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Jazz Voices

Jazz Voices featured in 2019
January - Luca Manning
February - Georgia Mancio
March - Nishla Smith
April - Liane Carroll
May - Germana La Sorsa
June - Cherise Adams-Burnett
July - Cleveland Watkiss
August - Ian Shaw
September - Janice Borla
October - Iain Mackenzie

December - Rita Payés




Rita Payés

Rita Payes

Spanish vocalist and trombone player Rita Payés Rome, was born in 1999 in Vilassar de Mar (Barcelona). Her parents are both musicians so she has always been surrounded by music. She started out studying piano at the School of Music in Premià de Mar, moving on at eight to the School of Modern Music in Badalona where she also started playing trombone. Her next step was to enter the School Oriol Martorell (integrated music training centre) in Barcelona.

Now still only 20 she has played and sung in several big bands, jazz bands and combos. In 2013 she joined the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, under the direction of Joan Chamorro and since then she has made a huge impression and has played and sung at the Barcelona Jazz Festival, Jazz Jamboree Club Auditorium, Barnaswing, Summer Festivals in several villages of Catalonia, concerts in Almería, Valencia, France, Switzerland.

Click here for Rita and I Can't Get Started with the Sant Andreu Jazz Band.


Joan Chamorro presenta Rita Payes


In 2014, she was featured in the album ‘Joan Chamorro presents Rita Payés’. Chamorro said at the time: ‘Rita Payés (14-15 years old, while recording) is a trombonist and singer, but mostly she’s music, in every sense of the word, and a great person.....She joined Sant Andreu Jazz Band only one year ago, and I’ll never forget the emotion she caused me when I heard her sing Stars Fell On Alabama for the first time with a very personal voice, sometimes sharp, sometimes broken, nuanced, perfectly toned and rich in rhythmic contribution. Plus, as a trombonist, she has a clear sound, round, very direct’.


Click here for a video of Rita and Stars Fell On Alabama with the Joan Chamorro Quintet, the trumpet of Andrea Motis and saxophone of Scott Hamilton.




In July 2019, Rita was playing and singing with the Brian Kellock Trio at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and before that, in June, she performed with her mother, guitarist Elisabeth Roma, at London’s Pizza Express in Soho. They were ‘...launching their debut album during the London Catalan Festival, giving their personal take on the music that has accompanied them all their lives, from traditional Catalan lullabies to bossa nova, fado, boleros … ... The  family project started when Rita booked a two-day studio session for Elisabeth as a birthday present in June 2018. Rehearsing and preparing for that session, they re-evaluated and strengthened their repertoire and arrangements. It was then when they decided to take the project further and release it as their debut album. The album will be released later this year...’ Click here for a video of them playing together in April.

There are many videos of Rita on YouTube for you to explore. The video I have chosen for this feature is an informal duet from 2018 with pianist Toni Saigi playing Please Tell Me Now click here.


Rita Payes and Toni Saigi

Rita Payés and Toni Saigi






Iain Mackenzie


Iain Mackenzie

Photograph courtesy of Brian O'Connor, Images of Jazz.


Iain Mackenzie is currently the principal male vocalist for the Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra, and resident singer with the London Dance Orchestra at The Ritz in London's Piccadilly.

Iain grew up in North London. In an interview with UK Music Reviews he was asked about his love of Sinatra's work. He says: "....To be honest, the very first album which I owned wasn’t by Sinatra it was actually an Elvis (Presley) album. Mainly because I had actually got into all of the Elvis movies on Saturday mornings at the local cinema. Because I had bought myself an album I decided to look through my mum and dad's record collection and I found three Sinatra albums; Come Dance With Me, Ring-A-Ding-Ding and (Frank) Sinatra/(Count) Basie: The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings. I just put them on and I was just gobsmacked straightaway with how powerful the sound of the big band was and how cool Sinatra sounded. I was totally awestruck .....".

Iain describes himself as 'a jazz singer who has fallen into performing live on the stage'. He started as a chorister in Durham Cathedral when he was a lad and then decided that he wanted music to be his career. He went to the Leeds College Of Music and studied Jazz Piano for three years and then decided that 'there were much better piano players out there and that perhaps I could earn some money as a singer'. So he chose to go to the Guildhall School Of Music And Drama in London as a singer on their Jazz Masters course.

