ESP Vocal Trio
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ESP Vocal Trio

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Band Jazz Jazz




"This jazz singer has E.S.P."

This jazz singer has E.S.P.
By Ed Symkus
Thu Mar 01, 2007, 01:13 PM EST
The vocal group E.S.P. was hatched, like many good music ideas, over a drink.
The three members — Emily Browder, Sandi Hammond and Patrice Williamson (we bet you can figure out where the group got its name) — got together about four years ago, when all three members made up the voice faculty at the New School of Music, the community music school in Cambridge.
“At first, we thought we’d get together to share teaching ideas and suggestions,” recalls Williamson. “But after a while, we decided to talk somewhere outside of the school.”
She laughs and adds, “Then we went out for a drink.”
That resulted in them performing at one gig — doing beautifully blended three-part harmony on songs such as “Everybody Loves My Baby” and “Skylark” — realizing that they sounded pretty good together, then waiting almost a year to do it again.
“Over the past couple of years,” says Williamson, “we decided to make a go of it.”
E.S.P. will make an appearance at the Real Deal Jazz Club & Café on Sunday, when Williamson mixes her solo jazz vocal material with songs with E.S.P.
The three singers make an interesting mix because they come from different genres of music. Williamson is the only jazz singer. Browder is a classical singer, and Hammond is a singer-songwriter artist.
E.S.P. has since become the vocal ensemble in residence at the New School, where they perform at various school events and have done a master class for all of the voice students. There’s also talk of sending the trio to do outreach at some Cambridge public schools.
“We’re all committed to the group,” says Williamson, “and we rehearse every week. We’re hoping to finish our debut CD by the end of this year.”
Williamson, who grew up in Memphis, got her love of jazz from her father. “When I was a child, he was so excited about Louis Armstrong and Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald. So on Saturday afternoons, when I wanted to be outside, he would say, ‘No, you’ve gotta listen to this.’
“I thought it was nice, but I was listening to Michael Jackson and Madonna and Stevie Wonder. It wasn’t until I went to college that I really started to pursue jazz.”
Not right away, though. The majority of her scholarships at the University of Tennessee were for band and orchestra, not for playing jazz. She was recruited into the school’s Studio Jazz Orchestra — sort of a big band with strings.
“During a rehearsal break with that group, I was singing either a Madonna or a Janet Jackson song,” she recalls. “The director of the group heard me and said, ‘I’ve gotta find a song for you to sing.’ ”
From that point on, she was not only a singer, she was a jazz singer, shining through with her warm, clear alto voice.
Williamson has performed at the Gardner Museum, at all kinds of restaurant gigs, and every few months at the Regattabar. This weekend marks her debut at the Real Deal.
With two well received solo albums in release (“My Shining Hour” and “Free to Dream”), and a third solo album “in my head,” Williamson also holds down a day job as unit manager in the Educational Outreach Department at WGBH, and teaches singing four nights a week, while still trying to find time to perform.
Asked who she listens to when she’s not working, she laughs and admits to being “a little out of touch with some of the newer artists. The people I really relate to are bands that were popular in the ’70s and ’80s. So it’s a lot of Stevie Wonder and a lot of Earth, Wind & Fire.”
The Patrice Williamson Group and E.S.P. perform at the Real Deal Jazz Club & Café, 41 Second St., Cam. on March 4 at 5 p.m. A performance by the Milton Academy Jazz Band is set for 2:30 p.m. For single concert or combination ticket information, please call 617-876-7777.
Ed Symkus can be reached at

- Cambridge Chronicle


Still working on that hot first release.



There are big things happening these days for ESP vocal trio! They have been hard at work on their debut studio CD. Produced by Mark Shilansky, the group's pianist and primary arranger, the CD will feature new takes on jazz classics (a gospel-laden "There is No Greater Love"), original pieces that will hopefully enter the jazz canon (Emily Browder and Biff Smith's "Apple Brown Betty"), and jazzi-fications of popular songs by some of the group's favorite artists (Joni Mitchell's "Help Me," John Hiatt's "Have a Little Faith in Me"). In addition, the group has been fortunate to work with vocal coach Kim Nazarian, soprano and founding member of the Grammy award winning group New York Voices. The main recording is finished, and the group is in the mixing phase with esteemed engineer Huck Bennert (Lori McKenna, Duke Robillard, Chip Taylor), but you can preview three of the new tracks ("Apple Brown Betty," "They All Laughed", and "There is No Greater Love") in the "Audio" portion of this Press Kit. The CD is set for release in late-summer, after which the group will embark on a CD release promotional tour of several venues in New England and beyond.

About the members:

"Patrice Williamson isn't a singer, she's a one-woman jazz sampler... She is a woman of many voices, each distinctly intriguing, all distinctly her own." - JazzTimes

Patrice Williamson
whose fluent scat style and sensitive ballad work have earned her Boston Magazine's "Best of Boston" award and several Boston Music Award nominations, is a favorite in Boston and beyond. She's been heard at both the Tanglewood and Marblehead Jazz Festivals, as well as at the International Women's Forum in Singapore. Both of her independent recordings, My Shining Hour and Free to Dream, have received high praise from jazz critics around the country. She is also actively passing on her knowledge and love of the jazz tradition through her teaching at Berklee College of Music and The New School of Music in Cambridge.

"Possessing a gorgeous voice, Sandi Hammond is a melodic, keyboard-based folk-club singer who exists far beyond what's normally thought of as folk..." - Boston Herald

Sandi Hammond
is a Boston-based indie singer-songwriter who writes in an alternative style all her own on both piano and guitar. With two solo records behind her (Rubbergirl on Aspire Records and This Summer Night on Brave Records) and a track on the internationally renowned Respond compilation (Columbia Records), she is currently working on an original two-act musical with gospel-style songs, in collaboration with songwriter-lyricist Mark Stepakoff. Sandi also runs her own commissioned songwriting business, Your Own Lullaby.

"Singers of the caliber of Emily Browder are sheer lagniappe..."- Boston Globe

Emily Browder
has received critical acclaim in the Boston area as a versatile singing actress. She has sung several roles with Opera Boston and has also appeared as a soloist with Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), Opera UnLimited, the Cantata Singers, the Boston Music Theater Project, Boston Vocal Artists, New England Voices, and various Walter Robinson productions. She can be heard in the role of The Boy on BMOP's acclaimed recording of Lukas Foss's Griffelkin (Chandos) and as Eve in Daniel Pinkham's GardenParty (Arsis). Upcoming releases include The Humble Heart, produced by New England Voices.

Mark Shilansky
began playing the piano and writing songs at the age of eight and is still at it. Active as a pianist, singer/songwriter, producer and arranger, Mark has worked with such artists as New York Voices, Luciana Souza, Kenny Wheeler, Claudio Roditi, and Clark Terry. He has appeared on over 40 CDs, including three as a leader, First Look (1997), Different Songs (2000), and Other Voices (2003), and serves as an Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music and the University of NH.