Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

 Oakland, California, USA
BandJazzSpoken Word

“Lisa B's mix of spoken word poetry and passionate jazzy, high-register vocalizing is hard to resist.” - All Music Guide. "Funky, fresh, and sexy as all hell - seamless blending of jazz, hip-hop, soul, spoken word and popular music." - Blogcritics. Lisa B also draws on her background as a literary poet for the rare pure-poetry reading.

Biography

THE UNIQUE SINGER AND POET LISA B (Lisa Bernstein) melds compelling jazz and jazz-soul vocals with vivid poetic spoken word, in songs also flavored with pop and world elements.

Her influences span Gil Scott-Heron and the Great American Songbook, Carmen McRae and Aretha, Joni MItchell and John Coltrane, Emily Dickinson and Pablo Neruda, the Beat poets and neo-soul...

Lisa B is now working on her 6th album "Cole Porter Reimagined," inventive and moving versions of the great Porter's classics.

Her FIVE CDs HAVE GOTTEN AIRPLAY INCLUDING CHARTING and heavy rotation on 350+ trade-reporter stations.

Lisa B typically performs with a trio, with either Ben Flint or Frank Martin on keyboards, Fred Randolph or Peter Barshay on upright bass, and Alan Hall or Akira Tana on drums (whose collective credits include Claudio Roditi, Chris Connor, Art Farmer, Isaac Hayes, George Benson, Mary Stallings, Whitney Houston, Steve Winwood, Sting, and Manhattan Transfer). Lisa often augments her trio with a percussionist. She also performs solo with recorded tracks or in pure poetry readings.

Lisa B was interviewed and featured by the Bay Area's KTVU News to millions of viewers on Christmas Day 2013 highlighting her original song "Holiday in Oakland" and the viral response to it.

"She totally captivated the audience. She is an originator, her arrangements are mesmerizing, and her band is great!" - Gary Hamada, Jazz and Blues Company/KRML-FM, Concert Manager

"Fresh, very interesting, impressive: Lisa B is a brand-new Somebody. And the writing... I was lifted up... gorgeous."  Jackie McLean, saxophone legend

"Lisa Bernstein's mix of spoken word poetry...and passionate jazzy, high-register vocalizing is hard to resist." - All Music Guide

"Great pipes... talented songwriter." - Jazziz

“A singer, spoken-word artist and poet with an incisive way of chronicling situations, memories, and emotions… a pliable, expressive voice dipped in blue… saucily suggestive… imagistic…” Jazz Times

"Her voice is a lovely instrument, her timbre warm, her phrasing fluid...an emotional range that makes lyrics sound like truth." - jazz critic Ted Panken

"Daring, dexterous singer/songwriter/poet Lisa B...with appeal to both traditional and contemporary jazz tastes and even hip-hop hipsters." -  Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News

“Vibrant, diverse... courageous… an energy that is enchanting.” - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) was raised in New York and Northern California in a book- and music-filled home, inspired by jazz, soul, pop, rock, and show tunes. She studied classical piano from elementary school to high school, also writing poetry. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in creative writing/literature.

TWO BOOKS OF HER POETRY have been published, the chapbook "Anorexia" (Five Fingers Poetry) and "The Transparent Body" (Wesleyan University Press). Her poems have appeared in more than 50 literary magazines and anthologies. She has received grants and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund/Money for Women, and Puffin Foundation.

Lisa B's many public poetry readings in the San Francisco Bay Area evolved into performances, including a sold-out piece at the leading experimental theatre The Lab. Lisa B then began to focus on songwriting, singing, and music, studying first at the Blue Bear School of Music, then with renowned Bay Area vocal coach Jane Sharp. Lisa was soon gigging frequently, performing jazz and selected pop standards along with her own compositions.

SHE HAS SINCE PERFORMED AT MORE THAN 80 clubs, performance spaces, colleges, bookstores, and radio stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York.

While often composing lyrics and music on her own, Lisa B enjoys co-writing with musicians including singer-pianist Barbara Higbie (Windham Hill, women's music); Latin jazz trombonist-arranger Wayne Wallace (Patois Records); and her longtime cowriter/producer/engineer Jim (James) Gardiner (his credits include Deniece Williams, Digital Underground, En Vogue, E-40, John Lee Hooker Jr., Pharoah Sanders, Rickie Lee Jones, David Grisman, Seattle Symphony).

