Chris McNulty
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Chris McNulty

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Chris McNulty @ Jazz Festival, Jazz Divas

Howden, Not Applicable, United Kingdom

Howden, Not Applicable, United Kingdom

Chris McNulty @ Melbourne Jazz Festival, Concert

Melbourne, Not Applicable, Australia

Melbourne, Not Applicable, Australia

Chris McNulty @ Melbourne Jazz Festival, Concert

Melbourne, Not Applicable, Australia

Melbourne, Not Applicable, Australia

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“If you share the idea that an album, a jazz album, that entertains and moves you is the result of the confluence of heartfelt performances by sensitive and experienced creative artists, a relaxed intensity at all tempos, enlightened solos, compelling compositions, deft arrangements, delightful musical dialogue, all in a superb warm audio recording, thoughtfully mixed – then the twelve tracks on vocalist Chris McNulty’s new album, Whispers the Heart will provide a wonderful journey.

McNulty’s intonation and articulation are commanding - and provide a preview for the level of musical excellence and creative artistry with which she leads throughout the album. McNulty scats and she is marvelous. Whether she is singing the lyrics or improvising, McNulty demonstrates a commanding sense of rhythm that is evident in the way she bend the rhythms, syncopating phrases in unexpected ways…

The album is a cornucopia of all those abstract elements that identify a great performance, and a consummately musical album. What are those elements? They are what enables the music, that is otherwise nothing more than notes on paper, and a few people that show up with musical instruments to play, and whose names later appear on an album jacket, to tap into a certain energy stream and resonate together in extraordinary ways. That’s what happens here on Chris McNulty’s Whispers the Heart.”
- Clive Griffin, Jazz Improv Magazine, Oct 2006

There is so much to commend about the album: above all, the versatile, soothing, swimming voice of Australian-born McNulty; her writing and arranging skills; and the writing and arranging chops of Paul Bollenback (plus his guitar playing). The musical diversity on display is equally impressive" standards sprinkled throughout; rarities by Jobim, Bernstein, and Thad Jones; a surprise guest appearance by Frank Wess, whose tenor timbre is remarkably similar to McNulty's'; and the solo gems from the regulars: tenorist Dave Pietro, on "Lonely Town"; soprano saxophonist Tineke Postma, on "Springosphere"; Bollenback's rubato guitar cushion for McNulty on "I Should Care"; pianist Gary Versace on the same track, when it evolves into a straight-ahead swinger; also in the solo column "McNulty's confident scat chorus on "Come Rain or Shine" and flugelhornist Ingrid Jensen on "Quiet Your Thoughts, Part 2." That segues conveniently to McNulty's compositional chops. If McNulty's vocalizing is fearless, then her writing is peerless. In part one of "Quiet Your Thoughts," "Springosphere" and "Lullaby for a Young Boy," her explorations seem to transcend to a free zone between jazz and modern symphonic. She has thrown off the shackles of strict rhythms and bar lines tend to vanish. So don't try to dance to those tracks. This, her sixth album, should not merely be listened to, but carefully digested. - JAZZ TIMES - Harvey Siders – December 2006

Jazz singer Chris McNulty gets right to the work of jazz & vocal horn lines with her singular take of the cogent Cole Porter original, 'All Of You.' Chris stretches & soars in & out of the lyric, harmony, & melody, et al. Through it all, the tune emerges whole. This is a girl who can tear a song apart viably in front of your very ears......And, what a joyful noise she makes as the musical pieces break off & hit our senses beautifully.

George W. Carroll, The Musicians' Ombudsman, July 9th, 2005
- The Musicians' Ombudsman, July 9th, 2005

If you're not in a jazz mood, you will be when you listen to the title track..... The recording is superb, & will have jazz fans dazed for days. This lady isn't afraid to step into new territory, & it's evident from the broad range of styles on the album... she sings material by Annie Lennox, Cole Porter & Bobby Troup - & does it her own way! True talent is rare, but it's clear that Ms. McNulty has it in spades... along with a joy for singing that communicates to the listener without her having to try (or so it sounds). You won't find an album quite as timeless again this year, I'll bet you... if you love great jazz vocals, you'll HAVE to get this one! This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best female jazz vocals". Cool jazz, but with vigor! Get more information at her site. - Dick Metcalf,Improvijazzation Nation, July 2005

God, I got a hot flash after I hard this lady sing. She whispers dynamically. McNulty possesses great taste, she’s got it all…control, vocalese, vibrato, et al….nothing routine & unimaginative here…rather sexy, definitive, and alive! McNulty is capable of injecting emotion, pathos, irony & meaning into her work, a gift that few singers can lay claim to.

