Sandy Brown Jazz

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The Tea Break is a series of short, fun items in What's New Magazine
that gives jazz musicians and others an opportunity to update us with what they are doing.


Germana Stella La Sorsa (March 2022)


Germana Stella La Sorsa


Germana Stella La Sorsa was born in Italy where as a child she took classical and jazz piano and music theory lessons.​ She developed a particular interest in singing and jazz vocals, so she focused her attention on finding her own musical language under the guidance of some of the most popular Italian jazz musicians, singers and singing teachers and then improved her technique by attending Vapour albumvarious workshops, clinics and masterclasses. She also has a strong interest in rhythm, and went to private drums and percussion lessons.

Graduating from the University of Salento in Lecce where she was awarded a Bachelors degree in Sciences of Music and Performing Arts and a First-level Professional Masters Programme in Music and Audiovisual Communication, Germana went on to achieve a Masters degree in Jazz Music with the highest marks and special honours from the Conservatoire “Niccolo Piccini” in Bari. This took her on to train as a singing teacher attending Estill Voice Training courses.

In 2017, Germana moved to London where she has performed at the main London jazz venues including Ronnie Scott's Club, the Vortex Jazz Club, the Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Club, Oliver's Jazz Bar and Kansas Smitty's.​

She has also been developing her own project, the JiC (Jazz in Cinema) Project, alongside the double bass player Joe Boyle. ​

Germana has been composing new material much of which appears on her debut album 'Vapour', released on the London-based label 33 Jazz Records.



Here's a video introduction for the album:





Besides her singing career, Germana currently teaches singing technique and jazz singing both at North Bridge House Senior School (Hampstead), Morley College (London) and privately.

Talking to Germana during our Tea Break she describes her singing as 'instrumental'. Thinking about it, the voice used as an instrument goes back a long way and has many forms. In the 1930s and '40s, the group The Ink Spots imitated musical instruments with their voices; Scat singing has been around for a long while and Vocalese by groups like Manhattan Transfer and singers such as Al Jarreau featured in the 1960s and '70s; we have seen the use of Beatbox, and of course there is the way all jazz vocalists will vary notes and phrasing in lyrics.


Listen to Germana singing Tacho from her album Vapour:




I find a nice balance of colour in Germana's album where the use of Sam Leak's Hammond brings warmth and depth while Nick Costley-White's guitar reflects Germana's vocals and brings us some engaging solos, as does Sam Leak. Jay Davis's expressive drums underpin the whole and are really well-balanced in the mix. Check out the track Inca Roads where Nick's guitar works in a complementary way with Germana's voice as the Hammond organ swells quietly leading into a fine guitar solo:




As with all instruments, the voice's effectiveness depends on the quality of the voice and the confidence and control of the musician to do with the music what they intend. To me, this is an album where I think the listener will appreciate it increasingly from playing it a few times. You can find details about Vapour and listen to samples of all the tracks here.


Germana stopped by for a tea break when storms Dudley and Eunice were arriving in the UK and the week before schools broke up for February half-term.


Hi Germana, nice to see you – come on in, it’s pretty windy out there today.

Hi Ian! Thanks a lot ... it is, isn't it? I really still can't cope with English weather!


Can I get you a tea or coffee?

Tea would be lovely, thanks! ... Weirdly enough for an Italian person, I don't really like coffee and have drunk tea since I was seven!


Milk and sugar?

Milk, no sugar please.


Have you had a good day teaching? How were the kids today?

Yes thanks, I do really love teaching and today was good even if we are all pretty tired since half term break is around the corner.


I really liked your new album, Vapour. How has it been going?

Thank you very much Ian! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it! The release is going very well .. a few radio stations have played a couple of tracks lately - it seems people really like "If I Fall In Love" and "Tacho" on Spotify! Reviews are coming in as well so I'm quite happy about everything!


Here's a video of If I Fall In Love from the album:





How would you describe your style of singing?

The first word that pops in my head is "instrumental"..... which is not really a style, is it? (she giggles). I can't really confine myself or my way of singing in a "stylistic box". I've been listening to a lot of music since I was a child, from soul to r'n'b ... rock and pop .... I feel that everything that I came across influenced me. As you might have caught from "Vapour", I just like to use my voice in different ways. I don't always feel the need to sing lyrics but I definitely love to improvise ... so I guess that I fit in the jazz style? (Germana laughing).


I think that 'instrumental' sums it up well. It makes me think, too, of how voice has been used 'instrumentally' in jazz over the years. Do you have a favourite track on the album?

I think that the dearest track to me is "If I Fall In Love" since it's dedicated to a very special person (my husband) but it also helped me - when I was writing it - to face some old demons of mine (related to a previous abusive relationship). I have to say though that the tracks that open and close the album - "In The Beginning" and "Following The Flow" always "wow" me ... I love the atmosphere that the guys created! 


Listen to In The Beginning.





Yes, I like If I Fall In Love, it is an interesting take on the number and there is some nice playing by Nick and Sam on that one too. I see that you have included two compositions by Frank Zappa and Hermeto Pascoal – not common choices – what drew you to them?

Hermeto Pascoal


So ... I've always loved "Inca Roads", but, to be honest with you, I couldn't stand too much of Zappa's crazy noises in the tune, despite the fact that I love how provocative his music is!, so I decided to rearrange it cutting some of that ... also to kind of prove that his music was so full of jazz! Apparently he didn't love jazz that much but I remember that when I first listened to "Inca Roads" I thought: "wow ... this is a great jazz melody!"

