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Judy Carmichael

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  • Pianist


Judy Carmichael reviews

August 31, 2009 - Feinstein’s, New York City by Joe Lang

It is strange how years go by, and somehow you keep missing opportunities to catch  jazz players who had always been among those that you had greatly enjoyed on those occasions when you had seen them in the past.  Upon catching up with them, you realize how much good music you had been missing.  This was the case for me when I saw Judy Carmichael at Feinstein’s on August 31.

Carmichael put together an interesting trio for this gig, with Harry Allen on tenor sax and Chris Flory on guitar.  They set a great feeling for what was to come with a romp through “I Found a New Baby, and followed it up with a swinging “You’re Driving Me Crazy.”  Next they declared that “Love Is Just Around the Corner.”

Primarily known as a superb stride pianist, Carmichael has grown more eclectic in her approach over the years, and has recently started to add some vocals to her performances.  She next provided a taste of this side of her talents as she assayed “Deed I Do,” “All the Cats Join In,” and “How About You,” singing the latter away from the piano, accompanied by just Flory’s guitar.  She is a very appealing vocalist, with a husky sound, and a wonderful way with phrasing.

“Lady Be Good” and “Honeysuckle Rose,” performed as the encore piece, rounded out the program for the evening.

This was an hour of good spirited music.  Carmichael provided a lot of between song commentary that was full of fine wit, but occasionally went on too extensively, taking time for patter that would have been more wisely spent with music.  Allen never fails to excite.  He is a consistently creative force who has carved out a niche at the top of the mainstream tenor sax players.  Flory is one of those cats who knows how to be masterfully supportive, but who also has the chops and imagination to shine when the solo light falls on him.

When a set seems to go by too fast, you know that the players are doing everything right, and this was one of those times when this proved to be the case.
April 2009, by Kevin Jones
Australian Broadcasting Company's Limelight Magazine
Rating 4 1/2 Stars
Acclaimed as a polished exponent of stride piano with one of the most swinging left hands in jazz, Judy Carmichael shows she is a more than capable singer, as with her all star septet she slinks through the Benny Goodfman chestnut “All The Cats Join In” and teases playfully on the title track . Her group, all class London-based guitarist Dave Blenkhorn but none is more impressive than trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso. Except Judy, whose joyful solos capture the spirit of Fats Waller, especially on the inspired version of Christopher Columbus.
April 2009, by Jack Rummel

A leader on the stride piano scene for many years, Judy Carmichael walks that fine line between stride and jazz with a foot securely in either camp, depending on the mood and the tune. On this CD, she steps out to front a “big” band (her term) and, to top it off, debuts as a jazz singer.

Carmichael ’s solid stride piano anchors this septet and the men on the sax, clarinet, cornet, trombone, guitar and drums are equally talented. Her singing is quite relaxed, as if she’s been doing it forever. While there are generous dollops of solo piano throughout the disc, the emphases are on the ensemble arrangements and the vocals.

The sound is crisp and intimate, the package is attractive and the liner notes contain many personal reminiscences. Many moods are represented here: her version of Eubie Blake’s Memories of You is as loving as any I’ve heard, but then, like the fabled chameleon, she and the band cut loose moments later with a four-alarm version of Fats Waller’s Minor Drag.

I have enjoyed Judy Carmichael’s piano stylings for a long time and two of her LPs from the early 1980s have remained mainstays in my collection. With this disc, however, she heads in a direction that is out of my expertise, for the rest of the playlist is populated with jazzy takes on tunes from the repertoires of pop and swing. Certainly her keyboard virtuosity remains a high point and as long as purchasers understand that this is not a solo piano recording (a fact that is not revealed until after the shrink-wrap is removed and the jewel case is opened), they will be pleasantly rewarded for their investment.
March 2009, by Jon Regen
Click here to download and read.
March 2009, by Joseph Lang
With the release of Come and Get It, pianist JUDY CARMICHAEL can now be billed as a singer/pianist, for she has included six nifty vocals among the twelve selections. To support her on this new outing, she has recruited Mike Hashim on baritone, soprano and alto saxes, Jon-Erik Kellso on cornet, Nik Payton on clarinet and tenor sax, Dave Blenkhorn on guitar and Ed Ornowski on drums, with Tony Monte adding his piano on two of the vocal tracks.

Carmichael is best known as one of the premier stride pianists, but she extends often herself stylistically into a swing mode. On this album she gives a fair sampling of her eclectic side. Her somewhat husky vocalizing is wonderfully phrased, and reflects the kind of swing that is always present in her piano playing.

Carmichael’s vocal tracks are ”All the Cats,” ”Gee Baby (Ain’t I Good to You),” Come and Get It,” ”Everything But You,” ”Deed I Do” and ”You’re Drivin’ Me Crazy.” The band is comprised of cats with great chops who use their musical imaginations to produce some delightful sounds. Trombonist Barnett shows off another side of his talent handling the vocal chores on ”Love Is Just Around the Corner.” You would be wise to go and get Come and Get It.
Review of Jazz Inspired - Jacqui Naylor by Geoffrey Tozer

Judy's Interview with vocalist Jacqui Naylor is yet another beautiful radio moment. She wastes no time and gets right down to business with the easy-going Naylor.

