Born: March 30 Primary Instrument: Vocal
A unique singer on the rise, with a captivating new CD
It's not often that a delightful new singer appears on our radar with a distinctive voice and assured grace already in place, but San Francisco vocalist Susan Getz is doing just that. From the first note she sings, it's clear that Susan has been listening to the greats, but there's no doubt that her sound is her own.
Now, with an ever-growing resume of appearances in major Bay Area music venues like the Plush Room, Shanghai 1930 and Cafe du Nord, and with her beautiful new CD, Jazz Boxx, in hand, Susan Getz stands ready to bring her wonderful, singular sound to a wider musical audience.
No less a jazz expert than famed producer Teo Macero said upon listening to Jazz Boxx, It's nice to hear a new voice. Susan Getz is on the right path, with a charming sound and a different style. The concept, to be sure, is hers alone.
Susan sings with economy and a ready warmth, underscored by an ever-present yet controlled emotion. She stays close to the melody, generally eliminating flourishes and vocal adornments.
Asked to describe her own style, Susan answers with a smile, I try to sing like Ernest Hemingway writes. He doesn't put in a lot of extra words, but he's very descriptive. I think it was Miles Davis who said, 'Don't worry about playing a lot of notes. Just find one pretty one.' That's what I shoot for in my music.
It's no surprise that the vocalists she says have influenced her most-Chet Baker, Peggy Lee, Astrud Gilberto, Carmen McRae and Carlos Jobim-are all paragons of understatement and smoldering emotion. While all of these performers have made their mark on Susan, it's the Gilberto and Lee influences that seep out of her singing most clearly.
This doesn't mean Susan is afraid to take chances. She often approaches songs from unique directions, bringing fresh perspectives to timing and harmonies that allow her to illuminate surprising corners of long familiar favorites. She has a deft lyrical touch that lends her lovely originals a heartfelt but quiet empathy.
Susan also gives her sidemen plenty of room for creativity, encouraging counter-rhythms and inventive harmonies that add a creative depth and tension to Susan's performances. The proof is in the heartfelt efforts turned in on Jazz Boxx by pianist Leonard Thompson, bassist David Ewell, drummer Jemal Ramirez and trumpeter Joel Ryan, an ensemble of some of the Bay Area's finest instrumentalists.
Susan grew up in a musical household in Ohio. Her mother taught her the standards, and her first performing gig was as a five-year-old, standing on a table in the family garage, playing tambourine with her older brother's rock band. Her singing career started in 2000 when she began music lessons with jazz and cabaret legend Faith Winthrop and Bay Area piano great Dick Hindman.
With a firm grasp on her compositional and arranging skills, and her warm, strong voice, Susan Getz is poised for wonderful things, eager to share her unique sound and captivating, intimate style.
As Susan puts it, You know the kind of songs someone might be singing in your ear on the dance floor? That's the tone I like.
As Teo Macero requests, Let's hear more from the silky voice of Susan Getz.