Lauren  Hooker
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Lauren Hooker


Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter


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Lauren Hooker shows off her multi-faceted talent in this, her debut CD. Teaming up with Allen Farnham
(piano), Rufus Reid (bass) and Tim Horner (drums and percussion), Hooker runs through a selection of jazz standards and originals.
Her originals break down into two types: original lyrics for instrumental standards and new pieces. The
former included here are by Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Mal Waldron, Wayne Shorter and
Fats Waller. Her lyrical take on Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” (“You Needn’t Call Me”) plays with time the
way Monk did and her lyric and breakneck speed on “Lovebug Jitters” (“Jitterbug Waltz”) would have made Waller chuckle with delight. Hooker’s originals
are straightforward and melodic.
Her rendition of Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” really swings and should garner some good airplay. She also segues from Koehler- Arlen’s “Ill Wind” to Ellington’s “Creole Love Call”,
an interesting but musically fitting combination. Farnham offers some outstanding moments throughout the CD; listen for his work on “Lovebug Jitters”. Reid contributes wonderfully conversational solos on the title track and also on “Goodbye Pork Pie”. Horner’s drumming is right on. Hooker possesses a voice of many shades and uses them well. Her low notes are reminiscent of Sarah Vaughan’s bottom range, though not as full-bodied, and sometimes there’s a hint of Dinah Washington’s energy. But her sound and style are unique and she
makes excellent use of them.
For more information, visit Hooker is at
Enzo’s Jazz Jan. 11th. See calendar.



Lauren Hooker grew up around music. She had piano lessons when she was four, sang as a teen-
ager, and has said that she aims for “Sarah Vaughan’s range, Ella’s scat, Miles Davis’ tone and Coltrane’s
intention.” Those are worthy if unattainable goals but Ms. Hooker has developed into a fairly distinc-
tive singer, a skilled scatter and a talented lyricist and songwriter.
All of those qualities are in evidence throughout Right Where I Belong. Joined by a top-notch rhythm
section, Lauren Hooker performs 13 songs including six jazz standards that feature her lyrics and four
originals in which she contributed both words and music. The only songs that do not have her lyrics are
a cooking version of “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” which is an excellent feature for her very original scatting, and a medley of “Ill Wind”
and a wordless “Creole Love Call.” Particularly intriguing are her additional stanzas to “Sometimes
I Feel Like A Motherless Child”
(which is taken at a faster-than-usual tempo) and Thelonious Monk’s
“Well You Needn’t,” which, like “Footprints” and “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” have been given new lyrics
that differ quite a bit from the more familiar words. Pianist Allen Farnham and bassist Rufus Reid get plenty of concise solos, and drummer Tim Horner helps keep the music swinging while keeping the
main focus on the singer. Ms. Hooker does not have an overly colorful voice although she is always in-
tune. Her conversational style is fine on the slowematerial but she is at her best on blazing tempos. She
takes Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” very fast and races through her lyrics (which sound like vocalese though they aren’t) with little effort. Of her originals, “Time And Space” is the most memorable and has the best chance of catching on. Other highlights include a bluesy interpretation of “Ill Wind,” her lyr-
ics to Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and a display of her range on “Creole Love Call.” Since she has been active in jazz as a performer
and an educator since the late 1980s, it is surprising that Right Where I Belong is Lauren Hooker’s recording debut as a leader. Overall it is an impressive effort, and a fine starting point for Lauren Hooker’s recording career.
- Scott Yanow


Plenty of jazz artists grow up with Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and their iconic brethren, but Lauren Hooker is one of the few who can claim to have done so literally. She is the daughter of celebrated musician and conductor Louis Hooker. She studied music education at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where her dad headed the Fine Arts Department. Her postgrad work included jazz theory with Kenny Barron at Rutgers and jazz voice with Sheila Jordan at the Manhattan School of Music. Nearly two decades ago, she set lyrics to Mal Waldron’s “Seagulls of Kristiansund” and recorded them with Waldron himself.

Since then, she created the multimedia installation “Jazz Expressions”, appeared on a spectrum of arts-related TV shows and guested on more than a dozen other performer’s albums. Now, after what must surely rank as one of the longest and most intense preparatory periods in jazz history, Hooker has finally made her own album-length debut. Hooker’s vocal stylizing, with its clarion tone, crisp phrasing (reminiscent of both Nancy Wilson and Shirley Horn) and blues-accented undercurrent, is undeniably impressive, and her covers of “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To”, “Ill Wind” and “Creole Love Call” are certainly imaginative.

