Also opening the 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival last Friday at Tula’s was the deliciously savvy, flawless, quirky, stratospheric – Grammy- and Emmy-nominated vocalist, lyricist and songwriter Lorraine Feather appeared with pianist and composer Russell Ferrante, a founder of smooth-fuse mainstay the Yellowjackets.

Feather calls her Tales of the Unusual (Jazzed Media, 2012), with Ferrante, “a collection of songs about unusual adventures both real and surreal; odd people; and in some cases, ordinary people suddenly overwhelmed by a new emotion of one kind or another.” The CD follows Ages (Jazzed Media, 2010), Grammy nominee for Best Jazz Vocal Album, also with Ferrante.

Californian Russell Ferrante started piano lessons at age 9 and by high school was performing professionally with local groups. In 1973, he dropped out of college to tour with blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon’s band, including guitarist Robben Ford. After this stint, Ferrante moved to Los Angeles and worked with Ford and other artists, including Joe Farrell, Tom Scott, Joni Mitchell, Bobby McFerrin and Al Jarreau. Soon after, Ferrante, Ford and bassist Jimmy Haslip formed fusion jazz group the Yellowjackets, who has released an impressive string of well-received albums in its 30-year history. The group’s twentieth release, Lifecycle (Heads Up Records, 2008), was nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award, and Ferrante also was personally nominated.

In college, Feather was a theater arts major and later worked briefly as a stage actress, landing a role in the Broadway production Jesus Christ Superstar. During this time, she sang with various bands around New York, including backup for Grand Funk Railroad.

In Los Angeles, she developed her talent for writing lyrics, recorded by artists such as Patti Austin, David Benoit and Diane Schuur, and worked in the television and movie industries as a songwriter and lyricist. She’s received seven Emmy nominations; wrote the lyrics for Disney’s Dinosaurs and feature film The Jungle Book 2; and features on soundtracks Dick Tracy and For The Boys.

Feather lives in the San Juan Islands with husband Tony Morales, former drummer for The Rippingtons, David Benoit and Rickie Lee Jones.

– Gregory Brusstar


Here is the  2012 Earshot Jazz Festival schedule to see what is coming up next.

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