*Voted 'Best Jazz Act’ Worcester Phoenix*
*Features in The Boston Globe, The Providence Journal, The Hartford Courant, Worcester*
* Featured Live Performances on Boston's WGBH 89.7 FM “Live From Studio 4” - WBZ TV4 “Sunday with Liz Walker” - WICN Radio Live Broadcast*
*Top Seller on Barnes and Nobles Smooth Jazz Chart*
“The strained sexual heat of Gaye's "Let's Get It On" is transformed into five-and-a-half minutes of teasing foreplay”.
Jazz Times Magazine
“There's a music style called jazzsoul (we made it up) and our anointed queen is Boston native Cassandre McKinley”
Cassandre McKinley has never been compared to another famous singer "before her time". Instead, McKinley has enriched her musical surroundings with something honest and refreshing. Her approach to jazz is organic, instinctual and from the heart - most simply describe her as "authentic". Drawing from a diverse group of influences, McKinley has developed a sound and style that is so unique, there's no comparisons. Her voice is a blend that is true "soul" at it's core - a sound that is pure, yet sophisticated and distinctive. Many will tell you that McKinley gives every ounce of herself to the music - and the strength in her vocal performance, while dynamic and clear, leaves one wondering where this seemingly endless reserve of vocal power and prowess comes from.
McKinley grew up 20 minutes outside of Boston. She trained as a singer, dancer and actress at a very young age, but was never extreme in her focus for one or the other. The dance company she studied and performed with kept her well rounded and allowed her frequent trips to Boston and NYC where she could fulfill her passion for the arts. She began working with a vocal coach; Beatrice was a European opera singer who had retired professionally and was teaching students at The Boston Conservatory of Music. McKinley went on to attend the college and formed a special bond with the teacher.
After college, McKinley rooted herself in the city where she spent time cultivating her music skills. She frequented musical venues - listening and absorbing. Occasionally, she would have the opportunity to sit in and sing which lead to a few guest appearances in larger venues (The House of Blues, Ryles Jazz Club). It had become clear to those that had worked with McKinley, to her growing number of local fans, and McKinley herself that Jazz was not only something she had a special knack for - she felt more passion for it than any other style of music.
In 1999, McKinley had booked her first legitimate jazz gig. She took had called a few recommended players to accompany her on the gig – fortuitously, these were Boston’s best and they obliged. From that point on, she would continue building musical relationships that would strengthen her artistically. Dick Johnson (Artie Shaw Orchestra), Herb Pomeroy, Al Vega and a list of local legends - world class performers - all spent time with McKinley with a willingness to advise and educate the young singer. "Friendships like these are a gift - those gentlemen shared their individual philosophies with me - they each taught me to trust my instincts". McKinley admits that the jazz form and the art of "improvisation" appeals to her. "I love the freedom that comes with singing jazz - although there is still a form to the music, it can move and bend - it all depends on what's inside the soul and how you happen to apply it".
When asked who her influences are, she answers with a surprising mix. "Dinah Washington, Anita O'Day, Miles Davis, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Cat Stevens, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Nancy Wilson - even Elvis. Drawing from this diverse group, McKinley has developed a sound and style that is unique to her like leaves on a tree. Her soulful blend is simple, yet sophisticated - true and distinctive.
Cassandre has just released her debut album under the MAXJAZZ label titled TIL TOMORROW - REMEMBERING MARVIN GAYE. In this body of work, McKinley delivers her interpretation of selected music Gaye wrote, co-wrote and performed throughout his career. From inception to execution, McKinley's sensitivity to Gaye's message and her rich, warm sound combine to pull this project far, far away from the ordinary.
"Making this album was like reading over old pages from my journals - it was a beautiful opportunity to see where it is I've been and then, take a moment to anticipate what may be ahead."
For full press, please visit http://www.cassandremckinley.com/Press
Venues (partial list):
Scullers Jazz Club (MA)
Mechanics Hall (MA)
Chans Jazz (RI)
Jazz Bistro (MO)
Ryles Jazz Club (MA)
Enzo’s Jazz (NY, NY)
River Room of Harlem (NY)
House of Blues (NJ)
Foxwoods Casino (CT)
Radio airplay on:
300+ jazz, smooth jazz and college community stations nationwide
including 92.9 WBOS-FM, 92.5 WFNX Jazz Brunch-FM, WGBH 89.7 Boston, MA., WICN 90.5 Worcester, MA.Boston, MA
Cassandre McKinley (vocal)
Paul Beaudry (bass)
Brad Hatfield/Rick Germanson (piano)
Marty Richards/Alvin Atkinson (drums)
Different line-ups are available: intimate duo (vocal/piano or vocal/guitar), traditional trio including vocal, or full 5/6-piece lineup.
Right In Front Of You (1999) – Independent
Stay The Night (2001) – Independent
Baring The Soul (2004) – Independent
Til Tomorrow – Remembering Marvin Gaye (2006) MAXJAZZ
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Having grown up to the music of Motown legend Marvin Gaye, and even being raised for a while in his ...Having grown up to the music of Motown legend Marvin Gaye, and even being raised for a while in his own home because my babysitter also sat for his own children, I have always maintained a real penchant for Gaye—both the man and his music.