He now works widely as both a lead and session vocalist, recording for TV and film, and performing with world-renowned ensembles, including both the BBC and RTE Big Band and Concert Orchestras. He has performed with artists as varied as Sandie Shaw, Joss Stone, Mica Paris, Sophie Ellis Bextor, James Tormé and Imelda May. Iain released his first album Twice On Sunday on Jazzizit Records in 2007 and released his first complete 'lounge' album, Blow Your Horn on ChinChin records in May 2015. Other albums include him singing with the Callum Au Big Band on the album Something's Coming (2013) and A Swinging Songbook with Geoff Gascoyne (2016).

September saw him guesting with the excellent London City Big Band at their monthly gig at the Spice Of Life in London's Soho. There are some vocalists who stand in front of a big band and sing while the band plays behind them - but it is always impressive, as on this occasion, when an experienced, talented vocalist like Iain Mackenzie sings, responds and interacts with the band, becoming part of the whole.

There are a number of examples of Iain's singing on YouTube but the one I have chosen is this video of him singing Too Close For Comfort from a gig at The Hideaway in 2013 with Rob Barron (piano); Alex Garnett (sax); Geoff Gascoyne (bass) and Steve Rushton (drums) - click here.


Iain Mackenzie Too Close For Comfort


Click here for Iain's website. Click here for our Jazz Voices page.







Janice Borla


Janice Borla


We step outside the UK and cross The Pond for this month's Jazz Voice to listen to someone who is perhaps not as well known here as she should be. Janice Borla was born in Chicago. She started learning piano when she was eight and vocal training at twelve. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music from Barat College (Lake Forest, Illinois) and went on for further vocal training at Northwestern University.  

While at college she was a member of the Ineluctable Modality, a touring chamber ensemble that performed experimental "new music", and since then she has performed with such jazz musicians as Clark Terry, Terry Gibbs, Bobby Shew, Scott Robinson, Art Davis, and many others.  Just a few of her past performances include Chicago’s Jazz Showcase, The Iridium (NYC), the Women in Jazz Festival (Fort Bragg, CA), the IAJE Conference (NYC) and the Chicago Jazz Festival.

Her voice appears on recordings by various jazz musicians, and her own recordings go back to 1986. Click here to listen to the standard You Don't Know What Love Is from the 2014 album Promises To Burn. Her most recent album, Three Story Sandbox from 2016 is rather different - click here to listen to Circe's Lament from the album.

Janice has been mentoring aspiring vocalists for many years. She is a recognised pioneer in vocal jazz education. In 1986 she founded the vocal jazz camp at the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, and in 1989 brought it to the U.S. as the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp and Hot Jazz – 6 Cool Nites Concert Series.  The annual event, cited by Jazziz Magazine as “one of the most innovative and dynamic summer jazz educational programs in the country,” enjoyed a 26-year run.  The annual concert series afforded her the opportunity to perform with a veritable “who’s who” of vocal jazz. Since 1996 Janice has been Director of Vocal Jazz with the Jazz Studies Program at North Central College (Napervillel Illinois).  She previously served on the jazz faculties at Benedictine University, Northeastern Illinois University and College of DuPage.  As a guest artist and clinician she has performed at high schools, colleges and festivals in the U.S. Canada, Europe and Japan. 

Also in 2016 Janice and her husband, drummer Jack Mouse launched the non-profit organization Flashpoint Creative Arts, whose mission is to promote greater understanding and participation in the art of improvisation. She has published a number of papers including this one Instrumental Transcriptions For The Solo Vocalist that other vocalists migh find of interest - click here.

The video I have chosen comes from 2010 with Janice performing Frank Foster's Simone live in concert at the 22nd annual Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp, with Art Davis (trumpet), John McLean (guitar), Dan Haerle (piano), Bob Bowman (bass) and Jack Mouse (drums) - click here.

Click here for Janice's website. Click here for our Jazz Voices page.


Janice Borla






Ian Shaw


Ian Shaw


Ian Shaw was born in Wales, took a music degree at the University of London, and has gone on to become a greatly respected vocalist, pianist, stand-up comedian, actor and record producer. His career began unusually for a jazz musician on the Alternative Cabaret Circuit, alongside such performers as Julian Clary, Rory Bremner and Jo Brand. At the same time, he was playing in piano bars and at festivals in London and throughout Europe. During the next few years he moved from the singer-pianist format to working with his new band to an eventual move into jazz. Since the 1990s, Ian has released a string of albums, performed across the world, and become one of the UK's most popular performers. There are many examples of his work on YouTube.

Ian was a strong advocate for the plight of those refugees caught up in the former French, Calais camp known as 'The Jungle'. His lovely, poignant song, My Brother, released about the same time, can be interpreted as a song about a brother (relative) as well as a brother (as a fellow being). Click here for a video of Ian singing My Brother.

