Bria Skonberg, With a Twist - Highline Ballroom - Will's New York Nite Life

Bria Skonberg, With a Twist - 
Highline Ballroom

Bria Skonberg, With a Twist - Highline Ballroom

Bria Skonberg, With a Twist
Highline Ballroom
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.”

for tickets & more info, click here.

Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL & VANITY FAIR, and reviews current shows for THE OBSERVER and THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of eight 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.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, October 2017)

SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)