So you can imagine that I was a bit leery when I heard that the latest release by vocalist Cassandre “Cass” McKinley, a Boston Conservatory of Music graduate, who at one time didn’t know if she wanted to be a singer or a dancer, was a tribute to a man who in my child’s memory was just about as close as one could get to God—next to my Dad, of course.
Clearly objectivity was lacking as I first began to explore this artist’s effort to pay homage to Gaye—his music, his writing and his various collaborations.
But as I listened with care I slowly began to realize that McKinley was truly inspired as she moves effortlessly through the discography of Gaye while maintaining the sound and style that has become her trademark.
And perhaps that was the greater task for this clearly gifted jazz vocalist—maintaining her own voice—her own sound and style—while seeking to approach the work of one of the greatest singers of all time.
“I love the freedom that comes with singing jazz,” she further writes. “Although there is still a form to the music. It can move and bend—it all depends on what’s inside the soul and how you happen to apply it.”
The CD begins with Gaye’s “Trouble Man” on which McKinley is skillfully accompanied by Brad Hatfield on piano. As the song moves to the refrain the rest of the band joins and finally at its conclusion, only one voice is heard---the drummer’s rim shot.
What she does with “I Want You” is just magical—it’s the heart of Gaye but with the vocal inflections of Dinah (Washington) or perhaps Nancy (Wilson). And with tenderness Steven Angellis adds a cleverly arranged “voice” on the guitar. But there are two cuts that you don’t want to miss on this CD. The first is “If This World Were Mine,” a duet originally performed by Gaye and his “on stage love” (and according to some reports his off stage love interest as well) Tammi Terrell. The second is one which only the most ardent Gaye fan will even remember, “Til Tomorrow”—a beautiful and moving song which “Cass” makes her own. On this one she is accompanied by Dino Govoni, a young tenor saxophone player who is already beginning to make his mark in the world of jazz.
Sometimes McKinley interprets the music in such a manner that you think you’re in a Louisiana speakeasy while at other times it’s almost like a song made for an old-fashioned hoe down in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky. And yet the spirit of Marvin Gaye is still present. “You done good sister.” Listen for yourself, but from this writer’s perspective, Brother Marvin would approve.
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While it seems like yesterday when I raved about Cassandra McKinley's first album Stay The Night. Th...While it seems like yesterday when I raved about Cassandra McKinley's first album Stay The Night. That was five years ago. That CD proved McKinley's unerring prowess at choosing great songs. Her latest project reinforces that belief.
This album showcases the Boston songstress immersed in the music of soul legend Marvin Gaye. McKinley loves the freedom of a jazz sextet and bends Gaye's music just enough to make it her own. Happily, only five of the ten pieces are from the top of the charts. Til Tomorrow made it to number 31 in 1983. Others are virtually unknown to any but Gaye's dedicated fandom. The soul idol's compositions fit the sultry singer like an old pair of shoes. Let's Get It On receives Cassandre McKinley's ultimate foxy treatment. Stand back and feel the heat! Til Tomorrow is another gem that benefits greatly from the Beantown singer's very personal handling.
Surrounded by some prime jazz players like bassist Marty Ballou, drummer Vinny Pagano and keyboardist Brad Hatfield, the singer makes good use of their ample talents. This writer is especially impressed by Brad Hatfield's performance on the album. Hatfield is known for his appearances as accompanist with jazz diva Rebecca Parris and as soloist with the Boston Symphony's performance of Mystic River. Almost a decade ago, Rebecca Parris was the first performer to submit a CD for my review. That was almost a thousand records ago!
Cassandre McKinley delivers a confident and relaxed jazz session. Baring The Soul is a fitting tribute to a legendary singer / composer. I'll bet Marvin would heartily recommend this CD. I certainly do!
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Marvin Gaye fans rejoice! Cassandre McKinley fans rejoice! Now rejoice together! Cassandre McKinley'...Marvin Gaye fans rejoice! Cassandre McKinley fans rejoice! Now rejoice together! Cassandre McKinley's third CD is a tribute to Marvin Gaye. It is passionate, evocative and sensual. Baring The Soul The Music of Marvin Gaye is a subtle, sexy homage that is even more perfect when accompanied by a glass of wine, a crackling fire and your own true love or even potential true love.
McKinley spent two years to produce this collection. By her own admission, it was a time of personal struggle. The depth of feeling, the intensity and fire that burn in each song makes it clear that Baring The Soul is a deeply personal effort grounded in McKinley's solid musical talent and skill. Dino Govoni on tenor sax plays a beautiful duet with McKinley in "I Want You." Their voices trade back and forth in a mellow love fest, while on "Pride And Joy" their zest and joy dance out from the music. Brad Hatfield's piano on "Trouble Man" fills the space underneath the vocals with as much heart as a chorus of backup singers while maintaining a gorgeous balance that keeps a sultry urban-night feel rolling throughout. "Let's Get It On" melts. Stephen Angellis's stunning guitar work, coupled with McKinley's sultry vocals, is winning. You might want to kick your shoes off, because several of the cuts are going to make you want to dance.
This album will be a delightful addition to your collection. And hearing it will make you want to follow the career of this talented young singer. You'll be glad to know that she's cut two addition CDs.
Sets range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the venue and/or set requirements.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.