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 Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Christine Rosholt + Kevin Hall = “Pazz”: CD Release December 1 at the Dakota PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Sunday, 27 November 2011

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Chrisstine Rosholt and Kevin Hall©Travis Anderson
 

“This concert for me is one way to give something back and celebrate the art of making music together. I have found everybody to be so welcoming, I hope that our songs are a fitting tribute to the city and people of Minneapolis..”  --Kevin Hall 

What happens when one of the Twin Cities’ most popular singers of standards and contemporary jazz tunes meets one of Britain’s most successful popular songwriters? Pazz, of course! Vocalist Christine Rosholt met visiting songwriter Kevin Hall after one of her gigs at the Dakota three years ago, and Hall suggested a joint project—her voice, his songs--a hybrid of jazz and pop, supported by a stellar cast of Minnesota musicians, to be recorded and produced locally by Steve Wiese at Creation Audio. Three years of trans-Atlantic travel, recording sessions and internet communication now come together with the release of Pazz, to be celebrated with that stellar cast at the Dakota Jazz Club on December 1st.  And that cast includes the core band of Hall on keyboards, Vinnie Rose on guitar, Dave Jensen on trumpet, Graydon Peterson on bass, Mac Santiago on drums and Miles Hanson on percussion, with special appearances by the Hornheads, Randy Sabien, JD Steele, Lucia Newell, Katie Gearty, Rachel Holder, Sophia Shorai, Zacc Harris, Jason Craft, Vince Hyman, and LA-based percussionist, Estaire Godinez. 

 

Christine Rohsholt

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Christine Rosholt©Andrea Canter
A graduate of the Minneapolis Children’s Theater Company & School, Christine Rosholt earned a BFA in performance art and photography from the Art Institute of Chicago. Her career in theater has included original performance art pieces and traditional theater as well as vocal performance. As a jazz vocalist, she has performed at many local venues, including frequent gigs at the Dakota, Honey Lounge, Wabasha Street Caves, Hell’s’ Kitchen and more, as well as featured vocalist with Beasley’s Big Band.  

In 2006, Christine released her debut recording, Detour Ahead, which garnered a nomination as the top jazz recording of the year from the Minnesota Music Academy accolades from local as well as national critics. Noted Scott Yanow in LA Jazz Scene, Christine has “a subtle but powerful voice, one that sneaks up on the listener and makes a surprisingly strong impression.” A fan of standards from the 1930s and 40s, tunes that adorned Detour Ahead, Christine performed a tribute to one of her favorite songwriters, Harold Arlen, as part of the Twin Cities Jazz Society’s 2007  “Jazz J to Z” concert season.  Christine today notes that she also finds inspiration from more contemporary sources, including Tierney Sutton and Karryn Allison. Her 2009 release, Lipstick: Live at the Dakota Jazz Club, recreates a night of song and entertainment with the intimacy of live performance, and features Dave Karr, Tanner Taylor, Graydon Peterson and Jay Epstein. In the past year, she has been a featured performer in area libraries through the Minnesota’s Greatest Generation project. Other recent activities include recreating her 2005 show, Jazz Meets the Bard, an evening of songs based on Shakespeare, performed in October 2011 at the Jungle Theater. 

Kevin Hall

A classically trained pianist, Kevin Hall lives north of London where he leads one of the top corporate covers band in the UK, Vice Versa. The band has toured internationally, including Athens, Reykjavik, Moscow, and Dubai, and has peformed with Tony Hadley, Kiki Dee, and Hot Chocolate. Influenced by the music of Queen, ABBA, Billy Joel and Elton John, Hall’s first collection of original songs (Songbook) was released in 2008, with a second collection (Catholic Tales) due for release in 2012. Kevin’s long-term collaborator, lyricist Adrian Maddox, cowrote many of the tunes on PAZZ, primarily working via email.  

The British Invasion of Christine’s Jazz World

How often does a fan approach a performer with the idea of a collaboration? “It happens all the time,” says Christine. So she really didn’t think much about it in early 2008 when Kevin Hall, taking in a Rosholt show at the Dakota while visiting his brother, introduced himself after the last set. “I think you’re really great,” he told her, and followed up with an email two weeks later, saying “I really want you to record some of my music.” To Christine, this was still not a serious invitation. “I thought, sure, you live in England, I’ll believe it when I see it. So many people come up to me and say  something like that. I had one guy come up to me, totally serious, and said ‘I want to send you to Iraq,’  a USO sort of thing, and then I never heard anything. But Kevin followed through.” 

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Dave Jensen©Andrea Canter
And Hall was serious about a collaboration from the beginning. “I was knocked out by the evening at the Dakota,” he recalls. “I had just finished my own band's latest CD, The Vice Squad by Vice Versa, which had been so overproduced and studio intensive, I wanted to do something which was 'back to basics.' Christine also sang a favorite song of mine by Chick Corea, which I always forget the name of but it is an incredibly difficult song to sing and play [“You’re Everything”]. I had 2 songs which I thought her voice would suit and found that I was writing another song almost immediately.” Hall sent Christine some demos, although these had all been recorded using a synthesizer. “I really didn’t know what to expect—he just had told me he wanted me to record some of his original songs,” said Christine. “He sent me demos—they were done with a synthesizer but I asked Graydon [Peterson] to listen and see if he could hear a jazz thing… and everyone thought it would be cool. Kevin came in October [2008] the first time, and we recorded four songs – with Vinnie Rose, Graydon Peterson, Mac Santiago and Kevin, at Creation and Steve [Wiese] and Kevin got along really well.  We had a really good time. He’s a great guy, very personable… After that it slowly mushroomed.” 

