Born: November 3 Primary Instrument: Vocal
Michelle Latimer has been playing and singing jazz professionally in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past five years, and has quickly become an in-demand soloist and ensemble player. In her classical education (University of Illinois - David Hickman, Ray Sasaki, William Warfield), Latimer grew bored quickly and left her performance major after 2 1/2 years for a career in newspaper journalism. In the midst of getting burned out over several years in the trade, she listened to more and more Jazz, and, getting hooked on it, she began pursuing playing and education opportunities shortly after arriving in San Francisco. Today she is a draw for both classical and jazz audiences, and has performed as soloist in concert frequently with the Contra Costa Wind Symphony, the American Musical Ambassadors and the Golden Gate Park Municipal Band, as well as keeping a regular schedule of SF club gigs. In addition, she has steadily built a discography including guest artist work on Flugelhorn on Benny Velarde's 2002 release Viva Velarde, as well as compositional and solo vocal and horn work on the SF rock band Fightmaster's 2001 release Closer Now and several recordings for the International Japanese Anime/Spaghetti Western bands El Greco and Siamese Sex Show.
Her first CD as a Jazz leader, Michelle Latimer Sings and Plays was released August 20, 2004, and features many of the finest Jazz musicians in the Bay Area, including: Vince Lateano, drums (Woody Herman, Vince Guaraldi, Cal Tjader); Grammy-award nominated pianist Mark Little (Steve Allen, John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Pee Wee Ellis); Jon Evans, bass (Kenny Werner, Kitty Margolis, Tori Amos); and Alex Candelaria, guitar (Graham Connah, Scott Amendola, Ben Goldberg). Latimer radiates West Coast Cool on this date, especially in the combo setting, adding a full horn section and strings on several tunes to reveal an estimable arranging and compositional talent. In her original tunes Latimer simultaneously paints pictures of melancholy and hope through her musical devices, which include the unexpected melodic turns and cadences of Bill Evans, the lush orchestrations of Don Sebesky and even a bit of the pop sensibility of Quincy Jones, most evident on her imaginative Flugelhorn rendition of the Beatles tune (The) Fool on the Hill.
Latimer plays a rich-sounding, relaxed horn in the style of Lee Morgan, Chet Baker and Louis Armstrong, and although her clear but infrequently whisky-tinged voice in fits and starts brings a group as diverse as Elis Regina, Doris Day, June Christy, Frank Sinatra, Joni Mitchell and Diana Krall to mind, one walks away from this outing understanding that it's all Michelle Latimer.
Michelle Latimer's playing displays remarkable calm, authority and beauty for one so young. - Tuck and Pati, Windham Hill Jazz recording artists
An impressive debut - Neil Tesser, Author, The Playboy Guide to Jazz; founder/host, Miles Ahead Jazz Radio (Chicago)
To my mind, Michelle Latimer's voice evokes images of raw silk: beautiful, clear tones and eloquent phrasing, colored by a touch of the blues. - Nicolas Bearde, founding member, Voicestra