Of special interest to jazz lovers, she takes a fascinating journey deep into the creative process. In this case she uncovers an unusual method that Naylor calls "acoustic smashing", singing one song while the band plays another. It's curious and astonishingly refreshing.

Carmichael covers a wide field and her thoughtful questions keep the pace moving along smartly. As a jazz performer herself, she has a unique insight into the world of live music and she takes full advantage of her inside status.

A central idea here is that Naylor and her "acoustic smashing" have come upon a brilliant way to make standards truly new again. And there are plenty of examples throughout the piece to prove it.

I love the series "Jazz Inspired" and I loved this interview with Jacqui Naylor. So will your listeners.
The East Hampton Press and The Southampton Press, 9/30/2008
Jazz pianist Judy Carmichael has performed on nearly every continent, but her newest projects are keeping her close to home in Sag Harbor and making a couple of trips to Bay Street Theatre, where she will play a concert this Saturday and record her public radio program in November.

The pianist anticipates playing jazz standards by Benny Goodman, Fats Waller and George Gershwin, among others. Ms. Carmichael pointed out that she has performed at Bay Street before, “but I’ve never done anything even vaguely like this.”

In past performances at the theater on Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf, Ms. Carmichael stuck to the piano. This time, with a drummer, guitarist and saxophonist to back her up, she’ll be singing too.

“I might sing an original,” she said with a laugh. “We’ll see how much nerve I have.”

Though Ms. Carmichael has played piano professionally for 30 years, singing in concert is fairly new to her. In September, she tried her hand at singing on her new album.

“This is the first time I’ve sung on a record, so I’m very excited about it,” she said.

Ms. Carmichael said the fact that she is singing is the biggest surprise of her life.

“I started experimenting and writing, which is something I also didn’t think I would do,” she added.

Prior to her forthcoming album, Ms. Carmichael released seven instrumental albums, including the Grammy-nominated “Two Handed Stride.” Stride, a topic Ms. Carmichael has expounded on in two books, is a ragtime-influenced jazz piano style.

On “Jazz Inspired,” Ms. Carmichael’s National Public Radio show, conversations center on jazz, which serves as a jumping-off point for a much broader discussion on creativity and inspiration. “I get to spend an hour talking with highly successful, highly creative people,” Ms. Carmichael said, saying that’s the best part of doing her show.

Ms. Carmichael said the premise for the show came to her when she thought of how she could open people’s ears to jazz to get them to enjoy and appreciate the music.

The show started 13 years ago as a 15-week special, with famous people Ms. Carmichael had come to know during the course of her career as her first guests, she said. She also taught herself how to produce for radio by listening to a show NPR had done on her, breaking it down into parts to learn how to imitate it.

The host said it was a long haul, but eventually the show grew in popularity and now potential “Jazz Inspired” guests come to her asking to be interviewed, instead of the other way around.

In June, Ms. Carmichael recorded her show at a jazz festival in Switzerland. She’ll also be recording in January at the Sundance Film Festival, which was started by actor Robert Redford, one of her notable guests on “Jazz Inspired.”

Included in Ms. Carmichael’s catalog of episodes, archived at her website,, are interviews with a diverse array of guests, some well known and others more obscure. Her famous interview subjects include Tommy Coster who wrote "The Slim Shady" with Eminem, director Christopher Guest, comedian Chevy Chase and the “Piano Man” himself, Billy Joel.

“Jazz Inspired” is never broadcast live, allowing Ms. Carmichael to add her guests’ favorite music during post-production, she said. On November 29, Thanksgiving weekend, when she begins a series of interviews at Bay Street to be recorded and co-produced with New York City public radio station WNYC, her show will take on a different format. Ms. Carmichael said it will be like a show within a show, since the interview will be taped in front of a live studio audience and then presented as part of her hour-long radio program.

The series will also differ from her typical “Jazz Inspired” episodes because she will perform on the piano, she noted.

“Jazz Inspired” is now broadcast internationally on 170 public radio stations and on Sirius satellite radio.

In the beginning, Ms. Carmichael burned her programs to CDs and mailed them out to radio stations each week. Now she has taken advantage of technological advances and posts her episodes to an FTP—or file transfer protocol—website, where radio stations can quickly download each week’s installment.

“That’s the way radio is now,” she said.

Rather than conducting her interviews in a studio, Ms. Carmichael takes recording equipment with her wherever she goes, whether it be New York, Los Angeles or London. She spent 230 days last year out of town, she said, and she recently finished a three-week stint touring Brazil “from top to bottom.”

“I just got back yesterday from the Amazon, so it was pretty intense,” Ms. Carmichael said during a September 20 interview from her home in Sag Harbor.