Lyrics

The Poetry of Groove

Written By: words by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein),music by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) & Jim Gardiner, music by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) & Jim Gardiner

THE POETRY OF GROOVE
copyright 2009 Lisa Bernstein and Jim Gardiner

verses 1 and 2:
I walked down the street,
I was one into two.
I split like a faultline,
I split into you.
My mind closed in
like a girl in the dark
and my legs sliced the sky
while you chewed on my heart.

I had jumped through another
fiery hoop
of romantic hope,
came out a burning envelope.
The only way to put out
the flames was to weep,
hide in a heap
at home with DVDs.

bridge:
But in the beginning
there were two cells clicking
and so I heard the beat
of a heart still ticking
like the ocean remembering
it makes the waves,
a singer who remembers
she knows the melody,
I remembered how to swim
up through the dark water,
rise to the light
where the sun burns hotter
and kids laugh on the beach –
I remembered how to reach
for what I crave, why I move.
I remembered the poetry of groove.

verse 3:
It’s the things you crave
that fill you with singing.
Electrical sparks in your
brain keep ringing,
saying “I want you, I want it,
I want what I know”
in a stream of mathematics,
a curling undertow.
Behind your mind’s ability
to grip the truth
is a river of desire,
a fountain of youth,
a longing to make, to touch,
to taste something new,
from what you see to why you move –
you remember the poetry of groove.

chorus:
When you go, go with groove
Find the flow, the poetry of groove
(REPEAT)

verse 4:
So what splits you in two
can make you new.
If you can move
through what’s broken to what’s you.
From two back into one,
from sorrow into fun,
when you remember the poetry of groove –
when you remember the poetry of groove.

chorus out
When you go, go with groove
Find the flow, the poetry of groove
REPEAT

Be Electric

Written By: words by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein),music by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) and Jim Gardiner, music by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) and Jim Gardiner

Be Electric
© 2003/2009 Lisa Bernstein and Jim Gardiner

It’s the weakness.

It’s the trigger.

It’s the faultline.

The wire transmitter.
If you want to get in,
if you want to get out

Hot, cold, frozen,
electrical shout. I can't

forget you when you vibrate
my secret name

where I curl inside the underbrush
of cells, and pain

pulses away in the sunlit
flushed communication,

the information highway
deep into my nation

I'm a system, a country,
a place to tell the truth,

a fast hot planet,
a network getting loose

and tight and loose and
tight again

I contract my losses,
expand my wins

Chorus: I'm electric. You're electric. It's the secret.
Be electric. You're electric. Hear the secret.

We rise and rise
into the space we make.

keep pushing through all the
trouble and fakes,

all the other people's faces
and problems and needs

littering my feet
like an oak tree's leaves

as you bore into the sap,
the syrup at the core

and you see your own face
in the mirror at my door

keep looking, brother
keep looking, lover

keep pushing, friend
keep finding, man

Hold me, take me
show me, make me

see your face explode
in the sunrise gold

in the mirror at my throat
and the vault where I hold

onto you.

Chorus, out…

Get the Signal

Written By: words by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein),music by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) and Jim Gardiner, music by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) and Jim Gardiner

Get the Signal
copyright © 2009 Lisa Bernstein (Lisa B) and Jim Gardiner

spoken verse 1:
Remember the stars you saw as a child?
White in the sky, a whoosh of fire
They fell down your throat as black as wine
Sparkling, the stream unwinds
And there you are, smack dab in your life
For an instant you got the signal

spoken chorus:
Get the signal
it speaks to you
Get the signal
it’s receiving you
Get the signal
Get back in the middle
of your magic, your true blue fire
Get the signal

sung chorus:
You
well, you are the drum
And you
are sounding the way
A tone
that starts alone
and soon you hear the singing…

spoken verse 2:
Why don’t you lift your hands from the keys,
the spidery net of the money machine?
Do you really need a bigger screen
to expand the chasms and turn up the screams?
Find some earth, even under the street
Feel it vibrate up through your feet
You need a frequency that hums your name
It’s a signal to your soul that will keep you sane

spoken chorus
sung chorus

bridge:
It’s the green in the green
and the window in the door
The night pushes day
and you say you want more
But the fish tumble down
and the grass dries up
The elephants thirst
and the ground burns up
So up may you rise
like a cattleherd of rain
Come up my loves
push back again

spoken verse 3:
While the world melts we must find a way
to knit back together what’s burning to gray
Let’s imagine together the re-wound weather
the bears of white on miles of arctic ice
Desire the earth’s scorched skin to cool
Poisoners of air and sea overruled
Reach down for her face her spice her sound
It’s a signal like nothing else around
It thrums through the water the air the ground
What you almost lost, you’ve found – it’s the signal

spoken chorus
sung chorus
continue to out…

It’s your signal, the earth’s signal, the sky’s signal, the air’s signal

Your heart’s
signal

Your heart’s
signal

Turning It Around

Written By: words by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein),music by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) and Jim Gardiner, music by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) and Jim Gardiner

