Recommended if You Like
Joni Mitchell Diana Krall Gil Scott-Heron

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Moods: Solo Female Artist Spoken Word: Poetry Jazz: Jazz Vocals Urban/R&B: Soul Hip-Hop/Rap: Alternative Hip Hop

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United States - California - SF United States - United States

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Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

LISA B (LISA BERNSTEIN) IS A JAZZ VOCALIST, SONGWRITER, AND POET with a voice that listeners and critics have called beautiful, dexterous, and sultry. She is known for her original compositions as well as her adventurously reimagined standards. These often incorporate the unique element of her original spoken verse.

LISA B HAS PERFORMED AT MORE THAN 90 VENUES in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.

HER SIX FULL-LENGTH CDS received radio play and charting on hundreds of trade-reporter stations. They also garnered great reviews in Jazz Times, Jazziz, All About Jazz, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications.

HER LATEST ALBUM, “I GET A KICK: COLE PORTER REIMAGINED,” was released January 2018 on the esteemed Jazzed Media label, home of such Grammy nominees as Phil Woods and Lorraine Feather, and received widespread radio play, including #1 and Top 10 rotation, and excellent reviews.

“I AM AN ORCHESTRA: A TRIBUTE TO CECIL TAYLOR,” was released as a digital single March 29, 2019 to honor the first anniversary of the legendary pianist’s passing. It both stands alone and is the first taste of Lisa B’s forthcoming album, “Reverberant: Poems & Music,” which is scheduled for an October 2019 release. The new work marks a departure from her previous six records, presenting free-verse poems with occasional singing, in dynamic compositions created with a diverse cast of musicians.

* “I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined” (Jazzed Media 1/18)
* “Christmas Time Is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice)” (Piece of Pie Records 2011)
* “The Poetry of Groove” (Piece of Pie Records 2009)
* “What's New, Pussycat?: Tunes & Tales About Cool Cats” (Piece of Pie Records 2006)
* “Center of the Rhyme” (Piece of Pie Records 2003)
* “Free Me for the Joy” (Piece of Pie Records 1999)

LISA B’S POEMS have appeared in more than 60 literary magazines and anthologies. Her poetry book “The Transparent Body” was published by the prestigious Wesleyan University Press, preceded by a chapbook from Five Fingers Poetry called “Anorexia.” She earned master's and bachelor's degrees in English literature/creative writing from San Francisco State and UC Santa Cruz, respectively.

SHE ALSO RECEIVED CREATIVE WRITING FELLOWSHIPS from the National Endowment for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund/Money for Women, and Puffin Foundation.

WHILE MOST OF LISA B'S VOCALIZING IS JAZZ SINGING, SHE OFTEN INTEGRATES SPOKEN VERSE INTO HER SONGS AND MUSIC—reflecting the influence of 1950s public poetry readings to jazz accompaniment, the biting rhythms of contemporary creative rap, and the poetic lyrics of modern singer-songwriters. The result is genre-bending and multidimensional.

Lisa B has taught workshops and classes on creating your own tribute project, mind-body-spirit tools for performers and creators, and creative writing at San Francisco State University, Foothill College, Skyline College, the Jazzschool (now California Jazz Conservatory), Blue Bear School of Music, various high schools and elementary schools, and privately.

Since she came to professional jazz performance and recording already with some track record as a poet, it's no wonder critics have pointed to her focus on both innovation (“an originator,” “daring and deft”) and lyrical interpretation (“mesmerizing,” “makes lyrics sound like truth”).

POETRY AND JAZZ HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF LISA B’S LIFE. Her mother wrote poetry, and her father was a serious aficionado of avant-garde jazz who counted among his friends a number of well-known jazz musicians. Jackie McLean was a close family friend, and Lisa B remembers sitting on Elvin Jones’ lap at a party at their family home.

As a child, Lisa B studied classical piano and was steeped in jazz—in particular, her parents’ favorites Carmen McRae and John Coltrane—as well as R&B and musical theater. But as an adult, her first forays into live performance were public readings of her own poetry.

As her poems began appearing in important literary journals, and a book of her work was published, Lisa B found that standing up alone before an audience with just her own words was powerful training in performance. Dedicating herself to the art of jazz singing—while still incorporating poetry into her show—was a natural progression.

So it’s no surprise that Lisa B lists as her key musical influences not only Coltrane and McRae, but also the bedrock of the Great American Songbook; vocal jazz pioneers Sheila Jordan, Jeanne Lee, and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross; melders of jazz, poetry, and soul Gil Scott-Heron and Jill Scott; and two who show us how to testify in both music and verse, Aretha Franklin and Allen Ginsberg.

A RESIDENT OF OAKLAND, CALIF., for more than two decades, Lisa B was nominated for a 2014 Oakland Indie Award. Her celebration of Oakland includes her music video “Holiday in Oakland,” which went viral locally. She is also active in her community, focusing on teaching poetry-writing and performance to young people through Parks & Recreation, the Boys & Girls Club, and public schools.

She works not only as a singer but also as a professional psychic.

“With the freewheeling control of the raw materials that only the finest jazz practitioners possess, B takes possession of Cole Porter's witty, poignant stories... a true American original.” - Downbeat critic Ted Panken in his liner notes

“Bernstein reinterprets the Porter Songbook in such a way [as] to magnify the American Treasure that is these songs. The vocalist shows an acute attention to rhythm, tempo, and time. The result is “I Get a Kick Out of You” that sounds as if arranged by Ornette Coleman at the height of his powers.” - All About Jazz

“An extraordinary album that takes songs from the American songbook and adds bold poetry, an unexpected taste of rap, richly emotional singing, and exotic moods … a new standard for the 21st century.” - Hiroshi Ogawa, Jazz Life Japan

“B brings her poet’s incisive ear to uncover the roiling emotions beneath Porter’s glittering confections.” - Andrew Gilbert, Berkeleyside

“Great pipes...talented songwriter.” - Jazziz

“A singer, spoken-word artist and poet with an incisive way of chronicling situations, memories and emotions…a pliable, expressive voice dipped in blue.” - Jazz Times

“She totally captivated the audience. She is an originator, her arrangements are mesmerizing, and her band is great!” - Gary Hamada, Jazz and Blues Company Concert Manager/KRML

“Daring, dexterous singer/songwriter/poet Lisa B...with appeal to both traditional and contemporary jazz tastes and even hip-hop hipsters.” - Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News

“Funky, fresh and sexy as all hell...seamless blending of jazz, hip-hop, soul, spoken word and popular music... One of the most daring and deft performers I've come across in a while.” - Jordan Richardson, Blogcritics and Canadian Audiophile

“It is her gift that she manages, through the extreme clarity of her images, always to engage us.” - Booklist

“Whatever she knows or sings comes, in Whitman's term, from the body electric.” – Francis Mayes, author of “Under the Tuscan Sun” and other books, review in San Jose Mercury

“Her voice is a lovely instrument, her timbre warm, her phrasing fluid, her articulation pristine, and she possesses an emotional range that makes lyrics sound like truth. She sings like the dickens.” - Ted Panken, from the liner notes for “Center of the Rhyme” jazz critic for Downbeat, Jazziz, and more