Born: October 28 Primary Instrument: Vocal
Barbara Sfraga is an artist who gathers no moss as she rolls through life, constantly evolving. Jazz Times said “She has never met a genre she didn't like or couldn't assimilate.” Described as “consistently inventive” (Billboard) and “jazz singing at its cutting edge best” (LA Times), she’s been on a musical journey that evolved from church organist to rock keyboardist to ‘voicist’. A classically trained vocalist, Barbara jumped ship to sing rock, pop, R&B and jazz. She throws all those influences into the pot to create and sing the music she feels with no boundaries, as evidenced in her recordings, “Oh, What a Thrill” (1999, Naxos Jazz), “Under the Moon” (2003, A440 Music Group) and the most current “Timelessness Frozen in Time” (2006, SyncTimiCity), a collective effort featuring keyboardist/vocalist Mala Waldron, bass artisan Christopher Dean Sullivan, soundrhythium Michael T.A. Thompson and multi-reedist Allen Won.
The ensemble changed its name to The Timelessness Project in 2008, to reflect the cohesiveness of the collective. “There really is no leader in this ensemble”, says Barbara. “Rather, the group is fueled by all five of us, as we all contribute to the writing and promotion of the project. It’s a real team effort, and I know it sounds cliché, but we really are a family. There’s some heavy-duty love up in here!”
THE NEXT STEP. The coalescence of Sfraga’s “journeyart”, the evocative photography of Sfraga, Thompson and Waldron and the original music of The Timelessness Project (some of which can be found on Barbara Sfraga & Center Search Quest’s 2006 recording, “Timelessness Frozen in Time”) materialized into the multi- media venture, “Timelessnessity”, which seamlessly blends the aural and visual dimensions of the group. The ensemble had a strikingly visual side from the onset. Fans are struck by the their enchanting signature sound, but also, the visual side of the group - how they interact - which is the visual component of the improvisational interplay that is ever present in their music. That, combined with the very organic jewelry some of the musicians sport (Sfraga is also a jewelry designer) set the scene for a natural blending of disciplines. Sfraga’s 2006 book, The Subway Series, A Book of Drawings Sprinkled With Words contains some of the artwork featured in “Timelessnessity”.
Additional projects Sfraga is actively working with which she plans to record with soon:
bassdrums’n’voicethang with Center Search Quest’s bass artisan Christopher Dean Sullivan and soundrhythium Michael T.A. Thompson, a no-chords trio in which the players transcend their instruments, exploring sounds and silence.
bassbass’n’voicethang with bassists extraordinaire Christopher Dean Sullivan and Ken Filiano.
HUSH co-led with multi-reedist Allen Won - a mostly acoustic chamber group showcasing many of Allen Won’s compositions written for the unit, with three “horns” (voice being one) in the front line.
“Although none of those last three groups contain any chordal instruments, I like chords - I really do!”, Sfraga says. “But it’s really a blast to have the freedom to create your own harmony - or not - with other single line instruments. When it’s open like that and not so laid out for you, it’s an opportunity to make magic in a whole new way.”
Awards:(Along with Michael T.A. Thompson and Mala Waldron):
Billboard World Song Contest: Honorable Mentions for 4 songs we co-wrote, 2008
Meet the Composer Grant
(Preview) And at La Ve Lee it’s the amazing NYC vocalist Barbara Sfraga and Center Search. Sfraga’s latest, Timelessness Frozen in Time, is a funkier, groovier concoction than her earlier stuff. Still, the opening tune, hook laden and suffused with a Flora Purim feel, extends for a non-radio-friendly 10 minutes. And aside from a terrific take on the Rufus classic “Tell Me Something Good,” the rest of the tunes are just as stretched and spacy. Expect some wildly inventive singing and plenty of improv workouts even if the newer material is distinctly less radical than before. Just wait until she slides into Cole Porter or Dylan. The lady’s a trip, in a vocal field where trippiness is nearly nonexistent. Good band too. Even if she calls her bass player a “bass artisan” and drummer a “soundrhythmist.” - Bricks Picks: The Surreal Thing Tasty Jams for Summer Nights By Brick Wahl, LA Weekly
On Timelessness Frozen in Time
There’s no doubt Sfraga ’s a jazzbo, but she leaves no doubt that she’s about pushing the envelope, so much so that she bills herself as a voicist rather than a vocalist. Cutting edge from start to finish, even when tackling some well known funk, this set of mostly group written originals succeeds in pushing the envelope in the tradition of the best progressive jazz in contemporary times no matter what freak flag it flies under. Anyone who’s dug progressive jazz in the past has something new to look forward to. - Midwest Record Recap