Indeed, the project expanded well beyond Kevin’s initial plan. “I originally started with the idea of a 3-song acoustic EP as therapy for the 'overblown' project of Vice Versa,” he explained, “but everything evolved. Our friendship has been great and I find Christine unlike a lot of artistes will have a go at anything even when it is outside of her 'comfort zone.'”  About a year after that first studio session, Hall returned. Notes Christine, “This time we did four more songs and Dave Jensen played on them, and that mushroomed into the Hornheads [the Twin Cities brass band that has backed Prince, with Jensen, Kathy Jensen, Keni Holmen, Steve Strand and Michael Nelson]. They play on four tunes.   And then that grew into Estaire [Godinez] doing a song, Lucia [Newell] doing a song, Katie [Gearty], Rachel [Holder] and Sophia [Shorai] doing background on two songs. The Steeles sing on one song –Jeralyn and JD. It’s called ‘stacking.’ We couldn’t get all five Steeles so it’s overdubbed to sound like the whole group.” 

The resulting full-length CD reflects a very eclectic range of song, a melding of Christine’s jazz sensibilities and Hall’s more pop/R&B flavors. “Christine and I are definitely the yin and yang, we come from different musical worlds which has made the whole experience even more rewarding,” notes Hall. Adds Christine, “Kevin has his own band in England, it’s his day job, pop and R&B—they go to Poland, Russia, Italy.  But this music is his own, his creative outlet, getting away from the pop,” explains Christine. And to her, the main appeal of Hall’s songs is that they are “really heart felt. He’s this jovial Englishman but deep inside he’s a poet, really affected by love and relationships. Some of the songs have a little humor in them.  He cowrote most of the songs with a lyrcist named Adrian Maddox. I’m not sure where the line is between what Kevin wrote and what Adrian wrote.”  

Notes Kevin, “After the first set of songs, two of which were cowritten with Adrian, we started to write songs with Christine's voice in mind. 'Just Say You Will'  and 'Better Off Alone' were written to show the range of Christine's voice. The songs just flowed after that, and I was composing as much in the hotel room as we were recording in the day. I wrote the lyrics for 'No Pleasing You' one night after the recording session, emailed them to Adrian and within half an hour we had a finished lyric for the song. The song was prompted by our conversations about narcissism in families! You can blame a bottle of red wine for that song."

Out of the diversity of music came the term, and title, Pazz. “It’s a cross between pop and jazz," explains Christine. “Some songs are more jazzy, some more poppy.  'Pazz' has the Hornheads on it. And Katie and Rachel. .. it’s not synthesized, all just live music…I always wanted to be a rapper! This is the most pop, and it goes from there, very varied. Lucia does this Spanish thing and Estaire does percussion on it. [The CD] goes from these extremes. And then there’s the song with the Steeles, a real torchy ballad. And a violin piece [with Randy Sabien], Kevin’s political song called ‘One Day,’ about the environment.” 

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Randy Sabien©Andrea Canter
Christine was also impressed by Kevin’s ambition. “Kevin thinks big. He says, ‘I want to do this. I want to hire these people.’”  And Christine herself had specific ideas as to the musicians she wanted on Pazz. “I knew I wanted Dave Jensen. And then talk of the Hornheads came up.  And Kevin said, ‘They worked with Prince for 9 years? I am going to be a King in England!’ And I put together Katie and Lucia and the girls [Rachel and Sophia]. Steve recommended Dave Hagedorn and Randy Sabien—I didn’t really know Randy. And one day Ricky Peterson was just in the hall at Creation…” 

CD Release and Beyond

For Kevin Hall, this project has gone way beyond his search for a therapeutic respite. “We have been blessed with the opportunity to work with the finest musicians and for me personally I have found my creative home here in Minneapolis… I definitely would like to take Pazz to the UK and beyond. The UK market is very challenging and difficult as it is smaller and driven by national TV. I am hoping to give The Andrew Marr Sunday morning show the exclusive for this project as it fits in with his current performers. On top of that I am doing a preliminary visit to Singapore to seek some opportunities in the Far East and Australia... We were lucky enough to work with The Hornheads and Ricky Peterson on this album, and he encouraged me to take the whole thing 'global'…”  

The CD release on December 1st will be the first public performance of the full range of songs on Pazz, although Christine and Kevin have performed a few of the tunes on gigs when Hall has come to town. But neither imagined, three years ago, where their first meeting would lead. “It has been such a fun project and it just came along!,” notes Christine. “And we became friends, like brother and sister now.” Adds Kevin, “The logical conclusion is to push the CD as far as we can and I'm now writing some new songs for the follow up…It's great to be away from your business and personal distractions and just indulge in music and family. It's given me a chance to see the nephews and nieces grow up, so long may it continue.” 

Reservations for the Pazz CD Release Party are available at 612-332-1010 or visit the Dakota website at www.dakotacooks.com. Sets begin at 7 pm. More about Christine Rosholt and CD ordering information at www.christinerosholt.net. Most quotes in this article from Jazz Police interviews with Christine Rosholt and Kevin Hall.  Click here for a review of Pazz!



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