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Jazz Spotlight: Vocalist Rose Colella


In the age of American Idol, singers are often unfortunately graded on how hard they can belt.  Rose Colella sings with understated nuance in a way that brings to mind Blossom Dearie, Shirley Horn, and Billie Holiday.  Colella does not use a song’s lyrics as a “show off” vehicle, she massages each lyric with deep musical sensitivity and emotional maturity.  She uses a gentle whisper to caress a melody or a tasteful touch of vibrato on the end of a note and one can almost imagine her singing in a crowded, smoke-filled Chicago ballroom of days past.

Colella, in fact, is well aware of days past when it comes to her own family tree.  The New York Times recently did a feature on Rose and her grandmother, Lola Bard, who was also an elegant Chicago jazz singer with ties to Ella Fitzgerald, trumpeter Bobby Hackett, and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.  In fact, Colella owns and operates an entertainment agency, Lola Bard Productions, that is dedicated to the memory of her grandmother.

As her recording, Small Hours (with Dan Effland on guitar and Joe Policastro on Bass) demonstrates, the apple does not fall from the tree.  Colella certainly has the same appreciation for the Great American Songbook, delivering sophisticated, swinging versions of tunes such as “You Stepped Out of a Dream”, “On the Street Where You Live”, and “Come Fly With Me”.  “The Very Thought of You”, in particular, is a delight with her smoky tone and melodic ornamentations dancing with Effland’s tasteful duo accompaniment.

Recently, Colella demonstrated her musical flexibility by contributing vocals and also some lyrics to a fantastic album called The Elkcloner by New York composer, Filip Mitrovic.  It is hard to know how to even classify this album (neo techno jazz?) but it has been garnering excellent reviews and features Colella flourishing in a whole new milieu.

Recently, Colella has been leading the Tuesday jam session at the Jazz Showcase.  She also holds court every Wednesday evening (6:00-9:00PM) and Sunday brunch at Hemmingway’s Bistro (11:00AM-3:00PM) as a jazz duo with guitarist Dan Effland.