Of Ian's most recent album, Shine Sister Shine, John Fordham in The Guardian wrote: 'One of the most moving performances I ever heard from the gifted British singer Ian Shaw was on the 2015 Jazz for Labour concert, when he held an audience at the Barbican in London spellbound with an account of Somewhere, from West Side Story, dedicated to gay politics. There are comparable moments in this diverse dedication to female vocal stars .... Shaw’s roots in the capriciously agile jazz methods of the late Mark Murphy drive the sassily swinging How Little We Know, and he delivers his moving original Keep Walking (Song for Sara) in both English and French in recognition of its inspiration in his work with the charity Side by Side Refugees'. Click here to listen to How Little We Know.

There are a number of videos on YouTube by Ian but I have chosen this video of him at Ronnie Scott's Club singing of Lullaby Of The Leaves from 2014 with Barry Green (piano), Mick Hutton (bass), Dave Ohm (drums) and special guest Fabrizio Bosso (trumpet) - click here.


Ian Shaw Lullaby of the Leaves video


Click here for Ian Shaw's website.




Cleveland Watkiss


Cleveland Watkiss


This year, that very fine vocalist Cleveland Watkiss celebrates his 60th birthday with a concert at the London Jazz Festival. On Sunday 24th November he will be at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with a retrospective of music from his extensive back catalogue along with his take on the Great Jamaican Songbook, featuring the songs of Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Delroy Wilson, and more. Cleveland will also be joined by an array of musical guests, drawing from his collaborators old and new – a who’s who list of the British-Caribbean musical legends including Orphy Robinson, Jason Yarde, Byron Wallen and Ayanna Witter-Johnson. Click here for a video of him singing Green and Gold from his gigs on the Great Jamaican Songbook.

Cleveland Watkiss was born to Jamaican parents in Hackney, East London, and was one of nine children. When he was 16, he entered a local singing talent competition, hosted by "FatMan" of FatMan Sound System (North East London Based Roots, Reggae & Dub Sound System) and won the competition twice. He went on to study at the London School of Singing and then to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Cleveland was one of the co-founders of the greatly respected Jazz Warriors big band, and his vocals can be heard on their debut album, Out of Many One People (1987), which won a video award in Japan. Cleveland was then entered for the Wire/Guardian Jazz Awards and was voted best vocalist for three consecutive years.

Other awards include winning the London Jazz Awards for Best Vocalist in 2010 and he has been voted Wire/Guardian Jazz Awards best vocalist for three consecutive years. In 2017 at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards he received the Jazz Vocalist of the Year award. He is also a nominee of the MOBO Awards in Best Jazz Act category. For his services to music Cleveland was awarded an MBE in the 2018 New Year Honours - he is a keen music educator, working as a voice instructor for SingUp, with workshops in venues/schools, colleges and universities around the UK.

Reviewing a solo performance at The Vortex, Ivan Hewett wrote in The Telegraph: "Cleveland Watkiss is such a restlessly curious musician, it's hard to know where to place him. He has sung with the Who and gospel choirs, he has appeared in straight-ahead jazz contexts and in drum and bass, he has worked with video artists, DJs, Indian percussionists, Japanese musicians. All these encounters have left their traces on him, as was clear from his solo gig at the Vortex. Just as important was the virtuoso way a reference to one musical style would morph into another".

YouTube has videos demonstrating the many styles of Cleveland Watkiss but I have chosen this video from 2018 of his singing Puttin' On The Ritz and Hit The Road Jack with the Apple Tea Jazz Band in Minsk, Belarus. - click here.


Cleveland Watkiss Hit The Road Jack






Cherise Adams-Burnett


Cherise Adams Burnett

Cherise Adams-Burnett


Named as Vocalist of the Year at this year’s Jazz FM Awards, Cherise Adams-Burnett graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music in late 2017. She has performed at many of the UK’s most prestigious venues and festivals including the BBC Proms at The Royal Albert Hall and the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C and at festival performances such as the UK's Love Supreme Jazz Festival. She has appeared on stage in drama and musical productions and has sung with a variety of bands and musicians. You can find out more about her performances on her website. A former member of the educational group Tomorrow’s Warriors, she is now involved in developing younger musicians through the same programme as both tutor and workshop leader.

As a second generation descendant to Jamaican Grandparents who settled in London as a part of the Windrush generation, Cherise has also honoured her culture, heritage and family by creating the children’s show, 'Evelyn and the Yellow Birds'. The show explores jazz music and its Caribbean influences through this heart-warming tale, with a live band accompaniment.

