Aug 15, 2019
One of the most memorable performances at the 2019 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival was given by singer Veronica Swift. Backed by pianist Emmet Cohen’s trio, she transported the crowd with songs that recalled the thirties and forties, but were thoroughly modern in her approach and style. With charisma to spare, she gave notice that she was someone to watch for.
This week Mack Avenue Records releases Veronica’s latest CD, Confessions. At the age of 25, she has recorded a handful of previous works, making her recording debut at the precocious age of nine with saxophonist Richie Cole. Recorded with either Cohen’s trio (bassist Russell Hall and drummer Kyle Poole) or the group lead by Benny Green (bassist David Wong and drummer Carl Allen), she has reached out for some memorable tunes that not only showcase her voice and range, but fit her persona as well. It’s one of the best vocal CDs of the year.
The daughter of the late pianist Hod O'Brien (Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Oscar Pettiford) and singer Stephanie Nakasian (more than a dozen CD releases as leader or guest), Ms. Swift was raised in Charlottesville, where her mother taught at the University of Virginia. A graduate of the Frost School at the University of Miami, she was runner-up in the 2015 Thelonious Monk Competition. Since then, she has toured as featured vocalist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Chris Botti and headlined top festivals like the annual Telluride Jazz Festival.
Podcast 694 is my conversation with Veronica, as we discuss how she picks tunes to cover, her personal and professional relationship with her mother, and her plans for moving beyond the sometimes stifling label of “jazz singer”. Musical selections from Confessions include “You’re Gonna Hear From Me”, “I’m Hip”, and her own “I Hope She Makes You Happy.”