Born: January 6, 1963 Primary Instrument: Vocal
Irish-born singer/songwriter Christine Tobin has been living in London since 1987. Her work is firmly rooted in a tradition that emphasizes storytelling on a musical bedrock that creatively blends blues, folk and jazz; a territory that is occupied by such luminaries as Joni Mitchell, Cassandra Wilson and Nina Simone. Her innovative and expressive style has led The Guardian to call her the Bjork of Euro jazz. She has recorded six albums for Babel, one of the UK 's most dynamic and creative indie labels. Her music has been described as authentic, streetwise, radical and romantic. John L. Walters of The Guardian says she possesses a 24-carat voice and Jazzwise hails her as probably the most adventurous jazz singer of her generation in this country, with the ideas and willingness to push back the boundaries and explore new territory with each new album.
Christine works regularly on the UK jazz scene, appearing at Ronnie Scott's, The Pizza Express Soho Jazz Club, Jazz Café and many reputed international festivals. Her earlier work includes stints in Django Bates' Delightful Precipice, Tim Garland's Lammas, and she has worked in bands with Julian Arguelles, Kenny Wheeler, Joe Locke, Clark Tracey, Gary Husband and Billy Childs amongst many others.
Christine's back catalogue is infused with the rich, dark layers of her probingly intense original songs, as well as her unique, sharp-edged interpretive powers on a diverse field of standards from Leonard Cohen through to Cole Porter. Christine's debut album on Babel, Aililiu was released in 1995; Yell Of The Gazelle in 1996; House Of Women in 1998 and Deep Song in April 2000. The first three albums focused on Tobin's original material while the fourth, recorded in New York, is a tribute to the great American song tradition and concentrates on interpretation and creative arrangements. It also features the legendary American drummer Billy Hart, Austrian double-bassist Peter Herbert, guitarist Phil Robson and the highly acclaimed U.S. saxophonist Mark Turner. You Draw The Line, recorded in 2003, saw a return to a majority of originals as well as imaginative covers of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen; it was no. 4 in The Guardian's 101 things to do, buy and see at Xmas.
2004 saw Christine nominated for Best Vocalist at the BBC Jazz Awards, and her vivid interpretations of Bessie Smith were featured in film director Mike Figgis' Red White and Blues documentary in the Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues series. Christine's sixth critically acclaimed album, Christine Tobin's Romance & Revolution, was released in December 2004 and consists of seven of Christine's lyrically incisive trademark originals, including settings of poems by poets Paul Muldoon and Eva Salzman, as well as her own expressively unsentimental arrangements of material by Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, John Martyn and Bessie Smith.
On November 11th 2005 Christine launched her new seven-piece band “Christine Tobin's Big Deal” at The Vortex, Dalston on the opening night of the London Jazz Festival. Featuring some of the UK 's most exciting and skillful musicians, they performed a program of slammin' originals, unique arrangements of Leonard Cohen, Dylan, Steve Lacy and some Brazilian songs. Alongside Christine, the band features Kate Shortt (cello), Liam Noble (piano), Phil Robson (guitar), Dave Whitford (double bass), Thebe Lipere (percussion) and Simon Lea (drums).
On December 18 th 2005 Christine Tobin was invited to perform with The BBC Big Band at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds . Internationally renowned arranger Mike Gibbs has been commissioned to write new arrangements for this special occasion. Mike, who has written for Joni Mitchell, Gary Burton, John Scofield and Carla Bley, to name but a few, will be conducting the music on the night. The concert will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 2's Big Band Special program later this year.
Having spent a lot of 2005 busily programming and promoting some consistently good contemporary jazz at the Progress Bar in Tufnell Park in North London, Christine did however appear at Cheltenham and Shanghai Jazz Festival where she played to an enthusiastic sell-out 600-strong audience, signing CDs after the show! Christine was back writing and touring in 2006, among the highlights appearing to a full house at Joe's Pub in the centre of the vibrant New York improvising scene, a week of gigs in Graz Austria, in London performing with top US drummer Jeff Williams and appearing at International Jazz Festivals including the 49th Monterey, Haarlem in Holland and the London Jazz Festival. In May 2007 Christine Tobin gave the Vortex jazz club audience a sneak preview of her follow up to 2004's Romance and Revolution entitled Secret Life of a Girl. In July 2008 Christine got a thoroughly deserved BBC Jazz Award for Best Vocalist in a ceremony in which she performed Camille, from Secret Life of a Girl, joined onstage by the great violinist Nigel Kennedy.
She is currently touring her new album, Secret Life of a Girl into July, 2008 that includes mostly originals, one of them co-written with poet Eva Salzman. The non-originals are new arrangements by Christine of Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows, and Phil Robson's arrangement of Rufus Wainwright's Poses. The originals share a common theme of stories featuring different female characters, hence the title Secret Life Of A Girl with the title track with programming by trumpeter, composer and producer Alex Bonney.
Source: Babel Records
John L Walters The Guardian ****
Sexy, gutsy, bluesy and beautiful.
Lionel Shriver, author of We Need To Talk About Kevin on Secret Life of a Girl
This girl's life can't stay secret much longer.
Rob Adams, Scottish Herald album of the week
She has clearly assimilated into her own style the music from apparently disparate fields. The strength, control and purity of her voice, and the telling contribution of her band ensure a satisfying artistic whole.
Chris Parker, BBC Music Magazine, August 95)
A singer who refuses to be boxed in by convention.
Clive Davis , The Sunday Times)
Tobin is forthright, self-revalatory, eclectic and experimental.
John Fordham , The Guardian
The Tobin voice is simply peerless.
Definitely one of the country's finest musicians.
Linton Chiswick ,Time Out
House Of Women confirms her as one of the most creative vocalists on the contemporary scene.
Tobin's voice is commanding and poised throughout and her husky scat singing is a delight. She's occupying a niche that's her own and the possibilities are enormous.
Mike Barnes, The Wire
Tobin has a talent for writing complex but cogent melodies and supplying appropriate words and re-settings for existing jazz tunes.
Chris Parker, BBC Music Magazine
Christine Tobin, Christine Tobin's Romance and Revolution (Babel, 2004)
Christine Tobin, You Draw the Line (Babel, 2003)
Christine Tobin, Deep Song (Babel, 2000)
Christine Tobin, House Of Women (Babel, 1998)
Christine Tobin, Yell of the Gazelle (Babel, 1996)
Christine Tobin, Aililiu (Babel, 1995)
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