and did studio and television work. She sang the National Anthem several times at Madison Square Garden for the NY Rangers Stanley Cup Playoff games. JazzTimes June 2007 By: Christopher Loudon Any discussion of Boston bred songstress Mercedes Hall inevitably includes the fact that she is the mother of film and TV star Anthony Michael Hall. However, what isn't mentioned nearly as often is that she was earning her oats with TV gigs and cross country club dates long before her offspring became a marquee name. So don't dare think of her as some late blooming dilettante who's decided to ride her son's coat-tails to fame. Nor could you when you hear her arresting sound - an espresso - rich blend of Dinah Washington sass, Lena Horne sophistication and Cleo Laine musicality, a voice made all the more disconcerting when you realize it's pouring forth from a diminutive redhead with sparkling blue eyes. Shaping the majority of these 14 tracks in tandem with pianist and arranger Glafkos Kontemeniotis (a name I'd never previously heard but, after this, want to hear a lot more from). Hall knows how to work a standard like nobody's business. Just listen to the sizzle of her "Ghost of a Chance," the percolated heat of her "Lover Man," the wicked wizardry of her "That Old Black Magic" and the jungle fever of her "What IS This Thing Called Love." Then thank her for the brilliant idea of getting Arturo O'Farrill to ignite the flame, as arranger and pianist beneath the shimmering title track. Oh, and bless her for unearthing the Harold Adamson - Leo McCarey-Harry Warren rarity "Satan Never Sleeps" and reminding us just how devilishly intoxicating it is. Ejazznews - May 2007 Mercedes Hall Pure Emotion By: Edward Blanco New York-based vocalist Mercedes Hall releases her second album with Pure Emotion revealing an inner passion behind the music she presents. An accomplished singer with a unique style of her own, Hall evokes comparisons with the great Billie Holliday and Dinah Washington. She is the type of singer that let's it all hang out holding nothing back, in essence voicing songs with feelings and yes, "Pure Emotions." This album was inspired in part a result of her personal friendship with the late Cuban-born Chico O'Farrill, a catalyst of the Afro-Cuban jazz movement in New York's jazz scene. In fact the title cut is an O'Farrill chart arranged by son Arturo who also plays piano on the track and on the album. Hall completes the tribute to O'Farrill by adding romantic lyrics to the bossa nova shaded melody expressed with grit and fire by the singer in what turns out to be, in this reviewer's opinion, the best number on the album. The repertoire contains 14 songs of some familiar tunes given new treatment by the vocalist's uncommon but mesmerizing singing style and vocal range. The program begins with Victor Young's "Ghost of A Chance," that changes tempo several times and is warmly accompanied by pianist and producer Glafkos Kontemeniotis. Then there's Cole Porter's classic "What Is This Thing Called Love," arranged as a samba in such a unique fashion one can hardly believe it's Porter's standard. Hall warms to the light ballad of "The Masquerade Is Over" delivering a sensuous performance. If you listen closely to her rendition of "Lover Man," you may hear a bit of the Billie Holliday style. Turning bluesy, Hall hits some high notes before singing the blues on "Someone Else Is Steppin' In" complete with a little scatting. Another outstanding track, is the spicy and very jazzy version of the Arlen/Mercer immortal tune "That Old Black Magic," with some more scatting and a nice solo from Jerry Dodgion on the tenor. She finishes with a softer and misty interpretation of "You've Changed," featuring a delicious piano solo. Besides the three players previously mentioned, the personnel includes Frank Wagner (bass), Kazi McCoy (drums), Nate Birkey( trumpet, flugelhorn), Peter Brainin (tenor), Bashiri Johnson (percussions) and David Moreno (guitar). Pure Emotion is unquestionably a thoroughly enjoyable album of beautiful light jazz. With graceful passion and an elegant style, Mercedes Hall provides the kind of performance you would expect from the title of this album. The lady possess a powerful and distinctive voice that makes her a one of a kind musical wonder. JazzImprov May 2007 By Bill Donaldson Mercedes Hall's second album, Pure Emotion, had it's origins in her first one, Somewhere in the Night. Initially, Chico O'Farrill had arranged his song, "Pure Emotion," for that CD, but the composition wasn't used because it was out of place in the album's smooth jazz format. Now, with Arturo O'Farrill's permission-and indeed, with his participation by arranging the song and by play- ing piano on the track-the singer has made "Pure Emotion" the centerpiece of her latest recording. Hall, who delves into every song with energetic involvement, possesses a wide-ranging interest in musical styles, and she develops her own distinctive interpretations for each of them. The bossa nova feel of "Pure Emotion," enhanced by Jerry Dodgion's flute work that's interwoven with her sing- ing, provides just one instance of Hall's stylistic variations. Light and romantic, the careful treatment of the song belies the suggested intensity of the title, particularly when Dodgion plays his delicately conceived flute solo. At the opposite end of the spectrum of song stylings is Hall's bawdy, forceful