A few years ago I discovered Nancy King. I don’t remember exactly how it happened but I think someone mentioned her in passing to me. When I finally started listening to her it was a turning point for me in my own performance. Up until that point I had been trying to learn about vocal improvising with moderate success. I was blowing solos at my performances but I was stuck in a conservative rut. I had a lot of trouble taking chances. Then I heard Nancy King Live at Jazz Standard with Fred Hersch.
Both Nancy King and Fred Hersch have an amazing way of building and growing a standard into something unique and new. Together they take so many incredible chances but they always find each other in the end.
When I’m performing I sometimes like to play the game called “If I were what choices would I make?” I pretend to be another singer and the things that come out of my mouth always surprise me. When I started pretending to be Nancy King I finally started to understand exactly how much breathing room I had in a solo. I learned how to take a leap of faith and trust my ears to guide me back home.
This has been in my headphones // 05, a blog feature about albums that have influenced me or are currently influencing me. You can also check out the last post in this series, in my headphones: the miseducation of lauryn hill // 04.