Turning It Around
(copyright Lisa B aka Lisa Bernstein)

intro:
Turn around (turn around)
Just like that

Feel me

Turn around (turn around)
Just like that

Turn around (turn around)
Just like that

verse 1:
Holding that peach in both hands while I'm walking down the hall. Turning it around.

Holding that peach, walking past the walls so straight. But I'm turning it around.

Does it sound like I'm happy? Even inside the straight walls, I'm turning it around.

Out loud I'm saying I'm turning it around. Take a turn into my sound.

Have you found that your brain's not straight after all? Have you felt something turning it around?

I've felt that peach just walking down the hall, inside the long straight walk I've found the round.

My body of peaches and my brain of sound just know about turning it around.

Does your body of taffy and your brain getting pulled just know about turning it around?

chorus 1:
I’m calling for you—turn around
I’m falling for you—turn around
(Can’t you feel me?[Just like that])
I’m calling for you—turn around
(Just like that)
I’m falling for you—turn around

verse 2:
I bet someone you know has a perfume in your brain just whirling around.

I bet you know a roll of hips, a click of joints, that's turning you around.

What turns inside when you walk down the hall and the round lightbulb goes on?

What happens in your brain when the bulb goes bright all of a sudden, turning yourself on?

The light rolls up and down into round bright sounds like a peach turning around.

And the perfumed juice of the peach starts to burn through your brain when the sound turns round.

Roll, hips, bulb, light up now, I want to feel the fat peach turn around.

I said, roll, hips, bulb, light up now, I want to feel the peach inside turn around.

chorus 2:
I’m calling for you—turn around
(Just like that)
I’m falling for you—turn around
I’m calling for you—turn around
(Just like that)
I’m falling for you—turn around
(Can’t you feel me?)

verse 3:
I'm waiting for you to turn me around and hold me like peaches in the hall.

I'm waiting for you to drink me like the juice from a tree full of peaches ’bout to fall.

I'm calling for you to turn your life around from the long lonely hall without a sound.

Let the sound of peaches falling be the love that lights your brain when you hear me call.

Turn around and feel the warm peach flesh fall down—fall around you

I'm falling for you

Turn around.

chorus 3:
I’m calling for you—turn around
(Just like that)
I’m falling for you—turn around
(Can’t you feel me?)
I’m calling for you—turn around
(Just like that) (Mmmm...)
I’m falling for you—turn around
(Can’t you feel me?) (Mmm...)
I’m calling for you—turn around
Turn around and feel the warm peach turn around. (Right there)
I’m falling for you—turn around
Turn around and feel the warm sweet touch come down, turn around.
I’m calling for you—turn around
Turn around and feel the warm peach turn around.
I’m falling for you—turn around
Turn around and feel the warm sweet touch come down, turn around.
I’m calling for you—turn around
Turn around and feel the warm peach turn around.
I’m falling for you—turn around

Discography

* CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE (AND CHANUKAH AND THE SOLSTICE) (2011) 
* THE POETRY OF GROOVE (2009) 
* WHAT'S NEW, PUSSYCAT?: TUNES & TALES ABOUT COOL CATS (2006) 
* CENTER OF THE RHYME (2003) 
* FREE ME FOR THE JOY (1999) 

Set List

Lisa B has performed in clubs, universities, festivals, performance spaces, and bookstores. She can do one to four 40-minute sets. Set lists include her original songs along with many jazz and soul standards.

Lisa is now booking her new show, "Cole Porter Reimagined," featuring inventive versions of Porter classics.

For holiday shows, Lisa draws on the material from her CD "Christmas Time Is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice)." 

Lisa B also offers workshops on writing poetry, spoken word, and poetic rap and integrating these genres with music. She has an M.A. in creative writing and teaching experience spanning elementary-school ages to university level.