version of "Someone Else Is Steppin' In," during which she informs the object of her laying-it-on-the-line that she has regretlessly moved on. Hall has obvious enjoyment in deliver- ing the song, enlivened from the start by the syncopation of her upper-register improvisation that contrasts with her mid-range deliv- ery of the lyrics. Someone Else Is Steppin' In" is made even more effective by the irresistible band's shuffle rhythm-from which trumpeter Nate Birkey breaks loose with wah-wahing eloquence. Indeed, more than infusing a song with humor and interest, Hall appears to be unable to restrain herself, as if she inhabits the song and feels it's emotion as she sings it. "That Old Black Magic," rather than being a languid heard-that-before rehash, charges propulsively to it's conclusion, as Hall & Company stretch some of the words/notes to unexpected lengths or collapse a phrase in rapid-fire articulation before her wildly entertaining scat singing. Much of Hall's imaginative treatment of the songs derives from pianist Glafkos Kontemeniotis's arrangements, which are writ- ten to highlight Hall's vocal strengths and her musical interests. "What Is This Thing Called Love" offers a challenging introduction that would daunt lesser singers as Hall asserts the wordless percussive accents that charge the piece with excitement. It turns out that the "What Is This Thing Called Love" is percussive throughout as a long section of the track shifts to drummer Kazi McCoy and percussionist Bashiri Johnson as they suggest a Brazilian carnival street march. Still, Hall knows how to shape a ballad so that the emotional core comes across, as on "You've Changed," a well-written song that integrates the lyrics' expression of anguished disappointment with the dynamic highs and lows of the melody. Hall takes full advantage of the song's possibilities, including the verse's set-up of the lyrical situation, through the effective use of her broad range, not to mention rising to a concluding swoop at the end of a phrase or breaking her voice at an appropriate thought. Beyond Hall's fortunate release of two albums after decades of an on-again, off-again musical career, she has been involved in movies, theater, television and radio throughout her intriguing life. Most famously, she is the mother of actor Anthony Michael Hall of the movie The Breakfast Club, in which she played the role of, appropriately enough, her son's mother. After putting her own ca- reer on hold throughout some of the 1980's to manage her son's, she has returned to claim the attention she deserves, now that Mr. Hall is the successful actor and a producer of The Dead Zone. Not only is Mrs. Hall having the time of her life with her return to high-profile engagements and renewed interest in her talent. But also listeners are benefiting from her total immersion into her mu- sic-a quality that can be perceived even from her albums. Mercedes Hall's memorable live performances no doubt capture the hearts and minds of her listeners even more securely than do her recordings. LA JAZZ SCENE March 2007 By Scott Yanow Mercedes Hall has years of experience singing jazz, pop music, blues r&b, on club dates and studio work. Pure Emotion should be her breakthrough album in the jazz world for it features her sounding effortless as she sings a wide variety of material, many of which utilize the colorful arrangements of her pianist Glafkos Kontemeniotis. She also arranged four songs herself. The program begins with Mercedes and her rhythm section alternating between three different tempos on 'Ghost Of A Chance.' Along the way one hears a soulful 'Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You,' a rendition of 'Pure Emotion' that is arranged by Arturo O'Farrill (who sits in on piano), an unusual samba version of 'What Is This Thing Called Love,' a very pretty rendition of 'This Masquerade Is Over,' an adventurous interpretation of Thelonius Monk's 'Well You Needn't,' the obscure 'Satan Never Sleeps,' 'You've Changed' and five other songs. In addition to the rhythm section, there are several featured guests including veteran Jerry Dodgion on alto and flute, trumpeter Nate Birkey and tenor-saxophonist Peter Brainin. Although most of the songs are familiar, these treatments contain many surprises. No matter how challenging the arrangements are, Mercedes Hall sounds inventive, expressive and relaxed. Pure Emotion is highly recommended and available from mercedeshall.com. JerseyJazz April 2007 By Joe Lang 'Pure Emotion' (West End Jazz - 001) is the aptly titled new release from vocalist MERCEDES HALL. Hall sounds like a singer who has done a lot of living, knows exactly where she wants to go with each number, and gets there with confidence and a great sense of style. Her primary musical companions here are pianist/arranger Galfkos Kontemeniotis, bassist Frank Wagner, and drummer Kazi McCoy, with occasional contributions by Jerry Dodgion and Arturo O'Farrell, among others. Hall's voice is dark, yet flexible, and she exudes a jazz sensitivity with a touch of soul. Her program is exemplary with terrific songs like "Ghost of a Chance," "The Masquerade Is Over," "Well You Needn't," "Satan Never Sleeps "That Old Black Magic" and Black Coffee." Her take on "Black Magic" includes a scat interlude that fits perfectly. This is an interesting album by a unique singer.
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