But Hooker’s greatest strengths lie on the other side of the mic. As craftswoman of original tunes – the bright and breezy “The Eyes of Chaz” (written for her infant son), the long-distance love lament “The Other Side of the Sun”, the clever “Time and Space”, a peppy dissection of a romance that’s physically fulfilling but emotionally vacant, and “No Goodbyes”, the deceptively simple tale of a too-long bruised and battered heart- she can hold her own against pretty much any singer-songwriter in the business.

Hooker’s ability to add lyrics to instrumental classics- the aforementioned “Seagulls”,
“Goodbye Pork Pie” (an autobiographical sketch fitted to Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” reinvented as the feisty “You Needn’t Call Me”, Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” shaped into the heartbreaking “Footprints On My Soul” (which Hooker originally wrote for Sheila Jordan) and Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltsz” revved into the breakneck merry-go-round of “Lovebug Jitters”- is flat out masterful.
- Christopher Loudon


Lauren Hooker’s newest entry into the world of jazz is far from mediocre. Powerful in vocals, a positioned flow of acute arrangements, and a vast array of fine selections sets the stage for a highly seasoned musical performance! Musical Legends' release, Right Where I Belong, has numerous attitudes, however, none more profound than that of a sultry soul. Her talent is best described with the numerous cuts in which Hooker bleeds her bondage into each and every ballad. Feelings are invoked when Hooker lets loose her vocals…giving the listener a sense of much more than just notes on a scale. The impact on most cuts is strong with a high fever pitch. Her soul is her sound! That, my fellow jazz enthusiast, is the main ingredient to the craft itself. “Seagulls,” by Mal Waldron, is such a wonderful piece. It articulates a story with music. Hooker, taking this Waldron instrumental and adding her lyrics, cements herself as a ‘multi-talent’ in this genre. Many have been quoted as labeling Hooker “a full circle musician.” If any piece of Hooker’s work substantiates this statement, it would be “Seagulls.” A heartfelt piece is shown by Hooker’s own creation, “No Goodbyes.” One becomes enveloped in the strong jazz piece, exhibiting the warmth of every broken heart ever torn. Lyrics are simple, yet in the purist form, addressing the love that was lost without a trace. The arrangement adds to the deep sorrow. An embraceable ballad for those nights when one reminisces…and falls once more into the arms of the lost! Hooker is where she needs to be. In other words, “Right Where She Belongs.” This experience can only offer us hopes of more expressive and diverse journeys with Ms. Hooker. Add to your collection only in hopes for another addition soon.

- Karl Stober

"All About Jazz LA"

Here's a vocalist that is going to knock you off your chair. Newcomer Lauren Hooker, on what is essentially her debut recording, hits a double off the wall on this gratifyingly creative disc consisting of standards, originals, and refashioned jazz classics. Her voice - rich, confident and assured - is like Dianne Reeves, pitch perfect. Hooker's timing and sense of swing is absolutely impeccable, and she can take a lyric and mold it like clay. Putting her own lyrics to the likes of "Jitterbug Waltz" ("Lovebug Jitters") and "Footprints" ("Footprints On My Soul"), she gives the well known melodies a fresh twist of lime. Her pitch, as evidenced on Duke Ellington's searing "Creole Love Call," will give you goose bumps. Her own compositions, like "No Goodbyes" are perfectly suited jazz vehicles, and deserve to be appreciated on their own musical basis. The band, lead by master bassist Rufus Reid, is simply impeccable, and flies through these songs like a javelin. Swoop up Right Where I Belong, and look for this New Jersey lady when she comes to town; it's sure to be an event.
- George Harris

"International Association of Jazz Record Collectors"

It took this talented vocalist, composer, lyricist and yes even a darn good pianist a long time to come forth with her debut recording but here it is and it was well worth the wait. A bit of background on this person is in order. She has been a professional musician now since a teenager. I have no idea of her age and would never ask a lady that question in the first place. But I would venture a guess she has been on the scene for a number of years. A recording was made with Mal Waldron back in the 1980’s but never was issued. I wish someone would issue it. Her education is long and varied and can easily be found on her website but will mention only two places, Manhattan School of Music and Rugters University. She has had much professional training but despite that she comes across as a very free spirit. Now to the recording at hand. So many records start off with what I would consider their best effort in order to immediately catch your intention. I do not find that here. This music just seems to build and build. She has the command of nearly a 4 octave voice. Yet you wouldn’t even get a hint of that from the first track but believe me by the time you get to “Creole Love Call” (my favorite by the way) you know it well. The tune list above shows one song title and then another in brackets. Well, she wrote lyrics to some of these songs and alternate lyrics to others. No gimmicks here at all. The truth is they would make good poetry in their own right. The lyrics as well as her sharing some thoughts about each song are printed in the booklet. I found this to be very interesting and wish other artists would do the same. She does play piano on one tune, “Seagulls" (Seagulls of Kristiansund by Mal Waldron). The other musicians are to be commended. Rufus Reid is a well known bassist and his work here again is super. The same can be said of Mr. Farnham and Mr. Horner. They just know what to put down. All three give her all the support in the world. This is not just another vocalist backed by a trio. It is difficult to verbalize just how unusual this CD is. She is a very mature artist. She has talent and good taste. She just comes across as so honest and genuine. One wishes that he or she would know her personally as her music is so intimate. Well recommended.
- Herb Young

