Wednesday March 25 2009 7:30PM $15 @ Regattabar at the Charles Hotel, One Bennett Street Cambridge, MA 02138. FOR TICKETING CALL 617.395.7757
OR CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR TICKETS
Wild-haired, wildly original, Motema Records recording artist KJ Denhert delivers a musical mix of urban, folk and jazz along with her band, The NY Unit. Her latest live CD, Dal Vivo A Umbria Jazz, was voted among the 50 best jazz CDs of 2008 by Jazz.com. The CD, recorded in Orvieto, Italy, features seven Denhert originals plus notably stylized covers of The Beatles, Sting, and Harburg and Arlen.
KJ, born Karen Jeanne Denhert in Brooklyn NY, is a self taught guitarist with impeccable dexterity and heart, a singer with a passionate voice, and a cerebrally lyrical songwriter. When asked to describe the essence of what she learned from her musical mentors, it was harmony from Joni Mitchell, precision from Steely Dan, Sergio Mendez provided a visceral groove, James Taylor guitar voicing, Hubert Laws improvization, and Sting arrangement.
Artists never seem to want to pick a favorite song, but one KJ is proud of is HOW MANY WAYS. She says it’s about pain, isolation and change making it a song of hope.
KJ thinks musically. She hears music before anything–the rhythm, harmony and melody first. Lyrics to KJ are like watercolor painting. She paints with words. And if she weren’t a musician she’d be a writer or comic…a sitcom writer would cover both bases!
The New York native, with parental roots in the Caribbean island of Grenada, traded a brutal New York winter for a month-long gig at Baz Bar in St. Barth. The stay produced a new French song commemorating the bar’s 10th anniversary, a new reggae tune, and some new takes on songs like How Many Ways and Man As a Man, a song about her late father.
KJ has one of the tighest bands around. Members include bass player Mamadou Ba from Senegal who’s played with Harry Belafonte, Regina Carter and Leni Stern; drummer Ray Levier (John Abercrombie, Francois Moutin, Mike Stern); adding a new flavor to the band is saxophonist Aaron Heick, known for his eight plus years touring with Chaka Kahn, his work with bassist Richard Bona, and countless other recording projects. The pairing of Heick’s lyrical saxophone with Denhert’s ensemble turned out to be live magic. «I didn’t invite Aaron because I wanted to add saxophone to the band, I invited him because I wanted to add Aaron Heick!» said Denhert. In fact, the chemistry was so strong that Heick has been touring with KJ ever since, and was a key man on hand when she and the band opened for Alicia Keys on the main stage at Umbria this past summer. Bennett Paster rounds out the band on keyboards (Kurt Elling, Cassandra Wilson, Rufus Reid); Percussionist and label-mate «Bujo» Kevin Jones who has recorded with the Isley Bros, Gloria Gaynor and Winard Harper, is also a regular with KJ’s NY Unit, adding percussion tracks on «August Clown» and «Message in a Bottle» during the NYC mixing sessions.
Before heading out to a gig, KJ might hop on Facebook or My Space and say «Time to make the donuts!» With 8 releases, including Dal Vivo a Umbria Jazz, her latest, Lucky Seven, Another Year Gone By, The Songwriters Notebook, Girl Like Me, Live, Looking Forward Looking Back, and the Cyclone Sisters, that’s nearly a dozen!
In addition to the Birchmere, KJ will be at a number of other East Coast venues in March including a debut performance on March 25th at the Regatta Bar in Boston, The Living Room in NYC, and on WFUV’s Sunday Breakfast program. Her ten year residency at New York’s underground jewel, The 55 Bar, c