LA Jazz Scene
Vocalist Lauren Koval is one of the best singers in the classic jazz arena. She sings with warmth, great definition, and clarity, and has superb stage presence. Typhoon Restaurant at Santa Monica Airport has presented wonderful evenings of Big Bands on most Monday evenings and smaller ensembles on other evenings; the room is a wonderful place to listen and see live jazz music and the ambience is perfect. Tuesday, February 18, 2014, was a lovely night with Lauren Koval with the Ed Mann Sextet backing her and playing some of arrangements by their pianist, Paul McDonald. The Ed Mann Sextet includes Daniel Heffernan (tenor sax), Duane Benjamin (trombone), Ed Mann (trumpet), Paul McDonald (piano), Kevin O'Neal (bass) and Sammy Kestenholtz (drums). These guys have played very well together for quite a long while and each has a number of outstanding credits in the music business.
The Mann Sextet began with a smooth rendition of Horace Silver's great composition, "Driftin'." Good starting solos followed with Heffernan, Mann, Banjamin, McDonald and O'Neal. The sextet played another number, "Hocus, Pocus," a great Lee Morgan composition. Trumpeter Mann introduced the sextet members and talked briefly of their talents, then continued with one more gem, "Morning," by the late-great Clare Fischer.
The lovely Lauren Koval was introduced to the audience. She performed a gorgeous version of "Old Devil Moon." Bassist O'Neal began the tune with a groovy bassline that was very supportive for her and the band as well. Koval wore a spectacular red dress that, along with her eloquent vocalizing, made her standout beautifully. Continuing, she and the sextet performed Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," "You Took Advantage of Me," and then a song that was a highlight of the evening, "Save Your Love for Me," by Buddy Johnson. This song went so well that the audience showed its appreciation with a generous, large amount of applause. The band's solos were excellent, from Heffernan's terrific saxophone work to McDonald's beautiful piano backing. McDonald arranges all music for the sextet. His arrangement of "All The Things You Are" was impressive and Koval sang it brilliantly. Closing the first show was a blues by the late-great Cedar Walton, entitled "Cedar's Blues." More novel solos were played by Benjamin, Mann (on flugelhorn), and O'Neal, along with a huge drum solo by Kestenholtz. This is a show that should be seen again, as it is stellar!
LA Jazz Scene
Vocalist Lauren Koval is one of the better captivating singers of classical jazz today. She has been performing aboard the Queen Mary on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the past nine months in the beautiful Sir Winston’s lounge. There is a lot of history to do with the magnanimous Queen Mary. She was started in 1929 and completed in 1936. In the Sir Winston’s Lounge, there are many pictures of former patrons and their dancing to the big bands of that era. The acoustics are perfect in this intimate room.
Superb pianist Llew Matthews accompanies her on many of these performances as he did this particular evening of Thursday, March 15th. Koval represents the American Popular Songbook very well and has literally hundreds of songs in her book to do – many as requests when customers ask for them. Her voice is clear, persuasive and easy to listen to. Matthews’ piano has a soft touch, and also a refreshing radiant style. He also still tours periodically with recent Grammy winner Nancy Wilson, with whom he has worked for many years.
We, in the audience, were very fortunate to get to listen to this golden duo, beginning with “All of You,” “Bye, Bye Blackbird” and “Come Rain, Come Shine” to start the musical affair in this historical place. Koval, for the most part, usually takes the tune through the first chorus once and then gives Matthews the second chorus to express his fine arranging skills, and then continue into the final chorus together. She has a new CD, No Complaints, No Regrets, out now and also performed quite a few of these timeless standards from it this evening: “Here’s To Life,” “More Than You Know” and “When October Goes,” a colorful and beautiful ballad. One of my favorite tunes sung by Koval was “Some Other Time.” Other favorites followed in this same set: “Willow Weep For Me,” “I Love Being Here With You,” “Old Devil Moon,” and “One For My Baby.”
Lauren Koval was born and raised in Bellevue, WA. a suburb of Seattle. She has her new CD for a release party coming up June 26th at Catalina’s Bar and Grill, and will have pianist, Page Cavanaugh, as her special guest performer. She also guests as a vocalist every so often for the Jimmy Dorsey Big Band in different places where they’re touring, such as the bigger cities like Chicago or Pittsburgh or similar major cities in the U.S. See her website: www.laurenkoval.com . At the Queen Mary there is no cover/no minimum and validated parking.
See the Queen Mary website: www.queenmary.com/lajs for upcoming scheduling. Highly recommended.
© Glenn Mitchell
LA Jazz Scene
A fine singer who falls between cabaret and jazz, Lauren Koval has recently released a fine CD, No Complaints, that also features the Page Cavanaugh Trio. At her record release party at Catalina’s, she was in inspired form during a performance that could easily be split into two. First the Page Cavanaugh Trio (with bassist Phil Mallory and drummer Jason
Lingle) performed an opening instrumental, “As Long As I Live.” They were also featured on “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home” (with its famous group vocal). The trio accompanied Ms. Koval on a variety of songs from her CD including “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” “Cheek To Cheek,” “Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe” and a medium-tempo “It Might As Well Be Spring.” Things almost fell apart during the verse of “More Than You Know” but Lauren Koval effectively turned it into a humorous situation. The second half of the set had Llew Matthews taking Page’s place and turning a loose situation into a tight show on fine versions of “All Or Nothing At All,” “when October Goes,” “I Love Being Here With You” and a Latinish “Too Marvelous For Words.” While Lauren Koval mostly sticks to the melodies and the words, not improvising much, she has a beautiful and well controlled voice that songwriters and fans of vintage standards should love.
© Scott Yanow
Review from Japan on Lauren's CD Release "No Complaints & No Regrets"
Lauren Koval’s expression is sleek, with her somewhat husky voice. Her singing is purely elegant, and the emotions expressed with control are extremely pleasant to listen to. Every song is offered in the exact ambience in which a listener would wish for the tune to be sung. In between the standard songs, there is Barry Manilow’s treasure (7), which is superb. This album convinces listeners the richness of talented vocalists in the US.
The impeccable supporting performance was provided by the Trio lead by the very veteran pianist, Page Cavanaugh, who has performed in the back of many master singers.
by Masamichi Okazaki
This is the debut recording for Lauren Koval and she performs admirablywith the legendary Page Cavanaugh and the trio.
"Taking A Chance On Love" Lively vocal by Koval and a hip and bouncy solo by Cavanaugh make this tune work magnificently.
Lauren Koval sings the verse to "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and Page Cavanaugh brings his magic to the melody with a stirring vocal followed by a piano solo done at racehorse tempo.
"Embraceable You" A nice medium tempo of this old chestnut finds Koval singing it straight (as it should be)...Mallory's bass soliloquy is a gem.
A jaunty "Cheek To Cheek" closes out this album with sophistication and style. Lauren Koval is delightful in her vocal and the band swings gracefully. Jason Lingle on drums has the trio style down pat, never over playing but sending his message with discretion and time. This CD is the real deal with super vocals and a veteran band that knows how to swing...This is jazz for the discerning ear and receptive soul. 5 STARS
by John Gilbert