THE LOST AMERICAN JAZZBOOK consists of ORIGINAL songs written in the style of America’s art song tradition—the jazz standard. JAZZBOOK begins its sixth year with the extraordinary singer Tammi Brown. Our newest album is THE TAXONOMY OF PLEASURE. It’s inspired by everyone from Billy Strayhorn to Thelonious Monk to Antonio Carlos Jobim to Bob Dylan.
JAZZBOOK is the creation of Albert Greenberg, co-artistic director of Black Swan Arts & Media, a performing arts nonprofit based in Oakland, California. The prodigious jazz pianist Dan Zemelman is co-writer, pianist, and musical director of the JAZZBOOK.
The debut concert was at the historic Maybeck Recital Hall in Berkeley, California, home to the legendary Concord Records piano jazz series. The artists included Dan Zemelman on piano, two-time Grammy winner Mads Tolling on violin and presidential scholar Zach Ostroff on bass.
The first album of THE LOST AMERICAN JAZZBOOK was recorded (2014) at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, with producer Julie Wolf (Carly Simon, Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco, Maceo Parker, Toshi Reagon). The album would go on to win Jazz Vocal Album of the Year from the 14th Independent Music Awards (IMA).
Various concerts were produced at the Bellevue Club, a beautiful six-story private club, overlooking Lake Merritt in Oakland. JAZZBOOK was joined onstage by MIX’D INDRDNTS, an all-female, multigenre, multiethnic dance company.
ON THE COLLABORATION
What can anyone make of the creative process? Like those moments in a piece of music when the musicians converge upon a phrase. And somehow within this complex of harmonics, rhythm and timbre—there is space. And in the space—silence. Maybe it’s in the silence that the imagination travels to what the composer Arnold Schöenberg called the wild and secret country. In the noise and confusion of this world, it’s a minor miracle. Like when I presented Dan with a melody and lyric line about what the Portuguese call “saudade,” the presence of absence. And he creates a tango that seems haunted by ghosts. And Tammi weaves the melody and lyrics so delicately around the chords that each breath feels precious. This is the collaboration that we’ve forged in this music. Where each of us in our own way gets to share a glimpse into that wild and secret country.
Albert Greenberg, JAZZBOOK creator, producer, lyricist, composer