Bria Skonberg, With a Twist - Highline Ballroom - New York City Article
Bria Skonberg, With a Twist
431 W 16th St, (212) 414-5994
Friday (June 2)
It was about seven years ago that New York jazz fans first started noticing the unmistakeable face (once seen, not easily forgotten) - and no less unforgettable brass sound - of trumpeter Bria Skonberg on the various bandstands all over the city. At that point, her original goal was to become a proficient enough brass player to compete in the high stakes competitive world of top New York musicians. Then, as she moved from sideman to bandleader, she also gradually became a jazz singer as good as any in town. And when she graduated from independent labels to Sony Music, she graduated from being strictly a jazz artist to an all around entertainer; one who could charm crowds with comedy songs (like Betty Hutton’s “It’s So Quiet”) and contemporary singer-songwriter numbers (like Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”) in addition to straight up hot jazz warhorses. Her new album, With a Twist, is by far her most ambitious and her best: her trumpet work is more mature than ever, especially on muted solos in the rough tradition of Duke Ellington’s growl specialists (like Bubber Miley and Cootie Williams - the only thing she lacks is a funky nickname), her vocal chops are lush and well-appointed, and the album also boasts a full-scale big band. Looking over the track list, I had anticipated that my favorite number would be “Cocktails for Two.” Wrong! Much as I loved the way she sings that sophisticated, alcoholic classic, the number that wins my personal prize is the jazz/R&B standard “Alright, Okay, You Win” which is played by Ms. Skonberg and ensemble as a mashup with the Quincy Jones / Austin Powers theme “Soul Bossa Nova.” And she also continues to compose compelling original songs, like “How I Know,” which similarly references Perez Prado’s “Patricia.”
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)