Veronica Swift, Friday, Aleathea's; Saturday, April 13, 4:00pm, It's A Breeze and Hawk Haven Vineyard Stage in Cape May Convention Hall

The Story

One of the sparkling new voices on the jazz scene today, Veronica Swift has come to prominence in guest appearances with trumpeter Chris Botti, pianist Benny Green and fellow vocalist and Ambassador of the Great American Songbook, Michael Feinstein. Last December she also guested with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on their 14-city Big Band Holidays tour, bringing good cheer to audiences from Ann Arbor to Austin to Atlanta, concluding with a five-night residency at Rose Theater, Marsalis’ House of Swing in New York City. A powerful onstage presence and adept lyrical interpreter with tremendous tonal command and a dramatic penchant for space and dynamics, Swift’s mature delivery belies her young age. The 24-year-old singer, a second place winner in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition for 2015, has already traveled the country and performed in such faraway venues as Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai and Marian’s Jazz Showroom in Bern, Switzerland - and at the Exit Zero Jazz Festival last Spring as a guest with Chris Botti.

Born in a musical household (her parents are the renowned jazz pianist Hod O’Brien and celebrated jazz singer Stephanie Nakasian), Veronica recorded two CDs as a child – one at age 9 with Richie Cole and her father’s rhythm section and her mother (Veronica’s House of Jazz) and one at age 13 with saxophonist Harry Allen (It’s Great To Be Alive). Her 2015 album Lonely Woman garnered wide critical acclaim. Watch for her upcoming release on Mack Avenue Records. “I’m really lucky because my dad was one of the last pianists from the bebop era, so he’s as authentic as it gets,” she told Birdland Jazz. “So growing up with that kind of music around me, it was a lot more natural for me to gravitate to. Now I’m not actively thinking about preserving it because it’s just a way of life for me. I like to mix it up between Great American Songbook and obscure tunes. Basically, a jazz singer is a storyteller. I have to sing lyrics that will apply to a large range of ages and races. That’s what jazz does.”

The Sound

Inspired by the late, great Anita O’Day, Veronica not only has perfect pitch, tone and phrasing, she is also a world-class scat singer, as she demonstrates on the whirlwind romp “Split Kick” from Benny Green’s 2018 release, Then And Now. “I listen to Anita O’Day the most,” she told . Because her time is effortless. She doesn’t ever sound like she’s pushing anything, there’s no show about it, it’s always so subtle. And I try to not imitate, but emulate. Especially over really fast tempos, she just floats, and that’s something — that ease, her manipulation of phrase and time to make it a different song. That’s what I love.” Meanwhile, swing is at the core of everything that Swift does on the bandstand. She is definitely a talent worthy of wider recognition.

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Michael Kline