Ready, Seattle? Ready for DownBeat’s “Best Graduate Jazz Vocalist” and ASCAP’s Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer?
With her May 27, 2014 album debut, Visions, Kavita Shah gains a major foothold already in major jazz circles. She’s a vocalist, sure, but she’s also an original composer and arranger of these visions that catapult her dreams, her multi-culture, and her personal songbook into a welcome public arena.
Since coming out with her unique sound from everywhere, Shah’s attracted critical and popular notice. Raised in Manhattan on classical music, the multi-lingual artist is of Indian descent, and able to use elements of Indian, Malian, and Brazilian styles into her jazz fancies, which veer into folk, as well as contemplative, gently spinning world music.
Benin-born jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke produced Shah’s Visions with her universal dreamscapes in mind, drawing on the traditional Indian tablas and West African kora in a jazz quintet structure. She’s able to chart Jobim, Stevie Wonder, and Joni Mitchell in quietly redefining, meditative expressions that coax new movement in the listener’s experience, and his/her very soul. These are sounds that will linger long after the play. Her own compositions carry world implosions, one spiritual moment at a time, in cross-country references that perhaps she herself ventured growing up.
People, important people, are taking notice of this rising star. Grammy-award-winning producer Robert Sadin said, “Kavita Shah has set forth on a beautiful journey into uncharted waters. Her songwriting and her voice merge centuries and continents into music which touches antiquity and leads into the future in the same moment.”
BlogCritics.org’s Jack Goodstein reviewed May 19, 2014: “If you measure success by intention, Visions, with its diverse musical program — featuring a piece by Wayne Shorter arranged with a pulsing African rhythm and an original Shah lyric alongside classic Antonio Carlos Jobim and both nestled nicely against Shah’s original ragas — is clearly a success. On the other hand, if you judge success by what you hear, the album is not merely a success, it’s a home run.”
NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan marveled, “Kavita Shah is a masterful vocalist with a deep, personal connection to the music.” Jazz saxophonist Steve Wilson asserted, “Kavita is a musician’s singer. She thinks like an instrumentalist, always taking risks and searching for new levels of understanding. Her music defies categorization.”
DownBeat writer Bill Milkowski simply loves her (August 2014), calls her new album a “breathtakingly beautiful collaboration that brings a wealth of musical influences to bear. With Loueke’s distinctive percussive guitar work weaving in and out of the mix, Shah soars with understated majesty while alternately singing in Portuguese, Spanish and English.”
Whenever Shah, who’s on the cusp of breakout fame, performs live, crowds gather. Her shows tend to sell out, whether she’s touring the States or abroad. Currently, she’s on a U.S. run to promote her new album. She just came from a successful slew of shows in California, hitting all the hot spots, and will visit Seattle’s Royal Room next with her band: pianist Steve Newcomb, bassist Des White, and drummer Guilhem Flouzat. They play this Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Kavita Shah has worked with a bunch of impressive artists who’ve already made it: Sheila Jordan, Steve Wilson, Lionel Loueke, Peter Eldridge, Pierre de Bethmann, Linda Oh, Yacouba Sissoko, Rogerio Boccato, Stephen Cellucci, and Gilad Hekselman. It’s her time now. Come see for yourself.