Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)
“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.
Authenticates and Livens Up the Usual Christmas Fare – Examiner.com
Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) uses beats of poetry and her own Jewish heritage to authenticate and liven up the usual standard Christmas fare, in her fifth, self-produced album, “Christmas Time Is Here (and Chanukah and The Solstice).” Poetry in her rapping, jazz soul, and the showmanship in her pop-rock nature are organic manifestations of this artist’s progression…
Her Christmas album takes on a few traditional songs normally on replay around the holidays, such as Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson’s “Christmas Time Is Here,” and Sammy Cahn’s and Jule Styne’s “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!” She handles these with an exuberant, confident flair, always keeping the musical jazz notes happening.
She includes the unexpected, in “My Favorite Things,” an Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers’ masterpiece from The Sound Of Music, adding an especially straight-ahead jazz instrumental finesse fading toward the end. And then she works in the moving, orchestral Jewish hymn, “Hine Ma Tov,” which adds the necessary glean of spiritual grounding to the atmospheric, message-centered album. She was able to add a new translation to the traditional lyrics.
It’s when Lisa B attempts to incorporate her poetry and rap rhythms to the jazz, R&B, and Sting-esque beats of her and Jim Gardiner’s three original compositions that her daring bravado shows brightly…“Holiday In Oakland,” “The Flame,” and “Winter Solstice”…
… the nod to her current residence… “Holiday in Oakland”… is an effortless, breezy sweep through the decidedly R&B-gospel influences of that tough but tender city. In the song, her rap is flawless, and unobtrusive, because the “Bump City” references blend evenly, like redwoods, salsa in the dark, Tower of Power, the Pointer Sisters, and Digital Underground.
- Carol Banks Weber, jazz critic, Examiner.com
An Ambitious Undertaking Covering Three Winter Holidays -- You Can’t Help But Be Drawn In – Girlsingers.org
“An ambitious undertaking – covering three of the winter holidays – this one opens with the Vince Guaraldi/Lee Mendelson “Peanuts” offering – “Christmas Time Is Here,” and follows with the traditional “Hine Ma Tov,” a hymn for Shabbat (Sabbath) feasts.
Three originals are “Holiday in Oakland,” a pleasantly gospel-tinged celebration of the Bay Area; “The Flame,” which reminds us that, in Ms. Bernstein’s words [from her notes on the songs], “…being aware of others’ suffering—and our own—is painful, but the pain dissipates when we find the golden flame within ourselves, and take some action to help our communities.” The spoken word “Winter Solstice” is the third original.
The range is from the super-traditional to music-backed poetry… Don’t like a particular piece? That’s okay, stick around. Coming up will be something you’ll love.
I’ve cherry-picked my favorites from this disc for holiday listening (“Christmas Time Is Here,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” and the Sammy Cahn classic “Let It Snow.”) But there’s something here for everyone, and Ms. Bernstein’s energy is so palpable – you can’t help but be drawn in.
This disc is highly recommended.” – Doug Boynton, Girlsingers.org
Eclectic, Fun and Highly Entertaining Holiday Release – @Critical Jazz blog and Courier-journal.com
"Lisa B helps you cover a great deal of seasonal ground in this eclectic, fun and highly entertaining release.
The same basic principle applies for most people when purchasing Christmas music: Do you know the tunes and are the arrangements good? Lisa B scores well here… From a swinging jazz trio to more orchestrated versions of both Christmas classics and Jewish music, the recording is well paced and evolves well.
A rather hip twist for Christmas music would certainly be the three original tunes that showcase her unique talent of rapped poetry… Lisa B brings it from a traditional yet highly organic place that makes for an entertaining take on Christmas music sure to please a wider audience, if not a house full of friends!
If you are looking for some new Christmas music to cover a pretty broad spectrum of seasonal taste, then Lisa B’s artistic spin on the holidays should be right up your alley!" - Brent Black
Mark Saleski on "The Poetry of Groove" – Blogcritics.com
"...spoken word beautifully sung excursions...in a bunch of snazzy grooves from hip-hop to slinky jazzification. (READ ALL:)
I've always been attracted to...'non-standard' listening...Lene Lovich, Kate Bush, Yoko Ono, The Roches, Meredith Monk, and Bjork. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy 'regular' singers...The only problem here...is that sometimes the humanity and emotion can get masked by the perceived strangeness of the presentation. I had this problem when I first heard Kate Bush...but was won over after a single listen...
