Keri Johnsrud
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Keri Johnsrud

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1999 | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1999
Band Jazz Adult Contemporary

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Mar
05
Keri Johnsrud @ Tomi Jazz

New York, NY

New York, NY

Feb
05
Keri Johnsrud @ Tomi Jazz

New York, NY

New York, NY

Jan
18
Keri Johnsrud @ Drunken Bean Coffee and Wine Bar

Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL

Music

Press


For her sophomore effort “This Side Of Morning”, vocalist Keri Johnsrudpresents a collection of original material co-written with pianist Kevin Bales. Featuring a powerhouse band of Chicago musicians including guitarist Neal Alger, bassist Larry Kohut, drummer Jon Deitemyer, and vibraphonist Stephen Lynerd, Johnsrud explores a range of emotions in what amounts to a wonderful album of poetry set to music.
Much of the album conveys a sense of hope in times of loss. Keri describes difficult situations with a depth that evokes tenderness without coming across as trite or campy. Many of the questions asked in the lyrics read rhetorical, as if the overall melancholy tone of the music provides enough of an answer.
The inherent risk in combining elegies in narrative form with improvised music is that the two competing ideologies can sometimes create a final product that sounds forced and unnatural. Keri manages to keep things organic by employing a diverse range of musical styles to accompany her through-composed lyrics. The grooves on “From Here” and “The Chameleon” provide welcome contrast to the free-form solo sections featured in “A Thousand Tears” and “Fly Away”. Keri Johnsrud's crystal clear voice and impeccable intonation allow her to project true sentiment through dense lyrical material on this gem of an album. - All About Jazz


Jazz singer Keri Johnsrud’s new album is her first of all-original material, which proves to be a smart move. Writing her own songs (with pianist Kevin Bales) gives her an opportunity to tailor each tune to her voice—which is cool, agile and intimate; and while she borrows from established genres for rhythm and color, the point of view can’t help remaining entirely her own. “From Here” is a superb opener, drawing you in with a persistent but not overpowering groove, over which Johnsrud glides like a figure-skater. There’s a seventies flavor to it—and I mean that in the best sense; the solos by Bales and bassist Larry Kohut have the rippling, liquid quality of that decade’s best fusion. “When Morning Dawns,” by contrast, has the feel of a classical art song, while “If and When” is breezy and bossa-inflected, and “Everything’s Okay” could almost be a Broadway anthem. The lyrics throughout aren’t quite so adventurous, tending to hew to exploration of feelings and fears in terms not entirely new to listeners; but they serve the material well, and occasionally offer up some turns of phrase that make you sit up and take notice, as in the wave-like ballad, “A Thousand Tears”: “Sweet is your word / Tender is your touch / You’re the one everyone wants / But nobody gets / ‘Better days ahead’ is what they always say / But who, who are they?” Johnsrud never sells any line short, and her commitment wins you over—as does the sheer suppleness and sweetness of her singing. She remains self-confidently sangfroid—there’s no tail-wagging appeal for your approval—which is probably why she secures it. Ditto her players, who in addition to Bales and Kohut include Jon Deitemyer on drums, Stephen Lynerd on vibes and Neal Alger on guitar. Everyone manages a few killer solos—notably Lynerd with a beautifully contemplative performance on “Here I Am,” and Deitemyer and Alger with rousing funk turns on the album’s sizzling closer, “The Chameleon.” I missed the CD-release gig at the Green Mill earlier this month; I’d have liked to see whether a full, energized room inspired Johnsrud and the players to add a little heat to the mix. But there’s always next time. Until then, I’ll keep spinning this baby, and chilling out to its seductive cool. - New City Music


Clear-toned vocalist Keri Johnson mixes jazz with dashes of pop and folk here with Kevin Bales/p-rho, Larry Kohut/b, Neal Alger/g, Jon Deitemeyer/dr and Stephen Lynard/vib. She’s a throwback to the days of singer/songrwriter, and handles both roles with freshness and allure.
She’s able to sound convincing in a variety of moods. She teams with Kohut on a stark and harrowing “Here I Am” and yet can go comforting and childlike on the tender “Everything’s Okay.” With Bales, she goes dreamy on “When Morning Dawns’ and vulnerable on”Little Dreams. She proves she’s able to flex her muscles, getting feisty with the band on”The Cameleon’ and slinking along wieht a samba on “If and When.” She wins you over by being winsome. - Jazz Weekly


Keri Johnsrud - This Side of Morning

Jazz vocalist and composer Keri Johnsrud released her stunning debut album, ‘All Blue’ back in 2010, but her talents extended well before then. As an integral part of the Chicago Jazz scene for the past fifteen years, featuring headline appearances at some of Chicago’s top venues and a monthly residency at Southport & Irving, her voice and talents have helped to shape a blossoming world of jazz music, and now with the release of her sophomore album, ‘This Side of Morning’, Johnsrud has once again taken a giant step forward.

