Numerous artists have paged through the Great American Songbook. And then there’s Sylvia Brooks, whose warmth and charm, combined with a commanding stage presence and sonic clarity have set her head-and-shoulders above the rest. A Florida native, creativity and classic musicianship are in her blood. The combination of her father, a jazz stalwart, playing with such giants as Stan Getz, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie, and her mother, a trained opera singer, who also dazzled audiences at the Fontainebleau and the Eden Roc, left little doubt that Sylvia’s growth as an artist in her own right would see her come to embody that unique parentage.
Striking out on her own for the first time, Sylvia was drawn to the stage, joining the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. A series of national tours and periods spent with other companies ensued, but seeking further artistic fulfillment eventually brought her back to the musical fold, the wellspring of her personal expression and joy.
Solidly ensconced in the cabaret tradition of such stellar torch singers as Lena Horne (her personal idol), Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington, Sylvia has taken the role of “jazz singer” in an entirely new direction. And her second album, “Restless,” melding the moody world of deadly dames, flawed heroes and the dreamers of broken dreams with staccato rhythms, percussive strings and seductive horns, creates an entirely new genre she calls Jazz Noir. And all this without ceding the stage to the music, but rather, remaining steadfastly in front of it—all the better to act as a bridge between the musicians and her audience, and in the process, slyly exploit the frisson between the traditional and the contemporary to stunning—and unexpected—effect.
An auburn-haired version of classic Hollywood sultriness, “Brooks sings precisely the way she looks,” writes Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times, “a dark, smoky sound with impressive firepower,” which makes her move in ever-expanding artistic directions both visually and audibly gripping. This is your invitation to discover Sylvia Brooks for yourself—and her imaginative take on the surprising twists and turns buried deep in the Great American and Jazz Standard Songbooks.