Vocalist Alyssa Allgood "Out of the Blue" at the Green Mill This Monday!
Chicago-based jazz vocalist Alyssa Allgood has quickly established herself on the Chicago jazz scene and beyond. She graduated from North Central College just a few years ago and since that time was named a Luminart's Jazz Fellow, won 2nd place in the 2016 Jazz Voice Competition held by the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, placed in the top 10 at the Shure Montreux Jazz Vocal competition, performed at numerous jazz clubs and festivals throughout the region, including a performance at the 2016 Chicago Jazz Festival and has released her first full length recording entitled Out of the Blue.
With all of that you can now add her debut performance at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Monday November 7th to the list. We thought we would touch base with Allgood and learn more about her musical influences, how she got started in music and what people can expect to hear this Monday at the Green Mill.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in jazz music?
Allgood: I grew up in Westmont, IL, which is a Western suburb of Chicago. My parents listened to jazz and blues music when I was a kid. I participated in a lot of different music activities throughout my early years, including choir and musicals. I began singing with the jazz band in 6th grade and learned popular songs like “Georgia On My Mind” and “Don’t Know Why”. Around that time I also got connected with the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp at North Central College. I was their youngest participant ever at age 12.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Was there a specific artist or experience that influenced you to become a jazz vocalist?
Allgood: I think my early involvement with Janice Borla’s camp played a large role in my later decision to become a jazz vocalist. I attended the camp for many years and eventually became part of the camp staff when I went to North Central for my undergrad.
Each summer I was able to work with a different singer, learn about the major aspects of jazz music—history, theory, performance—and sing with a professional trio. These are all incredibly important experiences for someone at a young age and at any age, really. I was exposed to very unique singers who were all improvising and arranging or writing music like Janice Borla, Jay Clayton, Madeleine Eastman, Rosana Eckert and Peter Eldridge. I saw strong vocalists as leaders and as equals to their instrumental counterparts and this has really influenced my own desires and goals as a singer.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: You have been selected to participate in several different jazz competitions both nationally and internationally the past few years. Which ones have you performed in and can you share a few memorable experiences that you had and how they helped shape your musical concepts?
Allgood: I participated in the 2015 Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition, which was held at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The jury was presided by jazz legend Al Jarreau. Having the opportunity to sing to him was an incredible experience and a prize all in itself. I performed my version of “Lady Bird” with my original lyrics that talk about learning to trust in what you have and be in the moment. When I shared this sentiment with the audience I was met with a whole-hearted, “yeah, baby!” from Al Jarreau. I’ll never forget that. I didn’t advance to the next round of the competition and while it was disappointing, it was a great opportunity for me to learn about my own strengths and weaknesses as a performer. I think I have come a long way from that moment in terms of my comfort and freedom on stage, which has a lot to do with getting more performance experience around the city.
I also participated in the Luminarts Jazz Improvisation Contest held here in Chicago. I was named a 2016 Jazz Fellow at last year’s competition. This was really a distinct honor for me because I was the only female and the only singer in the finals. Vocal improvisation, or scat singing, is an important part of who I am as a singer and it was really great to be valued for this.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Tell us about the new recording Out of the Blue. How did it come about and what process did you go through to select the repertoire?
Allgood: My new recording is a celebration of the classic Blue Note Records era from the 1950s and 60s. When I began thinking about producing my first full-length album I wanted to have a strong overarching theme or idea. I looked at my repertoire and my music library and realized I had a number of songs and recordings from this era that I really enjoyed listening to and singing. I started developing this idea by really digging in to more recordings from the era and researching the label and key artists. I wrote lyrics to four songs on the album and found other vocal versions of these instrumental songs.
Chcago Jazz Magazine: You will be performing on Monday November 7th at the Green Mill in Chicago. Is this the first time you have played there? Who is in the band and what can people expect to hear that evening?
Allgood: This is the first time I am playing at the Green Mill and I am very excited to make my debut! The band has everyone from my recent album, which includes Dan Chase on organ, Tim Fitzgerald on guitar, Chris Madsen on saxophone and Matt Plaskota on drums. This group has been working together for about two years. We headlined the Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine Fest in June and played to a standing room-only crowd at this year’s Chicago Jazz Festival. I love singing with this group because we all have a great musical and personal connection. I always feel supported to take risks and continue growing. The organ instrumentation creates such a strong groove and I love being part of that.
We’ll be playing all the songs from the album, which includes compositions by Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan and others. We’ll also be swinging some standards, doing arrangements of other standards and instrumental classics and debuting an original tune of mine.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: After this performance what do you have coming up in the future?
Allgood: I’ll be performing at the Aragon Ballroom on November 10th for Uptown United’s Casino Uptown event. Other performances include Fitzgerald’s SideBar on November 23rd, Pete Miller’s Evanston November 25th and 26th and Winter’s Jazz Club December 2nd and 3rd.
You can purchase Alyssa Allgood's at CDBaby.
Visit Alyssa's Website www.alyssaallgood.com