With Lisa B (that would be Bernstein), there was never any doubt. I was hooked when I first heard what she did with 'What's New, Pussycat?.' Yes, Bacharach and David wrote it, and Tom Jones took off with it, but Lisa B put a very cool spin on it.
On 'The Poetry Of Groove,' Lisa B takes her spoken word beautifully sung excursions and wraps them up in a bunch of snazzy grooves that vary from hip-hop to slinky jazzification. On the spiritually uplifting 'Get The Signal,' the grooves are built from a sparse outline (thanks to what sounds like a kalimba) into something more earthy and insistent. The title track's hopeful message ('...It's the things you crave that fill you with singing...') is set up with a slow burn that opens up with the addition of strings, backing vocals, and piano & funk guitar accents. On 'Trane's Ride (Naima) (Remastered),' Bernstein delivers some very evocative poetry over a hip-hop mashup of the Coltrane classic.
All is not serious here though, as "Virtual Kiss (Remix)" jokes about dissatisfaction with a life of office work. Wait...maybe that's not so funny! Even so, I did laugh at the line "Did I go to college for this?" On this track Lisa B also adds some terrific backing vocals with slightly off-kilter harmonies. Maybe they're not as off-kilter as the idea of spending an entire working life in a cubicle.
Oh, did I mention that Lisa B can bring the sexy? "Turning It Around (Remix)" is carried by a sultry groove that kicks in after the breathy opening of "Turn around....just like that...ahhhh..." A peach is then used as a metapho.....uhhhh, what were we talking about?
In a world that pretty much drips of fresh cynicism, music such as that found on The Poetry Of Groove becomes all the more important..."
I Hear Sparks column on "The Poetry of Groove" by Jordan Richardson – Blogcritics.com
“Funky, fresh and sexy as all hell, Lisa B’s ‘The Poetry of Groove’ is an impressive collection of remixes and new pieces.
The beauty of what Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) does is wrapped up in her seamless blending of jazz, hip-hop, soul, spoken word and popular music. Her approach to her craft is invigorating, cementing herself as an artist excited to take risks and make moves that other artists might stray from. Lisa B makes the blend work, oozing sexuality and clever cool without coming across as pompous or tacky...
Bolstered by her pedigree as a poet, Lisa B’s command of lyricism is manifest with each piece. She is, after all, the author of two books of poetry (‘Anorexia’ and ‘The Transparent Body’) and it shows in her approach to songwriting. Lisa B paints pictures with her command of language, going beyond uncomplicated metaphors to tell entire stories with her art.
The title track is given the privilege of three separate mixes, forming the foundation for the record with its smooth grooves and slick beats. The ‘Jazzy Chill Mix’ starts the record off with polished beats and Lisa B’s spoken word vocals. She’s alluring, venturing through various tones and moods throughout the course of the song. The ‘Edit of Jazzy Chill Mix’ closes the record in similar fashion, while the ‘House Mix’ packs in a danceable beat.
‘Be Electric (Electronica Remix)’ is a sophisticated, sleek cut that makes great use out of Lisa’s hushed, breathy tones and funky witticisms.
The remastered ‘Trane’s Ride (Naima)’ is my favourite song on the record. It uses Coltrane’s piece to underline Lisa’s deeply seductive lyrics, creating fiery waves of sensuality and sexiness. The beat, provided by James Richard’s drum and bass programming, pulsates and vibrates in time to Lisa’s hot vocal performance.
Other cuts, like ‘Get the Signal’ and ‘Virtual Kiss,’ allow Lisa to do more singing. She shows off her jazz pipes, gracefully dancing through various tones and moods with delight and style.
All in all, ‘The Poetry of Groove’ is a sexy and exciting collection of tunes from one of the most daring and deft performers I’ve come across in a while.”
As Sexy As You Can Sound without Being a 70s Diva – Midwest Record
Three years ago, B established herself as our fave Catwoman since Julie Newmar and now we find her moving back to her writer self and bringing her poetry slam side to the fore.