At the end of 2018, Cherise hosted a special night in Royal Albert Hall's Elgar Room as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. With a 10 piece band, including a String Quartet, backing vocalists and trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi, she  performed 12 of her original compositions. 

There are several of her videos on YouTube, but I have chosen this performance of the Hoagy Carmichael / Johnny Mercer standard Skylark from the Elgar Room gig where she sings the song accompanied by pianist Gabriel Pier-Manstell - click here.

 Click here for Cherise’s website and forthcoming gig dates.




Germana La Sorsa


Germana La Sorsa

Germana La Sorsa photographed by Brian O'Connor at Ashtead Jazz Club in April 2019


Now based in the UK, Germana Stella La Sorsa was born in Taranto (Italy). She began her musical training attending classical and jazz piano and music theory lessons and quickly developed a particular interest in the art of jazz vocals. She attended various workshops, clinics (such as Berklee College at Umbria Jazz Clinics) and masterclasses held by international artists, such as Bob Stoloff, Michelle Hendricks and Anita Wardell.

She started performing in Italy at an early age and worked throughout the Italian Jazz scene going on to graduate from the University of Salento in Lecce with a Bachelor’s degree in Sciences of Music and Performing Arts and a First-level Professional Masters Programme in Music and Audiovisual Communication, and from the Conservatoire “Niccolo Piccini” in Bari, a Masters in Jazz Music with the highest marks and special honours.​

Germana completed her training as a singing teacher before moving to the UK in 2017 where she started performing regularly around London. She currently teaches singing technique and jazz singing both privately and at North Bridge House Senior School (Hampstead) and Morley College (London).

She  has recently been developing her own project, JiC - Jazz in Cinema, alongside the double bass player Joe Boyle, and it is a video from a JiC performance of ‘Round Midnight at the 606 Club in London last November that I have chosen this month (click here). With her, she has Joe Boyle (double bass); Sam Leak (piano) and Dave Storey (drums). I find the sound is a little bass-heavy, presumably from the placement of the video camera, but the performance is worth checking out.

 Click here for Germana’s website and forthcoming gig dates.





Liane Carroll


Liane Carroll

Photograph by Brian O'Connor, Images of Jazz


Liane Carroll is one of the UK's most respected and popular jazz vocalists. She was born in London and grew up in the coastal town of Hastings, Sussex - reflected in her great 2015 album Seaside, and in London. She started learning the piano at the age of three, began composing at the age of eight and has been a professional singer, pianist and composer since she was 15. She became a session singer with a range of bands and has worked with many artists ranging from Sir Paul McCartney, Gerry Rafferty, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with Ian Shaw, and so many others. She is a regular performer at the top UK Jazz Clubs and involved in a range of projects.

Her string of nominations and awards speaks volumes for the esteem in which she is held. They include: Winner: Best Vocalist and Best of Jazz - BBC Jazz Awards 2005; Winner: Musician Of The Year - British Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2008; Winner: Best Jazz Album of the Year - Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2012; Nominated: Best UK Vocalist of 2012 - Jazz FM Awards 2013; Winner: Best British Vocalist - British Jazz Awards 2013; Winner: Best new CD - British Jazz Awards 2015 (Seaside); Nominated: Jazz Album Of The Year - Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2016 (Seaside); Nominated: Vocalist Of The Year 2016 - Jazz FM Awards 2016; Winner: Best British Jazz Vocalist - British Jazz Awards 2016; BASCA Gold Badge Award for Services to Music - 2016.

On YouTube you can enjoy her performing a range of solo studio videos (e.g. Skylark from her 2017 album The Right To Love), duets with vocalist Ian Shaw, and other videos with various bands. There are many to choose from - I have picked this video of Liane with the Sligo Project Big Band in July 2018 and Malcolm Edmonstone's arrangement of Donald Fagan's The Goodbye Look (from his Nightfly album). Soloists include Linley Hamilton (trumpet), Ciaran Wilde (alto sax), Mick Marshall and Paul Frost (trombones) - click here.


Liane Carroll video


Click here for Liane's website where you will find details of her gigs around the UK this year.







Nishla Smith

Nshla Smith


Originally from Australia, Nishla Smith lived for a while in Germany and is now based in Manchester. Nishla is a singer and songwriter who defies easy categorisation. Nishla's live sets have been described as including 'a breathtaking variety of material: from celebrated originals to dark jazz standards and devastating ballads'. One of Manchester Jazz Festival’s talent development artists and a prolific collaborator, Nishla has worked with some of the most creative jazz and classical musicians in the UK. She is currently working on a narrative song cycle produced by Opera North, and her original project has shows at NQ Jazz, The Vortex and Newcastle Arts Centre.

