Inspired by Charlie Parker With Strings, Grace Kelly Pays Homage to Jazz Greats on Grace Kelly with Strings: At The Movies

“[A] jazz innovator… Making jazz young” – BILLBOARD 

“Kelly champions accessibility without sacrificing style.” VILLAGE VOICE

“…broad tone and tenacious flow on the alto saxophone, clearly in possession of virtuoso talents… impressive singing voice, flitting among a range of styles.” – The New York Times

Grace Kelly has an electric charisma onstage that instantly ignites the room”– Jon Batiste

In an extraordinary fusion of past and present, Grace Kelly announces her 15th album in a 20-year prolific recording career, Grace Kelly with Strings: At The Movies. This project, deeply inspired by the seminal album Charlie Parker with Strings, is set for release on March 1, 2024, via PAZZ Productions. It marks Kelly’s first jazz record since 2016 and represents a significant milestone, showcasing her enduring commitment to artistic evolution and excellence.

Grace Kelly with Strings: At The Movies is a heartfelt tribute to one of Kelly’s all-time favorite jazz records. “One of the things that captivated me about ‘Charlie Parker with Strings’ is the elegance and virtuosity in Charlie Parker’s playing.  He was my first alto sax hero. Through his most intricate lines, he leads us with such lyricism weaving in and out of Jimmy Carroll’s beautiful arrangements. I immersed myself in the music from that album and used it as a guiding light when recording this album,” she shares. 

The album’s rendition of “The Way You Look Tonight,” arranged by Grammy Award winner Steven Feifke, draws distinct parallels to Charlie Parker’s iconic track “Just Friends,” a piece that Kelly treasured and played nightly before bed. The introduction of this track features ethereal harp glissandos and a dramatic string accelerando, setting a stage reminiscent of Parker’s era. Grace’s saxophone lines, laced with bebop scales, showcase a precision and articulation that not only demonstrate her virtuosity but also pay homage to her saxophone idol, Charlie Parker.

Joining Kelly in this venture is an all-star cast including Tony Award winning and Grammy nominee producer, Bryan Carter, along with a powerhouse of millennial arrangers steeped in jazz history, such as Grammy and Tony Award-winning Charlie Rosen and Grammy Award winner Feifke. Special guests on the record include esteemed jazz trumpeter, Sean Jones, and guitar sensation, Cory Wong.

From signing her first grade papers as Princess Grace Kelly, inspired by her favorite movie star, to cherished family rituals involving a visit to the local Blockbuster store and weekly Friday movie nights, this album is a full-circle moment for her. “Falling in love with Grace Kelly, having her name, playing some incredible music, including the only song she sang in film. This is a project I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I’m really proud of it,” Kelly reflects. It is apparent that this album bears profound personal significance for Kelly, reflecting a lifelong passion for cinema and storytelling. As fate would have it, her legal name was serendipitously changed to Grace Kelly at the age of 8 after taking the name of her stepfather, a detail that seems to predestine her artistic journey and connection to the golden era of film.

Grace Kelly’s journey in jazz is marked by her role as a musical prodigy, with over 1000 shows as a bandleader in 35 countries, including appearances at the Hollywood Bowl and major U.S. and international jazz festivals. As of October 2022, she became the youngest member of Berklee College of Music’s Board of Trustees. Her achievements span from winning the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest’s “Song of the Year” to multiple ASCAP Composer Awards and recognition in Downbeat Magazine’s Critics Poll as a winner for both Alto Sax and Baritone Sax.

The album opens with a daring arrangement of the James Bond Theme, intertwined with Billie Eilish’s haunting “No Time To Die.” Arranged by Bryan Carter, this track sets the tone for an album that celebrates the melding of timeless melodies with contemporary jazz flair. Kelly states, “I love the idea of merging the old with the new in my music and am a big fan of Billie Eilish. It felt natural to bring both these songs together and get a chance to show both sides of my playing and singing on this one.”