While her debut album captured the mood of smokey jazz clubs and bright city lights, ‘This Side of Morning’ takes a new turn, marking Johnsrud’s first all original project. A collaborative effort with pianist Kevin Bales, bassist Larry Kohut, guitarist Neal Alger, drummer Jon Deitemyer, and Stephen Lynerd on vibes; the album sees Johnsrud’s vocals matched perfectly by the talented ensemble, creating a pristine and heavy evocative series of soundscapes.

Early into opening number ‘From Here’, the startling clarity in Johnsrud’s vocal is made abundantly clear. Sweetly laced with a sentimental tone, her voice mingles perfectly with the simmering jazz sound that come to the fore, and as the music transforms into a mix of solos, the stage is all but set for something special. following tracks ‘When Morning Dawns’, Little Dream’, and ‘Here I Am’ showcase the wonder of Johnsrud’s vocals, capturing a truly melancholic feel that rings cohesively throughout the backing jazz tones, and while ‘If and When’ and ‘Your Way’ do well to assert a more upbeat energy, you can’t help but feel your heart start to linger within the deeply emotive slower tracks. Bringing the album to a close is ‘The Chameleon’, a fun take on narrative song writing that blends free form composition with an ingrained funk feel Deitemyer and Alger do a fantastic job setting the pace, while the vocals add that added spark that really brings the song together at the chorus.

For only her second album, and her first of all-original material, ‘This Side of Morning’ does an incredible job at portraying the complexity and flexibility of Keri Johnsrud’s vocal talents, but it also showcases the wealth of talent that lies behind the voice. Each element of the album is largely cohesive and organic, fro the jubilant melodies to the harrowing harmonies, and while incredible thanks must go to Bales, Kohut, Alger, Deitemyer, and Lynerd, it is clear they play a supporting role to an enormous talent.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Anthem: If and When - Anthem Review


Chicago vocalist Keri Johnsrud’s first album of original material, This Side of Morning, walks a fine line between classic jazz and classic FM radio.

The album’s ten tracks, co-written with pianist Kevin Bales, do feature musical instrumentation and motifs consistent to jazz, although there are nods to artists like Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers and Billy Joel, all of whom ruled FM radio in the 70s.

Opening track “From Here” strikes gold with this crossover formula, while “When Morning Dawns” is more subdued and artful; still crossover (think Joni Mitchell circa The Hissing of Summer Lawns) but more likely to appeal to listeners weaned on Billie Holiday rather than Billy Joel.

Elsewhere, “Here I Am” benefits from some fine standup bass (courtesy of Larry Kohut) while “A Thousand Years” is a jazz tour de force; Neal Alger’s guitar work on par with avant-garde players Marc Ribot and Robert Fripp.

This Side of Morning closes with two especially strong tracks: “Fly Away” may just be Johnsrud’s best vocal of the set and is matched by Jon Deitemyer’s top-flight drumming, while “The Chameleon” takes us back to Stevie Wonder’s flawless 1970’s period where funk, soul and jazz shared a frequency on the airwaves. - Radio One Chicago


“Particularly compelling are the wordless vocals of Keri Johnsrud. Singers frequently talk about their instrument being on equal footing with the other players on the bandstand, and that’s certainly the case with Johnsrud’s contributions here. Whether she’s adroitly echoing another player’s riff in “From Parts Unknown” or injecting a touch of bossa nova flavor to “Full Count,” her vocals add compelling textures without being overly showy.” - Bobby Reed - Downbeat Magazine


"Johnsrud has a soft, flexible voice with a hint of a Nancy Wilson influence and she knows how to play with lyrics even in a straight Jazz arrangement..." - Jerome Wilson - Cadence Magazine


When “Anything Goes” tiptoes in atop “All Blues,” you know you’re not in familiar Cole Porter territory. Indeed, the long-anticipated debut album from Chicago vocal stylist Keri Johnsrud is largely about finding the unexpected in the familiar. The bright shimmer of her voice, a crystalline instrument of deceptivity simple beauty, defies the depth of her artistry.
Consider, for example, how her “Old Country” at first echoes Nancy Wilson’s classic rendering before following Matt Cashdollar’s lilting flue to a dramatically darker space. Similarly, her “The Great City” starts out on the expected Shirley Horn path, then, turning on the word “whirlpool,” descends to a harsher yet still intoxicating place. On “A Blossom Fell, “ Johnsrud echoes Nat Cole’s tender regret and is ignited by Darren Scorza’s smoldering drum line; the heat of her anger slowly rises, and the performance builds to a scorching finish.
More startlingly orginal is the onomatopoetic way in which she makes the walls crumble and the winds blow on “Cabin,” and how she loosens “Cryin’ Time” from its desolate Ray Charles grip and reshapes it as a quietly contemplative study in shrugged acceptance. (Emotional tumult ebbs and flows around her, courtesy of the gifted pianist Matt Nelson.) Which isn’t to suggest that Johnsrud can’t just settle into a lovely ballad, as she does on a dove-soft “But Beautiful” and a sweet, gently bossa-fueled “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.” - Christopher Loudon – JazzTimes Magazine


