Produced by 
Barbara Brighton & Bill Cunliffe

Arrangements by 
Bill Cunliffe (9,10), Jeff Colella (1), 
Jacob Mann (2), Susan Marder (11), 
Rich Eames/Julie Kelly (7),
Otmaro Ruiz (5), John Proulx (8)


Release Date: September 9, 2014


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Happy to Be | Featuring: 
Julie Kelly vocals  •  Bill Cunliffe piano/synthesizer  • Anthony Wilson guitar • Tom Warrington bass  •  Joe LaBarbera drums  •  Walter Rodriguez percussion • Bob Sheppard saxophone, flute  •  Clay Jenkins harmon trumpet •  Ron Stout flugelhorn • Bob McChesney trombone  •   Kim Richmond saxophone  •  Nick Mancini vibes

What The Critics Are Saying
"Sassy, candid Julie Kelly tells captivating stories that hold us in thrall..."Downbeat Magazine


Liner Notes 
by Kate McGarry 

A vocalist with a reputation for refined tastes in tunes, band mates and arrangements, Julie Kelly gives us a rich harvest of songs and stories in her new recording Happy to Be. It's a bumper crop of juicy, freshly picked tunes worth waiting for; and worthy of joining the seven other smart and swinging recordings Kelly has released during her lauded career as a jazz vocalist, lyricist and educator. And while this project does feature some obscure gems from the Great American Songbook, it also contains original songs and lyrics from Julie's own expanding portfolio, even as she spotlights new material from jazz's next generation of fine composers and lyricists.

The swinging title track, Happy To Be, featuring a lyric penned by vocalist Inga Swearinger (with additional lyrics by Julie) in homage to her idol Bobby McFerrin, epitomizes the musical mindset of Ms. Kelly on this set of 11 tunes that ferry us from the familiar to the unknown and back with a sure and steady hand.

There are original song lyrics by the fine Danish singer Fleurine (High in the Sky) and Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro (I Wish I Could Go Traveling Again), as well as a tune by Phoebe Snow, the little-heard Harpo's Blues. Kelly's own lyrics are full of tender observation (For Joni) and whip-smart humor (The Blues According To Orpheus).

Typical of Julie's recordings is the stellar company she keeps, and Happy To Be is no exception. You can hear the easy rapport of old friends and long time collaborators; among them pianist Bill Cunliffe, (who ably co-produced and also provided a number of fine arrangements) bassist Tom Warrington, drummer Joe La Barbera, and guitarist Anthony Wilson. Their spirited playing shows how they relish and are inspired by each other's company. The A-list horn section featuring Bob Sheppard, Clay Jenkins, Ron Stout, and Bob Mc Chesney brings vivid color and texture to the proceedings as well.

Julie enlists the talents of the young John Proulx on I Wish I Could Go Traveling Again, a track that could easily be a hit radio single thanks to the combo platter of Julie's wry delivery, the duo's chemistry and Proulx's winning arrangement. Kelly's long time love affair with Brazil finds an ally in Otmaro Ruiz whose hip arrangement of the Brazilian classic Corcovado combined with her carioca cool makes sure we know it's 2014, not 1960, baby. Co-producer and friend of good singers everywhere, Barbara Brighton brings her razor sharp editing skills and a talent for keeping the lyric front and center.

But enough about the supporting cast! There's no question that it's Kelly's poised and economical singing, (no histrionics from this diva!) and joyful rhythmic drive at the helm of this appealing project. I was especially fond of her take on Bob Dorough's charmer, You're The Dangerous Type. That kind of swing feel you don't get from hanging out at Barney's all day, people. There's no shortage of filigree ballad work either. Case in point, on a trio of ballads she inhabits and unravels each like a time lapsed photographic sequence of real life love…the steadfast sweetness of Dave Frishberg's Our Love Rolls On, intensity and longing on Richard Rodney Bennett's I Never Went Away, and the disillusionment and hard won wisdom of the Bergmans' I Have the Feeling I've Been Here Before. There's something about her sound that is utterly engaging and convincing. No matter what Julie is singing about, I believe her.

Though the dedication to craft evidenced on this recording didn't surprise me at all, repeated listenings did me one better; they reaffirmed that insightful, skilled (and entertaining!) jazz singing is not yet a lost art. Happy To Be is proof that this great American tradition is in good hands so long as Julie Kelly is on a bandstand somewhere, swinging hard and telling it like it is. ~Kate McGarry 

About Julie 

Julie Kelly is one of the most respected jazz singers on the West Coast. She has performed and recorded across the country and around the world with such luminaries as Chris Botti, Anthony Wilson, Gene Bertoncini, Benny Green, Nat Adderley, Ray Brown, John Clayton, Ross Tompkins, Bobby Ojeda, Gary Foster, and Alan Broadbent. Leonard Feather once said that Julie "radiates a sense of joy and spontaneity. Listening to her, you are reminded that jazz singing is still alive and well!" Known to her many fans for her burnished voice, penetrating emotional interpretations, hip material, and solid sense of swing, "Happy To Be" is Kelly's eighth album and her first on the Jazzed Media label.

Kelly's last CD, "Everything I Love" from 2006, featured Mike Wofford on piano and Bob Sheppard on saxophone and flute. The Los Angeles Daily News said Kelly has "a remarkable tone in the alto range, rock-solid intonation, knowing interpretation and a nice way with original lyrics. Besides Brazilian classics -- sung partially in Portuguese -- and standards (I'm Glad There Is You), Kelly pays homage to Joni Mitchell with extraordinarily pure renditions of "Both Sides Now" and "Woodstock". Kelly's heart and voice are in the right place."

Her collaboration with the remarkable pianist/arranger Tom Garvin produced two highly regarded albums, "Some Other Time" and "Kelly Sings Christy," about which the Star Ledger said, "The lustrous-voiced, emotionally penetrating jazz singer is as good as it gets, and can handle anything -- and does on this gorgeous album, arranged with flair by Tom Garvin."

Julie's work with Grammy-winning pianist/arranger Bill Cunliffe brought forth "Stories To Tell" and "Into The Light." About "Into The Light," All About Jazz said, "Kelly gives a song a dimension that sets it apart and takes it into a new realm. Each song here is beautifully textured as she brings in her own interpretations riding on the exceptional arrangements of Bill Cunliffe and his lyrically resonant piano playing."

Kelly, an Oakland, California native, has been a Los Angeles resident for many years. The year she spent in Brazil had a profound effect on her musical development, performing with musicians like Carlos Lyra and Luis Eca. Upon returning to the U.S., she became a member of John Handy's World Music Ensemble, for which she played guitar and sang Brazilian music.

Her continuing interest in world music, contemporary vocal jazz, poetry and songwriting have all enriched her newest musical offering,"Happy To Be."

In "For Joni" my bebop sister Julie Kelly has written a gorgeous anthem. On behalf of all of us jazz singer / Joni Mitchell lovers, "she sings to us of turbulence and grace." Wow. Thank you Julie! 
~ Tierney Sutton

She’s that rare bird: a real jazz singer. She’s like a top-drawer instrumentalist, taking a tune and finding a distinctly personal, swinging approach for it. 
~ Zan Steward, Jazziz