In a nod to nostalgia, Kelly maintains the integrity of John Williams’ iconic “E.T. Theme”, opting for a subtle yet profound transformation by introducing the saxophone as the lead voice. The result is a soaring rendition that encapsulates the wonder and adventure of the beloved film. Kelly reflects, “I felt as if I was lifting off with ET while playing with these lead lines with our incredible string section on this one!”

Trumpeter Sean Jones joins Kelly for a whimsical take on Quincy Jones’ “Soul Bossa Nova.” Renowned for his work with the Wynton Marsalis Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and as a celebrated educator, Jones’ performance is nothing short of spectacular, providing a burst of virtuosic energy and soul to this track.

Guitarist Cory Wong, known for his distinctive rhythm guitar playing, brings his signature groove to the “Power of Love.” The track arranged by the Tony and Grammy Award-winning Charlie Rosen, leader of the 8-Bit Big Band, reflects the rich tapestry of Kelly’s diverse musical influences. The dynamic interplay between Kelly and Wong as they seamlessly exchange musical leads is a highlight, underscoring their successful collaborations on previous albums like Cory Wong and Dirty Loop’s “Turbo” and the Fearless Flyers’ “Tailwinds.” Reflecting on her career, Kelly remarks, “I’ve had the chance to share the stage with Huey Lewis multiple times and it has been an incredible highlight for me. Huey’s support and mentorship have been invaluable in my musical journey and career development.”

The album delivers bold interpretations of “He’s a Pirate” and “Mission Impossible,” with the latter featuring Kelly’s baritone saxophone in a thrilling display. Her full and powerful tone brings a fresh perspective to these well-known themes, highlighting her versatility as a musician.

“True Love,” Grace’s distinctive rendition of the Cole Porter classic — famously the only song Grace Kelly performed on screen — ventures into uncharted musical landscapes. This interpretation starts in a rubato fashion with Grace’s vocals taking the lead and by the end transforms the timeless melody into a 9/8 time signature brimming with triplets, featuring Kelly’s intertwining tenor sax lines and soaring vocalise.

The Morricone Medley is another stand out track on the album, a sophisticated homage to Ennio Morricone’s cinematic genius. Kelly’s interpretation of the rugged, Western-tinged “Main Theme” from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly injects a raw visceral energy into the piece. Contrastingly, her rendition of “Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission and “Love Theme” from Cinema Paradiso is a masterclass in subtlety and nuance; her saxophone weaves a tapestry of haunting melodies, evoking the film’s poignant narrative with every note.

In “Moon River,” pianist Tamir Hendelman, known for his work with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, brings an exquisite finesse to the track. His pianistic elegance interlaces perfectly with Kelly’s intimate vocals, turning this timeless melody into a sentimental exploration of yearning and nostalgia.

Kelly’s original piece, “By The Grave,” showcases her virtuosity as a composer and her significant influence in the modern jazz scene. Featured in the documentary “Life and Life” and as the evocative theme for best-selling author Michael Connelly’s “Murder Book” podcast, this composition is a profound, introspective journey into the realm of emotion.

The last portion is a vibrant tribute featuring classic Disney-film songs including “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “I Wanna Be Like You,” “Go The Distance,” “Part of Your World,” and “Circle of Life.” Disney’s influence on jazz is profound, inspiring artists from Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck to Esperanza Spalding. Reflecting on this rich history, Kelly shares, “Bryan Carter, our producer, and I discovered a mutual love for Disney music when we first met as students at the Brubeck Jazz Institute. Now, the 13-year-old in me is smiling ear to ear, knowing we’ve revived our childhood favorites in a beautiful orchestral setting years later.”

 

Track Listing: 

  1. James Bond Medley
  2. He’s a Pirate (from Pirates Of The Caribbean)
  3. The Way You Look Tonight
  4. Morricone Medley
  5. True Love
  6. Soul Bossa Nova
  7. Moon River
  8. Mission Impossible
  9. The Flying Theme (From E.T.)
  10. By The Grave
  11. Power of Love
  12. When You Wish Upon a Star
  13. Wanna Be Like You
  14. Go The Distance
  15. Part of Your World
  16. Circle of Life

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