Hermeto Pascoal

Regarding Hermeto Pascoal, I discovered him when I was attending the Conservatoire in Bari. I had to study one of his tunes for an exam so I started to listen to his music and when I first heard "Tacho" I fell for the melody .... in odd time, which I love! ... so I decided to bring it to the first rehearsal with the band, and after having played it with the band I decided I definitely wanted to include it in the album.


Germana Stella La Sorsa



Talking of the band, it features Sam Leak on Hammond organ, Nick Costley-White on guitar and Jay Davis on drums. I have been out of touch with them for a while because of the Covid stuff, but they are great musicians and must have been good to work with?

They really are a big part of the album. I'll be eternally grateful to them for giving life to my music! Working with them was simply an honour for me .. not only they are great musicians but also amazing people - which is always a huge bonus for me! They listened to my ideas, we worked together on what I had in mind, and I couldn't be happier with the result! We should all have tea and coffee together soon!


Sounds like a date! What inspired you to come to the UK in 2017 and how different have you found things here to the way things are in Italy?

A couple of years before moving to the UK, I came here to visit some musicians/friends of mine and the jazz scene just captivated me! I feel that here there's more space for experimentation and for a more modern/contemporary language in jazz ... that you can actually choose to sing not only jazz standards or tunes that a singer is expected to perform, if you know what I mean.   


Germana Stella La Sorsa
Photograph courtesy of Carl Hyde





Absolutely. Presumably you are still in touch with Italian musicians – are there any particular musicians there you think we should listen out for?

I'm still in touch with my old colleagues from the Conservatoire and I still collaborate with a great guitarist and friend, Francesco Bellanova. He is definitely one that you want to check out! also keep an eye on Jacopo Ferrazza, a bass player and composer. I don't know him personally but took the chance to do a virtual collaboration on Instagram with him - I'd definitely love to meet him and play with him at some point!


Here is a video of Jacopo Ferrazza playing a solo double bass version of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Lady.








Probably time for another tea? Do you fancy a biscuit or two? Let’s see, I have some Hob Nobs, Garibaldis and Custard Creams in the tin. If you were back in Italy, what would you have been having with your tea? ... I really must vary what I have to offer!

Aw! Always more tea please! And I'd love some biscuits .... Hob Nobs please! Your selection is already perfect, but can I suggest you try some "canestrelli"? Those were my favourite with tea in Italy, and I know that you can find them here as well! 


Canestrelli Italian egg yolk biscuits


I'll put them on the shopping list for my next Tea Break. By the way, I see Joe Boyle, who mixed and did the artwork for Vapour, has also been involved in getting your Jazz In Cinema Project together. How did that project come about and what plans do you have for it?

So .. I met Joe - who's my husband! - the first night that I arrived in London - crazily enough, I went straight to Ronnie's for the late show/jam session that night!. Since the first times that we talked about music, we discovered we have lots of shared tastes and that we both loved to experiment with sounds and ideas. The Jazz In Cinema Project was initially born as an acoustic double bass/voice (+effects) duo. We recorded a demo, playing music not only used in movies but that had every sort of connection with the world of cinema.Then we thought to involve other musicians as special guests for the gigs - like Sam Leak, Rupert Cox, Dave Storey and Jay Davis - and played with the quartet line up in some of the London renowned venues - that was another great period for me here! Lots of fun gigs and lots of satisfaction for my actual first project in the UK!

Since both Joe and I started to focus more on our solo projects - Joe is due to release an album soon as well - we put JiC on hold .... but let's just say, without too much spoiler, that we'll be back soon!


We can watch Round Midnight filmed at the Vortex Jazz Club with JiC featuring Sam Leak on piano and Dave Storey on drums.  





That's good to hear - please let me know when it is happening again. Are you finding that the music scene is opening up a bit from the pandemic? Do you think venues and audiences are adjusting to the world again?

Well, there's definitely a lot of excitement around about live music. I've personally been again to gigs and jam sessions, and gigging myself as well, and the vibe is so great! But still ... there's a little bit of anxiety and concern about catching the virus and avoiding positive test results. I definitely think that both venues and audiences are being so flexible and patient, attempting to reach a new normality.


So, what else have you got lined up for 2022?

Since because of Covid things have been slowed down, I'm still planning spring/summer gigs for the album, so watch this space! I'm also writing some new music coming from some recent events, not to mention having been to some friends' and colleagues' gigs that really inspired me! 


Gretchen Parlato



If you could invite any guest, past or present, to appear with you at a future gig, who might you invite?

I'd die for a duo with Gretchen Parlato! She is just incredible for me!


Gretchen Parlato

What could we play of hers that you like?

I'd say her version of "Skylark" which is one of my absolute favourite tunes!







Listen to Gretchen Parlato singing Skylark.





Thanks for stopping by, Germana, that's been a really enjoyable tea break. I really hope 2022 has lots of good things in store for you, and be sure to stay in touch

Thank you for having me Ian, and thanks for the tea and biscuits! It has been an absolute pleasure - I'll treasure your good wishes and I hope to see you again soon!


Click here for Germana's website. Click here for details of her album Vapour.


Germana Stella La Sorsa band

Germana with Nick Costley-White, Sam Leake and Jay Davis
Photograph courtesy of George Nelson



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