"New Jersey Jazz Society"

Vocalist LAUREN HOOKER is another presence on the New Jersey scene. She was reared here, graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a degree in Music Education, and has had a New Jersey-based career as a performer and music educator that has garnered her much critical acclaim, and an enthusiastic fan base. "Right Where I Belong"
(Musical legends – No Catalog #) is a hip initial recording from a very musical and creative lady, who complements her talents with the good sense to call upon the likes of pianist Allen Farnham, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Tim Horner for musical support. Most of the program is comprised of completely original pieces by Hooker or jazz tunes to which she has added her own lyrics. It is rare that a first album consisting of primarily original material grabs me upon a first hearing, but this one immediately felt like an old friend. Many performers like Hooker, who grew up at a time when rock and related styles of music were predominant, seem lyrically influenced by the style of the singer-songwriters who displaced the lyric artistry of giants like Cole Porter, Lorenz Hart, Johnny Mercer, Ira Gershwin, with lyrics that are carelessly penned, full of false rhymes, pseudo-intellectual imagery that reeks of pretension, and overly personal confessional story telling. Hooker finds a happy middle ground between these extremes. Her lyrics borrow from the best of both worlds, and are carefully written, often containing reflections of her personal experiences, but still general enough to avoid making you feel like you are a furtive observer of specific occasions and relationships. Hooker is an adventurous singer, with a fine voice of producing finely shaded readings of her material.This may be her first album, but it is evident that Lauren Hooker is a mature and talented performer who deserved an opportunity to record long before this. ( (NOTE: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this album will be contributed to the Katrina Children’s Relief Fund.

- Joe Lang


There are few musicians with the depth of training that Lauren Hooker has. She is highly respected in the New York music scene not only for her admirable qualities as a jazz vocalist (she is one of the best before audiences today!), but she is also a composer, a creative lyricist, and an innovator in a field of luminaries. On this CD, appropriately named 'Right Where I Belong', Lauren Hooker is finally available to those of us on the West Coast who know her only by reputation. Here she works with Allen Farnham, piano, Rufus Reid, bass, and Tim Horner, drums and percussion - the perfect set of superb musicians that supply all the atmosphere and zest Hooker sets in her styling. She has an incredible vocal range, able to carry her irresistible scat singing into the stratosphere (as in 'You'd be so nice to come to') while at the same time dipping into the contralto range for her special imprints on songs such as 'The other side of the sun'. This is a well balanced album, one that allows us to sample the many aspects of Hooker's talent. She is clearly a force to contend with and it is rewarding to finally have a CD that will bring her to the appreciation of a wider audience. Lauren Hooker is right where she belongs - here!
- Grady Harp


The CD, Right Where I Belong, by Lauren Hooker is a very impressive jazz project, packed with original and classic jazz compositions. Lauren's vocals are in a class by themselves. She flows vocally through different jazz standards as if she lived them herself. Her voice is rich, tasteful and soulful. Lauren brings back the 50's sound with avengence and just plain brilliance. The track, "No Goodbyes", is a composition that propells Lauren in the same class as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. It's a beautiful and pure composition, and it stands above the rest of the original jazz tracks on the album. The lyrics tell a heart-felt story that can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of age. We recommend everyone to listen to the entire album and we can assure you that you won't be able to stop listening to the project. It's an inspiration for any musician or songwriter. Lauren Hooker is here to stay and in our opinion, deserves a Grammy for this project. Pick up a copy today!
- Groov