Chicago-based singer, Keri Johnsrud has a unique and appealing voice. Sweet, clear and understated, but the girl can tinge it with blue more naturally than many of the female vocalist trying for that vein. In addition, she has eclectic and fascinating taste – with the songs on her debut album ranging from well-known and lesser-known standards like Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," Harold Arlen's "For Every Man There's a Woman," Nat Adderley and Curtis R. Lewis' "(The Old Man From) The Old Country" and Burke/Van Huesen's "But Beautiful" to more unusual fare like country and western songs like Buck Owens' "Cryin' Time" and Merle Kilgore's "More and More," as well as "A Blossom Fell" (a hit for Nat King Cole). Johnsrud deftly utilizes the strengths of her backing musicians - mixing and matching among keyboardist Matt Nelson, guitarist Ari Seder, vibraphonist Chris Graham and flautist Matt Cashdollar - along with double bassist Cory Biggerstaff and drummer Darren Scorza. The singer shares the spotlight with her instrumental soloists while creating the appropriate focus on her sophisticated yet natural delivery. Graham shines on the opening track - a clever merger of Miles Davis' "All Blues" with Cole Porter's "Anything Goes," while Cashdollar and Nelson are featured to good effect on "The Old Country." "But Beautiful" is a lovely duet with guitarist Seder that showcases Johnsrud's mixture on clear tone and emotion, while "More and More" is a delightfully funked up R&B number. Perhaps my favorite portion of the album includes the swinging straight-ahead version of Chicagoan Curtis R. Lewis' overlooked song, "The Great City" and a brilliant version of Paul Bowles (yes, of The Sheltering Skyfame) and Tennessee Williams (yes, the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'splaywright)'s American Art Song "Cabin." Arranged by Nelson, this short slice of life lieder song is extended into near epic proportions to form the somewhat romantic/somewhat unsettling centerpiece of the album. Biggerstaff takes a nice solo turn and percussionist Ogie adds tasty congas, before the heralded Nelson performs his magic. Johnsrud's world-weary vocals fit the song perfectly - a true highlight. Nice to hear the bluesy organ and guitar version of "A Blossom Fell" as well. A very nice debut from a singer with an appealing combination of talent and taste. Can't wait to hear more from her as her career progresses. - Brad Walseth - JazzChicago.net


Chicago-based singer, Keri Johnsrud has a unique and appealing voice. Sweet, clear and understated, but the girl can tinge it with blue more naturally than many of the female vocalist trying for that vein. In addition, she has eclectic and fascinating taste – with the songs on her debut album ranging from well-known and lesser-known standards like Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," Harold Arlen's "For Every Man There's a Woman," Nat Adderley and Curtis R. Lewis' "(The Old Man From) The Old Country" and Burke/Van Huesen's "But Beautiful" to more unusual fare like country and western songs like Buck Owens' "Cryin' Time" and Merle Kilgore's "More and More," as well as "A Blossom Fell" (a hit for Nat King Cole). Johnsrud deftly utilizes the strengths of her backing musicians - mixing and matching among keyboardist Matt Nelson, guitarist Ari Seder, vibraphonist Chris Graham and flautist Matt Cashdollar - along with double bassist Cory Biggerstaff and drummer Darren Scorza. The singer shares the spotlight with her instrumental soloists while creating the appropriate focus on her sophisticated yet natural delivery. Graham shines on the opening track - a clever merger of Miles Davis' "All Blues" with Cole Porter's "Anything Goes," while Cashdollar and Nelson are featured to good effect on "The Old Country." "But Beautiful" is a lovely duet with guitarist Seder that showcases Johnsrud's mixture on clear tone and emotion, while "More and More" is a delightfully funked up R&B number. Perhaps my favorite portion of the album includes the swinging straight-ahead version of Chicagoan Curtis R. Lewis' overlooked song, "The Great City" and a brilliant version of Paul Bowles (yes, of The Sheltering Skyfame) and Tennessee Williams (yes, the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'splaywright)'s American Art Song "Cabin." Arranged by Nelson, this short slice of life lieder song is extended into near epic proportions to form the somewhat romantic/somewhat unsettling centerpiece of the album. Biggerstaff takes a nice solo turn and percussionist Ogie adds tasty congas, before the heralded Nelson performs his magic. Johnsrud's world-weary vocals fit the song perfectly - a true highlight. Nice to hear the bluesy organ and guitar version of "A Blossom Fell" as well. A very nice debut from a singer with an appealing combination of talent and taste. Can't wait to hear more from her as her career progresses. - Brad Walseth - JazzChicago.net


