At The Poli Club
Street Date: January 18th, 2019
Just one year after releasing her debut album Perception, progressive jazz vocalist Kristina Koller releases her live recording debut, At The Poli Club. Featuring Koller on vocals, alongside Fima Chupakhin on piano, Ben Rubens on bass and Darrian Douglas on drums, At The Poli Club reinterprets and reimagines a collection of four classic standards. Spontaneously recorded during one of the vocalist’s recent shows at the Waterbury, CT club, this live EP presents Koller in her truest and purest form yet. Throughout her performances in the past year, Koller has continued to celebrate the originals heard on Perception, rotate throughout re-envisioned jazz gems and hone in on her own new and fresh arrangements.
Mike Gow, the artistic director at the Poli Club made the decision to record the young songstress. The result was a single WAV file, unpolished, with no overdubbing or studio frills. What is on the recording is how the music sounded that night at the Poli Club. The sound is unadulterated and a throwback to old live jazz recordings done without ‘touching up’ in the studio.
Koller opens the EP by remembering the late, great Nancy Wilson with her take on “Save Your Love For Me”. As a vocalist, Koller appreciates how Wilson didn’t sound like a typical jazz singer - “she phrased songs uniquely as herself, she picked tunes based on all of the heartache she went through and she never was one to stick to the typical way of looking at a jazz standard”, admires Koller. Both “Falling in Love With Love” and “I Didn’t Know About You” were added to the singer’s live repertoire, while she was browsing through an assortment of music books. In figuring out whether or not a tune sits well with her, Koller dedicates significant time and effort analyzing music charts, reading the lyrics and melody and hearing harmony. While “Falling in Love with Love” was the perfect tune to arrange in ¾, it was the melody and lyrics of Duke Ellington’s “I Didn’t Know About You” that captured Koller’s attention - “I always love to challenge myself to learn melodies that I find different.” The recording is drawn to a close with “What A Difference A Day Makes” - a favorite tune of Koller’s long-time bandmate and pianist for her Poli Club shows, Fima Chupakhin. The vocalist is always open to recommendations from her colleagues and this track was one that Koller instantly connected with. It’s a true example of how well her ensemble meld together and provide substantial support to her artistic direction.
Kristina Koller’s EP At The Poli Club will be streaming exclusively on Spotify. A link to Pre-Save the music on Spotify is available here: Pre-Save EP
MORE ABOUT KRISTINA KOLLER
"Kristina Koller has a fearless musical curiosity that leads her to blend all sorts of elements together into a variety of fresh sounds, and sing over them with complete assurance and ease."
-Jerome Wilson, All About Jazz
"Her debut album, Perception covers a lot of musical territory with originality and grace."
Jazz artist Kristina Koller has developed quickly into a highly individual vocalist & songwriter. With the release of her debut album Perception, Kristina has established herself as one of the most exciting young voices in jazz. As a composer, Kristina melds diverse genres of music into her songs. While embracing standards and straight ahead jazz, Kristina arranges tunes in unique ways, knowing that adding to the legacy of jazz is much more important than recreating the performances of others. Kristina culled her musical chops in the NYC jazz scene, performing at venerable jazz haunts such as Smalls, Smoke, Minton's, Mezzrow as well as The Apollo Theater. She was a featured Discovery Artist at the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival and her quintet were semi-finalists in the 2017 DCJazzPrix competition. Her music connects with new audiences outside of the jazz music circle, melding jazz, funk, R&B & alternative sounds into her arrangements and compositions. Kristina Koller is a very original contemporary jazz vocalist, one that anyone interested in jazz, or for that matter progressive music, needs to hear.
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Street Date: January 19th, 2018
Accomplished, New York-based, vocalist, composer and arranger Kristina Koller steps into the spotlight with "Perception". This 12-track compilation of deftly composed originals and reimagined gems, carefully selected with the thematic focus of love and relationships at the forefront of each. With the help of her talented and tightly-knit trio, which features Fima Chupakhin on piano, Chris Talio on bass and Joe Spinelli on drums, Koller also presents a snapshot of the self-development she has recently experienced as a singer, songwriter and arranger.
“Perception” includes eight covers ranging from the era of ’30s Tin Pan Alley (“Blame It On My Youth,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “You Go To My Head”) to ’00s pop (“I Miss You,” “Skinny Love”). In this sense, Koller really can be perceived as both a timeless and contemporary jazz vocalist. Regardless of where exactly each tune fits into the historic timeline though, these 12 individual tracks all tell different stories of love and relationships, and in turn, provide disparate perceptions of such experiences. Teaming this array of classics with her own confessional and emotionally honest lyrics, “Perception” certainly packs a hefty emotional punch. Although Koller, of course, has a specific and personal meaning attached to each recording, she wants her listeners to interpret each song in their own individual way.