Much more Jill Scott than Rod McKuen, B continues to ride the progressive tip with a creative abandon that makes it seem easy to break convention and get away with it. As sexy as you can sound without being a ...70s diva.” - Chris Spector
"This is the sure-bet holiday music that should be playing in hipper households over the next few months. Tasty throughout...
Familiar and welcome versions of the classics... some interesting choices that convey her sense of the holidays as well as let her serious side shine brightly... tossing some originals in the mix as well."
Michael E. Ross of Culchavox.blogspot.com – Amazon.com
“...Lisa's signature alto, by turns smoky and lapidary, awakens us to her spiritual travels with infectious rhythms and witticisms that are seductively inviting. (READ ALL:)
…on ‘The Poetry of Groove,’… Lisa's signature alto, by turns smoky and lapidary, awakens us to her spiritual travels with infectious rhythms and witticisms that are seductively inviting… She brings a refreshingly maverick cadence to the spoken-word experience.
In ‘The Poetry of Groove’ and ‘Get the Signal,’ Lisa explores the record's central themes: a call to spiritualism and more reliance on our deeper, more humanistic inclinations. But this ain't no lecture: Lisa brings the musical passion behind her spiritual manifesto… with her love of jazz, Latin rhythm and hip-hop's lyric sensibilities.
The remix of ‘Virtual Kiss’ [has]… nothing missing in terms of its nervous, thoroughly modern dissonance. Hearing it today, more than 10 years after the first version, Lisa's lyrics ring eerily prophetic; this clever take on the persistence of technology and how the ways of the heart struggle to rise in a digital, cubicled world has more pertinence now than it did a dozen years ago.
Lisa's inclusion of a remastered version of ‘Night and Day’ (from ‘What's New, Pussycat?’) may be the best distillation of where she's at as a singer and, more basically, as an evolving artist. This combination of a faithful vocal reading of the Cole Porter classic with her own feline-inspired poetic interpolation remains a reminder of what makes her so fiercely original.
…the jazzy-chill edit of the title track, which closes the album…[w]ith its lush string accents and a deft balance of vocal and instrumental prowess… shapes up as the perfect closing statement… on an album that capably and joyously brings the talents of a true musical iconoclast front and center again.”
"What's New, Pussycat?" in All Music Guide – All Music Guide
"...musically and vocally, this 2006 release has a lot going for it… Bernstein uses the word cat as a metaphor — as hipster/beatnik/bebop slang — and she is really singing about human situations on jazzy, playful originals like 'Crazy Cat,' 'Slay Me (My Young Cat)' and the salsa-flavored 'Cha Cha de la Gata (Kitty-Cat Cha)'… from Bernstein´s own material to an intriguing arrangement of Graham Nash´s 'Our House,' 'What's New, Pussycat?' is infectious more often than not…on this generally memorable and clever CD."
"Center of the Rhyme" in Phildadelphia Daily News – Philadelphia Daily News
"Daring, dexterous singer/songwriter/poet Lisa B catches the 'Center of the Rhyme' (Piece of Pie), an imaginative set of originals with appeal to both traditional and contemporary jazz tastes and even, on occasion, hip-hop hipsters."
"Center of the Rhyme" in Jazz Times – Jazz Times
" 'Center of the Rhyme' reveals a singer, spoken-word artist and poet with an incisive way of chronicling situations, memories and emotions. She sings with a pliable, expressive voice dipped in blue... B intercuts her smooth rendition of Bobby Caldwell's 'What You Won't Do for Love' with a rap, and turns saucily suggestive on 'Keeps Me Up All Night.' She sets her urgent poetic lyrics against a violin-driven, electro-fusion background on 'Be Electric,' and a spacious musical bed, highlighted by romantic saxophone, swirls around her imagistic vocals on the title track."
Jazz & Blues Co. booker – Jazz & Blues Co., Carmel, Calif.
"She totally captivated the audience. She is an originator, her arrangements are mesmerizing, and her band is great!"
Frances Mayes in S.J. Mercury on "The Transparent Body" – San Jose Mercury News
"…Whatever she knows or sings comes, in Whitman´s term, from the body electric."
Paradise Lounge booker, S.F., Calif. – Paradise Lounge booker
"Obviously you´re a gigantic talent…you totally controlled the room."