Click here to listen to Nishla singing Just One Of Those Things.

Opera North’s Resonance project was launched in 2017 and offers professional artists working in all genres the opportunity to develop new performance ideas. Successful applicants receive up to a week of free rehearsal space in central Leeds in March and April 2019, a grant to cover fees for those involved and other costs, support and advice from technicians, producers and other specialists, and an optional ‘work in progress’ performance. Nishla's work on the song-cycle tells the story of her grandmother's sister, Agnes, who disappeared as a child in Malaysia in the 1930s. It was her grandmother who inspired Nishla to start singing. Nishla is working with pianist Tom Harris and artist Luca Shaw to create a cross-genre narrative show. There will be a preview in April, at Opera North. People can keep in touch about it via Nishla's website.

Nishla is married to cellist Will Hewer and together they have made a number of duet videos. Click here for their version of Paul McCartney's All My Loving, and click here for their take on Singing In The Rain.

In September 2017, Nishla produced a major commission for Manchester Collective. 'Cabaret', was a collage of her original songs and reimagined classical and jazz repertoire. She toured throughout the UK, the work was performed live on BBC3's In Tune, and was later revived for a limited second run at Manchester Home's Push Festival, an annual celebration of the North West’s creative talents. In 2018, Nishla toured Australia; performed at Mona's summer jazz festival in Tasmania, and had a sell-out show at Melbourne's Paris Cat Jazz Club. After a summer residency at The Sage in Gateshead, Nishla closed 2018 with shows at Manchester Jazz Festival, Lancaster Jazz Festival, Matt and Phred's, and Band On The Wall. With support from Manchester Jazz Festival's hothouse talent development programme, Nishla will be releasing her single Blue Dream at the end of March, 2019.

Nishla is currently working on a new project, a collaboration with Leeds-based sax player, Emma Johnson, and together they have shows booked through the year in Manchester and Leeds. Her regular Quintet includes Aaron Wood (trumpet), Rich Jones (piano), Joshua Cavanagh-Brierley (bass) and Johnny Hunter (drums) their forthcoming gigs include Newcastle Arts in May.


The video I have chosen is this one from the gig last year at The Sage, Gateshead with Nishla's Quintet
playing Friends With Monsters and Julian with Rich Jones (piano), Jeff Guntren (saxophone), Rebecca Mills (harp), John Pope (bass) and Johnny Hunter (drums).




Click here for Nishla's website where you will find details of her gigs around the UK this year.




Georgia Mancio


Georgia Mancio

Georgia Mancio (Picture by Dave Ohm)


Georgia Mancio has been nominated in the category of Best Jazz Vocalist year after year in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards and British Jazz Awards. She has five albums to her name and her 2017 album Songbook, co-written with pianist Alan Broadbent, received much acclaim. Georgia's latest project, Finding Home, co-written and led with pianist/composer Kate Williams received a 4 star review from The Guardian for its debut performance and will be released as an album with accompanying tour in the spring.

Now based in London, Georgia produces music that embraces a wide-ranging jazz repertoire alongside influences from her Anglo/Italian/Uruguayan heritage and her own writings.

In 2010 Georgia launched her own international voice festival - ReVoice! - in association with the Pizza Express Jazz Club. To date Georgia has produced 5 annual editions of ReVoice!, performing 44 sets herself and presenting over 160 artists. Collaboration is a key element to Georgia's work and over the past two years she has followed ReVoice! with a project she calls Hang, a series of bespoke collaborations and new writing featuring the cream of the UK’s jazz, latin and improvised music scenes again at Soho's Pizza Express Jazz Club.

There are a number of tracks from Georgia's albums on YouTube, including an introductory video to the Songbook album, but I have chosen this video of her singing The Last Goodbye from Glasgow's 'Jazz Nights At The Quay' series from 2017:




Click here for Georgia's website and here for her gigs around the UK this year.




Luca Manning


Luca Manning


Luca Manning is a young jazz vocalist from Glasgow, Scotland. In 2018, he was voted ‘Rising Star’ at the Scottish Jazz Awards and was also nominated in the ‘Best Vocalist’ category. Now resident in London, Luca is in his second year at the Guildhall School of Music on the BMus (hons) Jazz degree course and has already played major London venues such as Pizza Express Jazz Club and Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho leading his own ensembles. He has also become a vocal chair holder with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra since January 2018. Listen to him and you can see why.

There are a number of videos by Luca on YouTube, but I have chosen his version of I Should Care, sung here with Alan Benzie at the piano




Click here for Luca's website.



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