- George W. Carroll/The Musician’s Ombudsman, August 2006

**** 4 Stars
Australian-born but resident in NYC since 1988, Chris McNulty's 2005 release Dance Delicioso demonstrated a finely honed improvisational sensibility delivered with an intense depth of feeling. The singer's sixth release Whispers the Heart is an even finer record, confirming her standing as one of the foremost singer-composers on the scene today. As both the hard swinging opener 'Summer Me, Winter Me' and 'Come Rain Or Shine' illustrate, at the up-tempo end of things McNulty delivers with power and passion in equal measure. But it's her balladeering skills that impress the most, her liquid phrasing and luminous tone underscoring a voice of serene beauty and striking veracity. The compelling emotional fervency of Bacharach and David's 'Make lt Easy On Yourself is topped off by a meltingly lovely solo courtesy of tenor sax great Frank Wess. Similarly outstanding are the ardent interpretations of 'lf You Never Come' (Jobim/Gilbert) and 'How Deep ls The Ocean' (Berlin). - Peter Quinn, Jazz Wize - UK Jan 2007

On her fifth CD release, Dance Delicioso, Australian-born vocalist Chris McNulty sings a couple of classics, Cole Porter's “All of You” and the tried and true “Star Eyes”, giving each tune a distinctive turn. The familiar melodies are surrounded here by McNulty's well-crafted original tunes, Annie Lennox's “Primitive,” Bobby Troup's “Meaning of the Blues,” and the haunting traditional Irish song “He Moved Through the Fair.”

You often hear the words “sultry” and “sensuous” used to describe the voices of lady singers, but McNulty doesn't strike me that way. Hers is a richly feminine sound, with a dash of sauce on “All of You,” a jaunty, melody-stretching romp that has an innovative feel to it. McNulty sounds sad—in a recovery mode from love lost, perhaps—on Bobby Troup's “Meaning of the Blues,” a take on the tune that contains a bunch of exquisite moments, like Sonny Barbato's sweet accordion work, with a gorgeous little solo in front of the whisper of Paul Bollenback's accoustic guitar. On “Star Eyes,” McNulty goes with a more horn-like delivery, reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald as she pushes the melody around inside a bouncy arrangement.

The set, produced by McNulty and guitarist Paul Bollenback, has a high polish. Those exquisite moments I mentioned in “Meaning of the Blues” applies to every song here, with some surprises. The traditional Irish tune “He Moved Through the Fair” is done with a dark yet airy style that features Erik Friedlander's deep-toned cello sound. The McNulty-penned title tune tells a handful of life-affirming stories, with some lush background harmonies, and listen to her voice as it rises from womanly to girlish as she tells a young girl's tale. A beautiful, original, polished effort.
Dan McClenaghan, July-August 2005

- Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz. July-August 2005

“…she's a much more impressive performer than the more celebrated Diana Krall and Jane Monheit, and considerably more the real thing, where jazz is concerned, than Norah Jones. How she isn't better known is a mystery... even when she took frequent liberties with the lines of each song they had musical purpose, and she never lost her sense of engagement with the words. They produced a brilliant, languorous The Meaning Of The Blues, an easy, loping Easy To Love and Star Eyes, a beautifully phrased It Might As Well Be Spring and My Romance, and a gorgeous, slow It Never Entered My Mind that came close to equaling The Meaning Of The Blues as the best of the night. McNulty's willingness to open songs a cappella, or with the minimal support of guitar…time and again, the drawn-out codas offered compelling examples of group interaction….an engrossing demonstration of the art of jazz singing.” - The Irish Times, Dublin, January 2005

I Remember You is the third release from vocalist Chris McNulty – and a swinging, musical recording at that. The album was recorded in 2001. That ought not matter to listeners who are pre-eminently concerned with the quality of the music and the product, as opposed to judging a release based on how new the release may be. McNulty sensitively interprets the lyrics and music of eleven standards. The musical accompaniment is stellar, swinging and thoroughly, and tastefully complementing McNulty’s creative energy. “A House is Not a Home” is magnificent in its spirited swing groove and the sensitive employment of dynamics to underscore McNulty’s vocalese and changing colors. Following Bollenback’s driving guitar solo, Budway builds a lush piano solo out of the very subtle and sparse beginnings, using space impeccably.