“I want people to figure out for themselves what is the style of music, without labeling
anything. That’s one reason why I picked Perception as the title.”
The album title also implies the nostrum that first impressions matter—you only get one chance to release a debut CD. When faced with this challenge, some choose to display a variety of music genres and styles, and others decide to put their best foot forward and play what they know best. In contrast to these two approaches, Koller decided to showcase the self-development she has experienced in recent months, not just as a vocalist, but as a composer and arranger. Originally, Kristina intended on displaying a collection of straight-ahead jazz compositions. However, since mid-2016, Koller has been recording and producing a number of vignettes - viewable on her website and on Youtube - simply titled “Sessions”. For each episode, she placed herself in duo, trio, quartet or quintet configurations, some with musicians she hadn’t previously played with, all comfortable navigating multiple genres. With their input, Koller created arrangements on the spot, jam session style, and through the performance of each, the beguiling vocalist discovered and developed her own distinct sound and style.
Now, knowing the approach and result she wanted to apply and achieve, respectively, Koller assembled a trio of respected musicians, who undoubtedly, helped her realize her aspirations for this debut release. Koller explains that pianist Chupakhin, “has a good ear for where the chords should be voiced, which I’m very particular about.” She praises Talio for “being able to lay back on the beat and feel the groove,” and Spinelli for “having a good pocket and also being able to swing really well.”
Not coincidentally, Koller’s process of self-discovery transpired after she graduated from the jazz program at The City College of New York, where mentors included such exemplary singers as Carolyn Leonhart and Charenee Wade. Another mentor, via master classes, was Cyrille Aimée, who produced two of the songs contained herein. Other influences include Nancy Wilson (“I love her song choices, and the way she always tells a story—she’s not just singing to sing”), Anita O’Day (“her great sense of rhythm”), José James (“I’ve seen him a few times, and each performance was completely different musically”), and Gretchen Parlato (“she finds ways to add vocal percussion and other sounds to her arrangements”), as well as Robert Glasper and The Bad Plus (“for pushing the limits of jazz with various re-harmonizations and unique arrangements”). Although Kristina certainly wears her influences on her immaculately tailored creative sleeve, she knows that adding to the legacy of jazz is much more important than merely recreating the performances of others. She actively points her creative compass in the right direction, by reinventing classics, while still retaining their essence.
MORE ABOUT KRISTINA KOLLER
Growing up just outside of New York City Kristina was exposed to an array of live music & dance - attending live ballet, Broadway shows, opera, jazz festivals and rock concerts. As such, she began performing in youth-oriented musical theater at an early age. Out of that experience Kristina branched out artistically, embracing solo performance as a singer-songwriter and vocalist in alternative rock bands. Through study of classical music & opera, Kristina improved her singing and learned different voice techniques, strengthening her range and vocal depth. While inspired by Amy Winehouse’s versatility and open-minded approach to music, Kristina’s desire to express herself freely as a vocalist pulled her into the orbit of jazz where she discovered the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, Sarah Vaughan and Chet Baker. During her teen years, her embrace of jazz music expanded into the performance space, joining a jazz quartet that gigged regularly.
With a music scholarship, Kristina studied jazz at the Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz and finished her formal music education at The City College of New York where she received her BFA in Jazz Studies. She has studied with prominent jazz musicians such as Steve Wilson, Charenee Wade, Marion Cowings, Cyrille Aimee & Amy London.
Kristina has performed at many venues & halls throughout New York City including The Apollo Theater, Symphony Space, Smoke, Mezzrow, Minton’s & Rockwood Music Hall. She was a featured artist at the 2016 New Brunswick Women in Jazz Series. Kristina was selected and performed as a Jazz Discovery Artist for the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival. Kristina and her Quintet were semi-finalists in the 2017 DCJazzPrix competition.
Kristina’s music connects with new audiences outside of the jazz music circle, melding jazz, funk, R&B,alt-rock sounds into her arrangements and compositions. Kristina Koller is a very original contemporary jazz vocalist, one that anyone interested in jazz, or for that matter progressive music, needs to hear.
D. OSCAR GROOMES
O'S PLACE JAZZ NEWSLETTER
"Koller pairs her soft, warm voice with four classic, popular, romantic tunes."
"Her debut album, Perception covers a lot of musical territory with originality and grace." Read the full feature here.
GEORGE W. HARRIS
"Indie-voiced Kristina Koller mixes jazz and bohemia on this clever collection of originals and standards." Read the full review here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"Kristina Koller has a fearless musical curiosity that leads her to blend all sorts of elements together into a variety of fresh sounds, and sing over them with complete assurance and ease." Read the full review here.
"This auspicious debut charts a nice course well worth following as it’s clear she’s off to a great start being a nu diva for nu times." Read the full feature here.
C. MICHAEL BAILEY
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
“Behold the arrival of a great new talent.” Read the full feature here.