FEATURES, press REVIEWS
“TANIA GRUBBS QUINTET/Live at Maureen's Jazz Cellar: Wow, our kind of swinging gal tears it up in tribute to a late friend that was a great friend of jazz. With a crew that knows how to move with her, this set that captures tunes from all quadrants only to make them all her own really hits it out of the park. A true jazz vocal delight, this is one of those sets that you just can't go wrong with. Hot. ” - Chris Spector; Editor and Publisher Midwest Record May 29, 2020
HOPEFUL THINGS by Suzanne lorge Pianist David Budway and his wife Brianne Higgins, owners of Maureen’s Jazz Cellar in Nyack, NY, had been planning to fill the itinerary with vocalists for all of January. In normal times, the five-year-old venue hosts an eclectic mix of music and entertainment: nowhere else will you find jazz headliners on the same venue listing as Dead Heads and drag queens. But last month Budway wanted to honor the memory of his sister Maureen, a jazz vocalist and educator who passed away in January 2015, by booking the likes of Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Janis Siegel and Paul Jost. New shutdown orders in New York State scuttled these shows, however. Also on hold, for similar reasons, are Budway’s plans for a series of live albums recorded at the club. The first of these—singer Tania Grubbs’ Live at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar (s/r)—did launch, however, albeit mid-pandemic. These 12 tracks, recorded on Memorial Day weekend 2019, recall those healthy, halcyon days with tunes that celebrate nature (Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing”), winged creatures (Jimmy RowlesNorma Winstone’s “The Peacocks”, Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire”) and the feelings they inspire (Joni Mitchell’s “Love”, Horace Silver’s “Peace”). Grubbs’ velveteen vocals on these cleverly curated, artfully executed songs warm the heart and her original music—a bright samba arrangement of poet Emily Dickinson’s “Hope Is A Thing With Feathers”—inspires all the sentiment the title promises. Budway and Higgins, though whipped around by shifting regulations for live venues, have consistently offered music at Maureen’s in some way or other over the many months of the public health crisis. Jordan and her regular duo partner, bassist Cameron Brown, plan to keep their Jan. 30 date. This concert will be available via live-stream (and archived) on the club’s website and Facebook page—without charge, courtesy of the club. Grubbs and her husband, bassist Jeff Grubbs, play in a similarly spare duo format each Sunday and these performances, too, are viewable via the club website and Facebook page, as well as on Grubbs’ own page. In February, Grubbs says, they’ll be concertizing inside their Pittsburgh home, but by March the weather should be warm enough to broadcast again from their porch before a socially distanced audience on the front lawn.
“If you’re in need of truly laid-back and mellow music to keep your day going nicely, you’ll find the beautiful “Peace” to be a favorite… Tania’s vocal “pacing” is pure perfection, and the recording of the tune is flawless. I can tell you right now, you haven’t heard jazz vocals this exciting in a long, LONG time.” - Dick Metcalf, editor, Contemporary Fusion Reviews-May 28, 2020
““This new CD from the Tania Grubbs Quintet, “Live at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar”, is special on a number of levels. But first, a bit of background. Tania and I met briefly at the Jazz Congress 2020 in New York in January, but we really didn’t have a chance to chat. But Tania followed up with me, wanted to see what I thought of the album. Upon listening, I was immediately struck by several things. The playing is top notch, the repertoire is very interesting (not your typical standards only), and Tania’s vocals are superb – great intonation and expression. I particularly love the fact that they included such diverse tracks as “Bird on a Wire” (Leonard Cohen), “Harvest Moon” (Neil Young), and “Wichita Lineman” (Jimmy Webb) – Grubbs’ arrangements (together with husband Jeff Grubbs), along with pianist David Budway’s execution make the whole project cohesive and musical. I’ve always dug Ron Affif’s stellar guitar playing, and Jeff Grubbs (bass) and James Johnson III hold down the fort rhythmically. Then upon chatting with Tania afterwards, and learning of the significance of Maureen’s Jazz Cellar (Nyack, NY) where this recording took place – Maureen was David Budway’s sister, a strong supporter of the arts, and a talented vocalist herself, who sadly is no longer with us – the whole project just resonated with me. This is superb music making, by a seasoned quintet who play with joy and passion, and honor the memory of their departed sister in jazz”.” - Dr. Brad Stone Producer, programmer and host of “The Creative Source”
“Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks” can be a difficult song for singers to interpret since it has wide intervals, but Tania Grubbs sounds effortless, making it all sound easy. She concludes the set with “Autumn” (paying tribute to Fall), “Harvest Moon” (which has a catchy bass line), the wistful “I Remember,” a revival of “Wichita Lineman,” and a bluesy version of “Don’t Take Your Love From Me.” It is obvious, listening to Live At Maureen’s Jazz Cellar that Tania Grubbs deserves to be much better known. Her singing is classy, very musical, and a consistent delight. ” - Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11books including The Jazz Singers