McNulty and the group further develop their identity as a sensitive interactive recording unit, as they explore Cole Porter’s “So In Love” as an understated bossa-nova. McNulty is relaxed, and her fine intonation, and apparent ease of phrasing, make this a compelling performance. “Young and Foolish” is another highlight of this album. Listen carefully and maybe, like me, it will make you want to dance. Okegwo, Cruz and Budway are delightful together with McNulty. And Budway turns in another lyrical solo, that I would have loved to have heard continue longer.

There are a couple of ballad interpretations that are worth noting on I Remember You. “Pablo” is a sweet ballad by McNulty. Accompanied only by Michael Kanan on piano, the piece is introspective and slow. Her composition certainly communicates that her talent goes way beyond mere vocal stylist. The classic “The Party’s Over,” features Budway and McNulty alone. Picture that way-past midnight milieu, the winding down, pensive mist, and they perfectly illustrate that quiet.

McNulty is wonderfully expressive and demonstrates soaring confidence on the tile tune “I Remember You.” Her broad range of dynamics and deft vocal skills shine as she moves from the “A” section into the bridge. Joel Frahm contributes an exceptional solo, brimming with inventive rhythmic ideas, and melodic mastery.

McNulty, originally from Australia, developed her interest in jazz in her early 20’s, when she was magnetized by legendary jazz vocalists such as Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday, among others. She began leading her own jazz groups thereafter. Her first visit to the United States in 1985 apparently lay the seeds for eventual migration. An International Study Grant from the Australia Council resulted in her migration to the United States, where she expectedly settled in New York, the world’s number one jazz market.

I Remember You is an enjoyable listen and provides a rewarding introduction to this talented vocalist.

- Winthrop Bedford, Jazz Improv Magazine - August 2005

Although Chris McNulty will undoubtedly be classified as a jazz vocalist, she is way beyond that. She is a true musician, which any great artist whose medium happens to be music, should be classified as. She is a musician whose voice is her instrument, and what a great voice she has. She can handle the harmonies and intricacies of the compositions she chooses so well and flawlessly. Chris McNulty is an exquisite instrument, along the lines of a Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald. Chris was brought to my attention by my friend Peter Leitch. Peter co-produced her recording “A Time For Love” on the Amosaya label on which I performed with Peter, John Hicks and others. I was attracted first by her voice and secondly by her choice of songs. No run of the mill material. When Chris asked me to do her liner notes I was honored. But even more than that, I couldn’t wait to hear what she was doing on her latest recording. As usual, her choice of songs was great and her voice has grown even more lush and she is in control no matter where she takes a melody. If there is any justice, Chris McNulty will be the next great voice. She already is as far as I am concerned. --- Gary Bartz
- I Remember You, Liner notes - Gary Bartz, 2004


Whispers the Heart (ED4549) Elefant Dreams - 2006
Dance Delicioso (ED4547) Elefant Dreams - 2005
I Remember You (MC4546) Mop Top - 2004 - (ED4546) Elefant Dreams - 2006
A Time For Love (MC4545 Amosaya - 1996 (ED4545) Elefant Dreams - 2006
Big Apple Voices - Venus Records - 1995
Waltz For Debby - Discovery - 1991


Feeling a bit camera shy


Whispers the Heart (ED4549 - Elefant Dreams):

The album is a cornucopia of all those abstract elements that identify a great performance, and a consummately musical album. What are those elements? They are what enables the music, that is otherwise nothing more than notes on paper, and a few people that show up with musical instruments to play, and whose names later appear on an album jacket, to tap into a certain energy stream and resonate together in extraordinary ways. That’s what happens here on Chris McNulty’s Whispers the Heart.”

