Kim Nalley – San Jose Jazz Winter Fest – 28 Feb

Fred Witt | February 24th, 2014

14_02_23_KNalleyComing to the San Jose Jazz Winter Fest 7 pm Friday night 2/28, Theatre on San Pedro Square is our SF Bay Area’s singer Kim Nalley.

Kim has a fine singing voice, and the power to fill a respectable venue without even a mike !  Despite a variety of music influences throughout her life and occasional comment about R&B work, Kim will explain the great body of her work is jazz style singing.  “…in general my repertoire of jazz standards and 20s – 40s blues standards predates the modern meaning of the word R&B.”    Kim has had a solid career with major accomplishments in several areas. She is a really accomplished singer and has been awarded as one of the “Ten Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area.


But what makes up today’s Kim Nalley ? A fair amount of her career travels aren’t easy to see. Some people bring a music heritage with them. Kim got childhood piano lessons from her great grandmother. She was raised in New England with early college music & singing schooling and local band performing. At first the bands were local rock, looking for a good vocal. (Try looking up work by “The Limit” for examples.) Then she hit a jazz band, and her “eyes opened wide,” as they say; the game was on.   Just past 18, it started being Grateful Deadhead trips, and a move to New York City for performing.

The next era was the Bay Area: a move to SF in 1991, jazz performing & learning, and a college transfer – getting a history BA at UC Berkeley. In these early 90’s the area jazz fashion did a curious circuit, passing over her while chasing “acid jazz,” and then circling back to her style of swing jazz saying “Oh, listen to that !” To get the flavor try looking up some late ’90s releases “Tuesday Live at the Alta Plaza” (MTT) and “Million Dollar Secret” (Rounder) (page down there for sound tracks).

In 2001 Kim caught wide attention when she moved to Switzerland for two years, taking up world tours from there. More releases give us early 2000’s material: “It’s Bo Grumpus Christmas” (Bogrump), “Any Woman’s Blues” (Rounder), and “Need My Sugar” (CE Jazz).

Two thousand and three saw Kim arrive back to re-open and own the SF club “Jazz at Pearl’s.” She managed 5 years of the club, releasing work at the same time. For samples try “Jazz Dialogues” (Finas), “She Put a Spell On Me” (CE Jazz), and “Ballads for Billie” (CE Jazz again). After 2008 Kim turned her focus back to her music work and continued as performer, mentor, teacher (Berkeley Jazzschool bachelor program) and student (UC Berkeley PhD history program).

Hit the performance hall this Friday night, 2/28, at the San Jose Theatre on San Pedro Square to hear R&B singer Kim Nalley. Friday evening show starts at 7 pm. This is part of the SJ Jazz Winter Fest which is playing all weekend at three downtown SJ venues.

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