Featured Musician - January 2007
Name: Shelly Rudolph
Instrument: Voice, Songwriter
Early Years/Education: Started on classical piano at the age of six or seven and played thru junior high and then quit. In high school I started singing in the choir because a friend of mine was doing it and loving it. They encouraged me to try out for a solo jazz part and I was absolutely terrified but I got it. And I loved doing it so I just kept on. This was at South Eugene High School.
My mom was an artist and had a gallery in Eugene when I was growing up. There were always fun creative people around. When she'd paint she had this Monk recording she'd listen to and it influenced her art. A lot of the galleries in Eugene would sometimes have live jazz at their show openings; it seems it was always around.
Anyhow, while in high school, I started doing shows with my vocal coach and ended singing at Jo Federico's every week. I kept up with music but ultimately got my degree in psychology and anthropology. I finished at the University of Oregon (having started as a freshman at Sara Lawrence), then left Eugene for New York.
I moved there with my boyfriend pianist David Loy and continued to perform in a variety of settings.
We then decided to move back to the West Coast and work on our individual material. Then we got a gig to go to Japan for a few months. We performed six nights a week in a gorgeous five star hotel; it was great. After that we landed in Los Angeles and produced our CD together called "In This World." David Loy was on piano and we had Tim Curl on drums.
Portland: I finally settled in Portland about two years ago. I knew a lot of the players already, having worked with them in Eugene. By working with Ron Steen at the Hilton, I met lots more. I sing jazz but am not a "jazz singer" per se. I'm virtually self-taught except for the training I had in high school. When I perform my original music, I'm likely to have Brian Ward on piano, Tommy Sciple (New Orleans to Eugene transplant) on bass, James Travers on drums and Dan Gildea on guitar, as well as Skip Vonkuske on cello.
Musical Influences: Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, King Sunny Ade, Monk, D'Angelo (neo-soul), Rufus Wainright, Jill Scott, Lionel Loueke (guitarist). And of course, my mom, Flora Rudolph. She has had a huge influence on my creative life! She is an abstract painter, clothing designer and generally creative soul. I grew up with her painting studio in our living room, spent nights at her gallery when projects became all-nighters and was surrounded by all sort of artists growing up — visual, performance, music, dance, theater...She has always supported me in all my artistic endeavors and beyond that, she has always hoped that I would have "an art of my own"... perhaps as a hobby or a career but most important as a life force, as a reason for being.
Most Satisfying Experience: The first time I did the material from the new CD "Water in My Hand"...those shows were in southern California which is where I recorded it and the audience reception for those shows was unreal.
The band was so good and the shows were packed. I had David Piltch on bass and Ken Stang on keyboards. I wrote all the tunes on the recording and I just had to get it out! Everything came out just the way I wanted it.
Joe Woodard, the guitarist on the CD, is also a jazz writer/reviewer and he helped me translate all my random piano stuff and old four-track recordings into usable charts. Tom Lackner, the percussionist on the date, also co-produced since it was at his recording studio.
Favorite Recordings: Aretha Franklin, Jazz to Soul; Nina Simone, Live at Newport: The Village Gate and Elsewhere...; Billie Holiday, Verve Collection Labelle and the Night Birds, Night Bird; Abbey Lincoln, You Gotta Pay the Band; King Sunny Ade, Juju Music; All of Bob Marley's recordings; D'Angelo, Voodoo Orchestra Baobob, Pirate's Choice; Thelonius Monk, ‘Round Midnight; Jeff Buckley, Grace; Lionel Loueke, Gilfema; Sheila Chandra, Weaving My Ancestor's Voices; Yo Yo Ma, Inspired By Bach; Black Orpheus, the movie soundtrack (and movie!); Rufus Wainright, Rufus Wainright.
Discography: "Water in My Hand" Shelly Rudolph (Household Ink, 2005). Available at Music Millennium and online at www.shellyrudolph.com, www.cdbaby.com, and www.itunes.com. "In This World," Shelly Rudolph (Paris Fund Records, 1996). Available at cdbaby.
Where Playing Currently: Bacchus Restaurant, Shelly Rudolph Band, January 5, 8:30pm -- midnight (no cover); South View Center, 3200 SE 164th Avenue, Vancouver, WA; Bumper's Grill and Bar, Shelly Rudolph and Theo Burke, January 12-13, 7-10:30pm, www.bumpersgrill.com; Cebu Lounge, Hood River Inn, Tom Grant Trio with Shelly Rudolph, Dave Captein, Jeff Frankel, January 17, 8pm -- 11:30pm ; 1108 East Marina Way, Hood River, OR, 541.386.2200, www.hoodriverinn.com; Wilf's, Shelly Rudolph Trio, January 27, 8pm -midnight, Union Station, 800 NW Sixth Ave, PDX, www.wilfsrestaurant.com.
Gigs Coming Up: LUNA, Shelly Rudolph Band, Feb. 3, 8pm -- 11:30pm, $10 at the door; 30 E. Broadway, Eugene, 541-434-LUNA, www.lunajazz.com; Wilf's — PDX Jazz Festival, Shelly Rudolph Trio, February 21, 8pm -midnight (no cover), Union Station, 800 NW Sixth Ave, Portland, www.wilfsrestaurant.com.
Future Plans: I'd love to do a live CD...of originals and jazz standards. Another dream would be to perform here from May thru December and the rest of the time live in the Caribbean, perhaps have a little gallery/shop down there.
Other: This past year has been an incredible experience for me as an artist. Singing and writing is essential to my life and to my feeling alive, a way to connect with something more than what is readily apparent on the surface of daily life, a way to meet with others there as well. In short, it helps make life more livable on this crazy planet of ours!
-- Interviewed by Rita Rega