...these jazzicists are a cohesive group, both in terms of their own interplay and the ease in which they incorporate soul, funk, rap and adventurous modern jazz into the mix. Sfraga's clear voice is always appealing, and the whole set has a soaring energy that is in keeping with its positive message music slant. - Chris Heim, Jazziz Magazine
On Under the Moon
Her (Sfraga's) vocal work is consistently inventive and sure, and she demonstrates a distinctive feel for how to unlock a song in a new way. ~ BILLBOARD Magazine (Critic's Choice)
There's brazenness to Sfraga that's as arresting as it is invigorating. Never content with traditional readings or staid arrangements, she is a master of bold interpretation...Bottom line? Get out and get Under the Moon. -Christopher Louden, Jazz Times
This is jazz singing at its cutting-edge best, evidence...of the art's capacity for creative expansion and evolution. - Don Heckman, LA Times
She fulfills the promise of her first disc, immediately making the four-year wait for a follow-up worth it with a headlong dive into Stardust - taffy-pulling the melody while being carried along by a gentle, up-to-the-minute beat. - Gene Seymour, Newsday (NY)
You might hear intimations of icons like Mark Murphy and Sheila Jordan in her delivery, but Barbara Sfraga's very much her own woman: On her new album Under the Moon, (A440 Music Group), she remodels and inhabits standards ranging from Stardust to Bob Dylan's Every Grain of Sand, and tosses in a wry, funky original (Never Walk Away) for good measure. -Time Out New York
On Oh, What a Thrill:
Her slow-dance simmer on Great Balls of Fire pegs her as a neatly updated throwback to old- time torch singers and blues-belting mamas, and her warm, round contralto projects an earthy, enveloping sexuality on Rogers and Hart's I Didn't Know What Time It Was. But when she dances through her own words to Lee Morgan's curvy hard-bop classic Free Wheelin' (retitled Livin' The Life of Freedom), or picks her way through the tongue-twisting lyrics to Slug It Up, Sfraga becomes a thoroughly modern jazz singer. - Neil Tesser, Chicago Reader (Critics Choice)
On Live Performance:
To watch Sfraga perform is to witness a complete and contagious musical immersion...Her sincerity is audible on Under the Moon, but it's absolutely magnetic when she's live. -- Judith Schlesinger, All About Jazz (Nite and Disc column)
Teo Macero Presents Sal Salvador & Crystal Image
Tracks: 1. Crystal Image
2. Gat a Match?
3. The More I See You
5. Dancing in the Dark
7. Satin Slippers
9. Just Friends
10. Comin On Strong
11. #1 Jump Street
Personnel: Sal Salvador: guitars
Mike Giordano: guitars
Phil Bowler: basses
Greg Burrows: drums
Barbara Oakes (Sfraga): vocals
As a Leader
Oh, What a Thrill
Tracks: 1. Intro (Great Balls Of Fire); 2. Great Balls Of Fire; 3. Miss Harper Goes Bizarre; 4. Livin' The Life Of Freedom; 5. Who's To Blame?; 6. Slug It Up; 7. Good Morning Heartache; 8. I Didn't Know What Time It Was; 9. Angels Eyes, Sunshine Of Your Love; 10. Invitation; 11. I'll Call You; 12. Song For My Mother.
Personnel: Bruce Saunders: guitar. David Berkman: piano. John Hebert: bass. Eric Halvorson: drums. Special Guests Mark Murphy & Fred Hersch. As a Leader
Under the Moon
A440 Music Group
Tracks: 1. Stardust; 2. I've Grown Accustomed To His Face; 3. Mood Indigo; 4. You've Changed; 5. It Might As Well Be Spring; 6. Under The Moon And Over The Sky; 7. Sophisticated Lady; 8. Prelude To A Kiss; 9. Never Walk Away; 10. Every Grain Of Sand
Personnel: Barbara Sfraga: vocals. Christopher Dean Sullivan: bass. John McLean: guitar. Kevi Patrick: percussion. Paul Wertico: drums.
As a Collective
Timelessness Frozen in Time
Tracks: 1. Hang On, Fly Home; 2. Tell Me; 3. Cool Water; 4. Dancing in the Rain; 5. Tell Me Something Good/One Thang; 6. Timelessness Frozen In Time; 7. All Night Long; 8. Be There; 9. Love Breaks Free;10. I'm In The Light.
Personnel: Barbara Sfraga: voicist. Mala Waldron: keyboards/voice. Christopher Dean Sullivan: bass artisan. Michael T.A. Thompson: soundrhythium. Allen Won: reeds/flutes
Disclaimer: All About Jazz is not responsible for the accuracy of the discographical data at the website(s) provided. If a link is no longer valid, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
New York, NY
Barbara Sfraga offers One-on-One BUSINESS of MUSIC CONSULTATIONS for ALL ARTISTS
Developing a 1-5 Year Plan
The Press Kit
Conference Preparation and Follow-up
and much more...
(@ NYC Studio, or by phone). 212-426-9518. $70./hour.
EMAIL for full menu of offerings, plus Musician's Testimonials
Sample list of Clinics/Seminars
EMAIL for menu of offerings and full descriptions
Sample list of Clinics/Seminars
Business of Music
Got a Band and Gotta Get 'em Workin'? - for all musicians (Seminar; handout
Publicity and Marketing - for all musicians (Seminar)
Getting Ready To Gig for jazz vocal students (Seminar)
Arranging (handout provided) (Clinic)
Performance Clinic: bassdrums’n’voicethang - for vocalists (Clinic)