Clive Griffin, Jazz Improv, October 2006.

Chris' story.....

McNulty first visited New York City in 1985 and settled there in 1988 after being awarded an International Study Grant from the Australia Council. Since then Chris has garnered further accolades from critics, jazz musicians and fans alike. She has collaborated and performed with some of the finest musicians on the jazz scene today including: Gary Bartz, Paul Bollenback, Gary Thomas, Mulgrew Miller, Ugonna Okegwo, John Hicks, Frank Wess, Ingrid Jensen, Terri-Lyne Carrington, Tim Garland, Tom Lellis, Billy Hart, Ed Howard, Jeff Ballard, Dave Pietro, Joe Locke, Peter Leitch, Tineke Postma, James Genus, , Matt Wilson, Jeff “Tain” Watts, David “Fathead” Newman, George Mraz, Kenny Washington, Steve Wilson, Joel Frahm, Gary Versace, David Budway, Harvey S and Tony Reedus.

In 1990, Chris's debut recording in the States, Waltz For Debby (Discovery 1990), received outstanding reviews in several publications and features the official published lyric by Chris of the great Miles Davis classic, “Blue in Green.” In 1994 Chris was also honored to be selected as one of the six exceptional new jazz singers on the New York scene to be featured on the Venus recording, “Big Apple Voices”. Chris has gone on to record several CD’s since then, A Time for Love (Amosaya 1996), I Remember You (Mop Top 2004- re-released on Elefant Dreams 2006), Dance Delicioso (Elefant Dreams 2005) and her most recent and highly acclaimed Whispers the Heart (Elefant Dreams 2006) which has been included on the Jazz Journalist Assocation's (JJA) list of Top 10 recordings of 2006. Her development over this period of time from lyricist to full fledged composer has been duly noted in major press reviews and articles.

In between raising her son Sam, Chris has managed to maintain an active profile and presence on the international scene as both performer and recording artist. Her touring schedule has taken her to all four corners of the globe and includes festival appearances in the UK (Brecon, Wales) Ireland (Kilkenny), Russia (St. Petersberg, Moscow), Australia (Melbourne), Belize (San Pedro). In 2002 Chris toured Russia with Paul Bollenback and appeared at the very first St. Petersburg Jazz Festival. They have since returned to Russia for several concert and club engagements and will be performing in Moscow this coming May 2007. Together, McNulty and Bollenback's magnetic and captivating performances have led to ever increasing festival dates around the world.

Chris' music has received major recognition on national radio throughout the States, UK, Australia, Ireland, Canada and Europe. Recent major features include Michael Jacobi's "Raising the Standards" at KRML Jazz Radio as well as Doug Spence's nationally syndicated program, “The Nightly Planet” from ABC Australia. Dance Delicioso and Whispers the Heart were both included on the Grammy's pre-nomination ballot for the last two years respectively.

On Paul Bollenback’s 6th release Brightness of Being , released March 2006, Chris’ vocalese work is featured amongst a stellar cast of jazz luminaries including David “Fathead” Newman, Tim Garland, Gary Thomas, Terri-Lyne Carrington, James Genus and Ari Hoenig. McNulty’s 6th release in the States, Whispers the Heart, features several new outstanding original works and arrangements including a string quartet written by Chris, along with featured guests including jazz great Frank Wess, Ingrid Jensen, Paul Bollenback (Paul also shares executive and co-producing credits), Ed Howard, Dave Pietro, Tineke Postma, Gary Versace, Matt Wilson, Rogerio Boccato and Montez Coleman.

Increasingly acknowledged by musicians, peers and critics alike as a jazz vocalist-composer with a unique vision, boundless creative energy and strong individual style. McNulty's risk-taking, fluid and powerful emotional approach, support, but never compromise her musical sensibilities. As both vocalist and composer, McNulty breaks new ground by simultaneously reinforcing and re-defining the boundaries for jazz vocals. In short, she is a consummate musician with great pitch and control "capable of injecting emotion, pathos, irony & meaning into her work ..a gift that few singers can lay claim to.” George Carroll, The Musicians Ombudsman, Aug 2006. Her compositions have been hailed as rich harmonically, melodically and lyrically and well worthy of the company they keep al