Philadelphia-based vocalist Laurin Talese had one heck of a year in 2018. Her debut album, Gorgeous Chaos (2016), was our Jazz Album of the Week back in December—an achievement sufficient, no doubt, to make anyone’s year.
The month prior, Ms. Talese won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, which, she probably thought was pretty cool, too.
Seriously, though, winning a “Sassy” is no joke in terms of what it can do for the trajectory of a musician’s career. For points of reference, see Horn, Jazzmeia and Aimee, Cyrille. But what do you do to close out a year like that? That’s some pressure.
What Ms. Talese did was invite her bandmates, including Philly’s-own Anwar Marshall on drums, to join her on stage at South Jazz Kitchen on North Broad Street for nearly three-and-a-half hours of live jazz to ring in the New Year.
And the piece de resistance? The entire performance was broadcast LIVE on WRTI 90.1 and hosted by our very own J. Michael Harrison.
Now, in his capacity as executive producer of WRTI’s VuHaus series, J. Michael is bringing three videos of that New Year's Eve performance—filmed specifically for VuHaus—to WRTI’s channel on the public media video platform. Watch here!
Though she's used to performing in nearly every kind of atmosphere and venue, this was something new for Laurin Talese.
“It was slightly daunting,” said the 2018 Sassy-winner, “because even though you’re being filmed and broadcast, you want to come across as authentic and present in the moment…to interact with the [live] audience like you normally would.”
The trepidation is understandable, but it shows nowhere in her performance.
Nancy Wilson, the legendary vocalist who occupied prominent space on Talese’s own personal Mt. Rushmore of musical influencers, had just passed, not even three weeks before the gig. The week before, Talese had attended Nancy Wilson’s memorial service in New York City, paying tribute alongside folks like Danny Glover, Leslie Odom, Jr., and Dee Dee Bridgewater who absolutely threw down the gauntlet of musical eulogies by performing “Guess Who I Saw Today,” one of the all-time gifts to vocal storytelling that Wilson didn’t write but certainly owned.
Not to suggest gamesmanship, but you just knew when Laurin Talese took the stage at South for that NYE performance, there would be a special tribute to Nancy Wilson in her quiver. And, indeed, there was, a cover of “Save Your Love for Me,” the tune Nancy originally performed on her legendary 1962 album with Cannonball Adderley.
Knowing she was being broadcast live-to-air, along with those early butterflies that dissipated in short order, also brought a sense of nostalgia. Said Talese, “I felt nostalgic, transported back to my favorite era, when that’s [via radio] how people took in shows.”
Marrying that nostalgia with the marvels of the modern media landscape is what we’re doing here by bringing you both the sounds and sights of Laurin’s magical New Year’s Eve performance directly to our VuHaus channel. So kick it old school and new school—or simply forget about school entirely, and enjoy the music.