Colorado is known for world class jazz, strange as that might sound. Colorado is also known historically for world class vocal jazz. Denver native Dianne Reeves has earned five Grammy Awards and an honorary Doctorate from Julliard for her work in that genre.
Boulder based Rare Silk earned two Grammy nominations for their vocalese / vocal jazz in the early ’80s, and Lannie Garrett blessed area stages into the 21st century with her torch and big band jazz stylizations.
MaryLynn Gillaspie started out with Rare Silk, a vocal quartet that she, her sister Gaile and Marguerite Juneman formed in the late seventies as a trio to sing songs influenced by and in the style of swing-era acts like the Andrews Sisters. Their debut, New Weave, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Jazz Vocal–Duo or Group category. Rare Silk ended their run in 1988.
MaryLynn Gillaspie wouldn’t be heard from again until 2012, when she began showing up with local Boulder/Denver musicians, sitting in for a song or two. That gave her the confidence to step into the studio, twenty-five years after Rare Silk ended.
Here’s a collection of songs MaryLynn has recorded since re-emerging in the scene a decade ago.
Secret Language (2022)
To be honest, with the exception of the standards, Dolphin Dance and Fly Me to the Moon, I knew almost nothing about the rest of the songs on the album. They could have all been self-penned for all I knew before opening it up and reading about it.
Fortunately, I listened without any real bias that way – it was a clean listen. And then I looked to see who wrote what.
It’s a shame really that I can’t find any liner notes. It would be nice to see who played what on each track. Based on the bits and pieces I have been able to collect, the notes read like a who’s who of Denver/Boulder talent, produced by Grammy winning Boulder composer and producer Kip Keupper at Coupe Studios.
Dophin Dance is a genuine joy. MaryLynn took the Herbie Hancock tune and wrote an original set of lyrics and a vocal melody for it. She also penned an original set of lyrics to Pat Metheny‘s (It’s Just) Talk. Not limited to being inspired by and influenced by jazz (old or new), MaryLynn turned to King Crimson‘s 1981 album Discipline for an utterly original retelling of Matte Kudasai.
As it stands now, on May 15 2022, MaryLynn’s return to full length “vinyl” (euphemistically speaking) is the stand out jazz album of the year from Colorado. It’s great to hear that voice again after more than THIRTY-FIVE years.