Meet Grace Kelly

No, not the beautiful blonde actress who married into royalty.  (When that Grace Kelly got pregnant, the New York Daily Mirror ran the headline MONACO WEATHER FORECAST:  A LITTLE RAINIER IN FEBRUARY.  Really.)  

This one's different.  Whatever image you have in mind when you think, "jazz saxophonist," she isn't it.

She's a short, skinny little Asian-American fireball with pink (or green, or blue) hair who wears spangles and pink sneakers, moves her hips like Jarvis Cocker, sings like Billie Holiday, and plays saxophone like Grover Washington.  Also like John Coltrane.  Also like Ornette.  She could sit in with a klezmer band too, although then technically it wouldn't be a klezmer band.  (Fun fact:  "klezmer" originally - and by "originally" I mean "in the 1980s" - meant "male professional musician.")

I started watching this video a while back because Adam Neely's videos are usually interesting.  I noticed it was 20 minutes long and just wanted to sample it to see if it would be worth watching later, but I got sucked into it and watched the whole thing, right up to the quarter-second-long inside joke at the end.

Neely is getting so good at videography.  Making videos every week for years will do that.  The editing in this video is masterful.  Its subject is, "here's a gig I played in Annapolis, Maryland," but its content is, "Here's what it's like when professional jazz musicians work together."  The interplay between the band members plotting out the gig and the performance itself is fascinating.

It's also a showcase for this great bandleader who isn't famous yet.

Modern jazz music, since maybe the end of the big band era, has been all about serious-looking men in suits playing their hearts out while standing on a stage.  Pat Metheny famously wrote a screed about how awful Kenny G is, and one of the things that specifically bothered him about Kenny G was how he whipped his hair around when he played.

Grace Kelly is going to really bug Pat Metheny.  And she has the chops to make him sit down and shut up, too.

I found the segment of "Miss You" (a song I've never heard any jazz musicians play before) in Neely's video interesting enough that I sought out a full performance of it.  There are a couple.  The one I picked has the best sound, as it's the video of her recording the song for release.  It features a number of things you don't expect to see in a studio recording session.  A substantial audience, for instance.  I'll let you discover the others for yourself.


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