Chicago-based Keri Johnsrud opens her debut CD with something novel, yet it’s no novelty. She seamlessly sings Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” to the beautiful and distinctive melody of Miles Davis’s “All Blues.” The melding works wonderfully, as does Johnsrud’s cool and casual delivery throughout this project.

The CD also includes her reworking of Nat Adderley’s “The Old Country,” Buck Owens’ country classic “Cryin’ Time,” and a range of American Songbook material and more. The seven players supporting her in a range of groupings are excellent with great empathy throughout. You’ll enjoy the standout soloing by Matt Nelson on piano, keyboard and organ, flutist Matt Cashdollar and guitarist Ari Seder on various tracks. Johnsrud’s duet version of “But Beautiful” with Seder is just that. A low-key, laid-back beauty. - Ken Franckling’s Jazz Notes


Chicago-based Keri Johnsrud opens her debut CD with something novel, yet it’s no novelty. She seamlessly sings Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” to the beautiful and distinctive melody of Miles Davis’s “All Blues.” The melding works wonderfully, as does Johnsrud’s cool and casual delivery throughout this project.

The CD also includes her reworking of Nat Adderley’s “The Old Country,” Buck Owens’ country classic “Cryin’ Time,” and a range of American Songbook material and more. The seven players supporting her in a range of groupings are excellent with great empathy throughout. You’ll enjoy the standout soloing by Matt Nelson on piano, keyboard and organ, flutist Matt Cashdollar and guitarist Ari Seder on various tracks. Johnsrud’s duet version of “But Beautiful” with Seder is just that. A low-key, laid-back beauty. - Ken Franckling’s Jazz Notes


Discography

Keri Johnsrud & Kevin Bales - Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers (2018)

Keri Johnsrud - This Side of Morning (2015)

Keri Johnsrud - All Blue (2009)

Featured Vocals:
Shawn Maxwell - Bridge (EP)

Shawn Maxwell - Shawn Maxwell's Alliance

Guy King - Livin' It

Gary Filip - Pure and Simple

Phil Fernandez - pH Factor

Photos

Bio

"Keri Johnsrud is largely about finding the unexpected in the familiar. The bright shimmer of her voice, a crystalline instrument of deceptive simple beauty, defies the depth of her artistry."JazzTimes
"Johnsrud never sells any line short, and her commitment wins you over—as does the sheer suppleness and sweetness of her singing. She remains self-confidently sangfroid—there’s no tail-wagging appeal for your approval—which is probably why she secures it."New City

Keri Johnsrud is a fresh and appealing jazz singer with a quietly expressive voice and a deep understanding of lyric interpretation. She is an important member of the jazz community with over 15 years of headlining appearances at some of the nation’s top venues, including Chicago’s historic Green Mill Cocktail Lounge and the Jazz Showcase, The Kitano and Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City, and Churchill Grounds and Velvet Note in Atlanta. Keri regularly tours the US with her own group and also lends her voice to several Chicago ensembles, including the critically acclaimed Shawn Maxwell’s Alliance.

Johnsrud is not only a skilled interpreter of the American Songbook, she is also a talented lyricist and composer. Her highly regarded 2015 recording, “This Side of Morning,” consists entirely of her original tunes and was featured in the independent film “Thank You a Lot.”

For her latest record, Keri collaborated with GRAMMY nominated pianist Kevin Bales to release Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers, which has been selected as a Top 10 Jazz Album of 2018 by Cadence Magazine, All About Jazz, WDCB 90.9, and included in the NPR Jazz Critics Poll. Johnsrud and Bales have succeeded in reimagining and rearranging the music that has been heard by numerous generations on the beloved children’s television program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The songs, which up until now were specifically tailored for a child’s ear, are now presented as reinvented gems that are wise and wistful, simple but not simplistic, and even, in some cases, a bit sultry. In this collection, Mister Rogers’ songs not only relate to adults; they seem to have been written for adults in the first place.

Keri is an experienced music educator in both vocal and piano private instruction, and a faculty member at the Shell Lake Arts Center in Shell Lake, WI.


PUBLICITY 
Novo Management & Publicity
August Forte
august@novo.net

PUBLICITY - NATIONAL 

Lydia Liebman Productions
Lydia Liebman
lydialiebmanjazz@gmail.com

Band Members