Lauren Hooker's debut recording as a leader is an impressive affair. She is obviously someone who has paid her dues over the previous two decades as a performer, as demonstrated in her ambitious, wide-ranging choice of material, most of which she arranged as well. Accompanied by a top shelf rhythm section, consisting of pianist Allen Farnham, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Tim Horner, she's equally at home tackling spirituals like "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" (which is retitled "Right Where I Belong" due to her additional lyrics), standards popular during the swing era ("Ill Wind" and a wild, hilarious romp through Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz", for which she contributed lyrics, calling it "Lovebug Jitters." But Hooker's finest performances are revealed in her selection of post-bop material, all of which she wrote lyrics. Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" is transformed from a funeral dirge for Lester Young into a moving autobiographical sketch of a woman and her baby leaving her abusive man. She had previously collaborated with Mal Waldron, writing lyrics for (and recording) his "Seagulls of Kristiansund;" this dramatic rendition features the singer accompanying herself on piano, with Farnham adding a tasteful touch of synthesizer in the background. Hooker's adaptation of Wayne Shorter's modal masterpiece "Footprints" (renamed "Footprints On My Soul"), also packs a powerful punch. Only "You Needn't Call Me" is a disappointment, as her lyrics to Thelonious Monk's "Well, You Needn't" are not the equal of those written by Mike Ferro for Carmen McRae's excellent recording of "It's Over Now," though Farnham and Reid offer dynamite solos. The vocalist also wrote four strong originals, highlighted by the brisk samba "The Eyes of Chaz," which features her playful scat and a variety of percussive effects by Horner. All jazz vocalists should strive to the reach the heights that Lauren Hooker achieves on her very first CD.

- Ken Dryden


"Right Where I Belong" Musical Legends 2007 produced by Rufus Reid and Allen Farnham
with Rufus Reid on the bass, Allen Farnham on piano and Tim Horner on drums. Features jazz standards, her original compositions, and credits that include lyrics written to music by Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, Wayne Shorter, Fats Waller and Mal Waldron.
Selected Barnes & Noble Stores;;;



AWARDED HONORABLE MENTION FROM ALL ABOUT JAZZ' BEST JAZZ CD'S IN 2007. Lauren Hooker is not just a singer. She is a consummate musician. Her unique and special talent was recognized early in life and it has developed into the sophisticated, hip vocalist, composer, lyricist, educator and producer she is today.

Her critically acclaimed CD produced by Rufus Reid and Allen Farnham entitled: "Right Where I Belong" with Rufus Reid on the bass, Allen Farnham on piano and Tim Horner on drums features jazz standards, her original compositions, and credits that include lyrics written to Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, Wayne Shorter, Fats Waller and Mal Waldron. Within the third week of radio airplay, Lauren was at the top of the “chartbound” list of jazz CD’s played across the nation and in Canada according to A featured guest on WKCR's "Jazz Alternatives" 89.9 FM with Host Sharif Abdus Salaam, and WRSU 88.7 FM out of Rutgers University, Lauren's CD continues to receive heavy airplay on both radio and internet stations here and abroad.

Out of a flood of rave reviews, JAZZ TIMES writes, ... undeniably impressive… certainly imaginative… can hold her own against pretty much any singer-songwriter in the business… ability to add lyrics to instrumental classics… is flat-out masterful… and compares her to Nancy Wilson and Shirley Horn; JAZZ IMPROV NY says … a skilled scatter, talented lyricist and songwriter…intriguing, impressive…; ALL ABOUT JAZZ LA states, Here's a vocalist that is going to knock you off your chair… hits a double off the wall… her voice - rich, confident and assured - like Dianne Reeves, pitch perfect and ALL ABOUT JAZZ NY writes, Lauren Hooker's Right Where I Belong is one of the standout vocal releases of this year thus far without a doubt, not to mention a candidate as one of ‘07's strongest debut releases.

She came onto the jazz scene with a degree in Music Education from Fairleigh Dickinson University and continued post-graduate work in jazz theory with pianist Kenny Barron at Rutgers University, jazz voice with Sheila Jordan at Manhattan School of Music and most recently, a jazz vocal workshop with Bobby McFerrin and his "Voicestras" vocal ensemble.

Lauren has been featured in many major venues in the New York metropolitan area including The 55 Bar, Trumpets, The International Women in Jazz Festival at St. Peter's Church in NYC, The Jerzey Jazz Girlz Series at the Barron Art Center and The Summer Jazz Café Series at The Two Rivers Theater in NJ. She has performed and/or recorded with some of the best in the business including Vic Juris, Steve Nelson, Bucky Pizzarelli and Reggie Workman to name a few. One of the highlights of her career occurred when she recorded with the legendary pianist Mal Waldron (Billie Holiday's former pianist), singing her original lyrics set to Mal's composition, "The Seagulls of Kristiansund." Her show, "Jazz Expressions", a multi-media experience combining original music, dance, poetry and photography premiered at New Jersey's Puffin Cultural Forum and she has appeared on a variety of television shows including "Broadway to Business", "For Arts Sake", "Life of the Music" and “Night Owls”.