Jessie Arlen's debut recording "Certain Surprise"

January 19, 2010 10:09:25 AM PST
Jessie Arlen, a 22 year-old vocalist, raised in Evanston and now based in New York, has released her debut recording Certain Surprise. Winner of Downbeat Magazine's 2007 Best Jazz Vocalist Student Award, Jessie has a pure, soulful voice that lends itself to multiple musical styles including jazz, folk and R&B. The album features a number of standards, including versions of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" and Ann Ronell's "Willow Weep for Me" that sound as though they were taped during a smoky, middle-of-the-night jam session, while her take on Mercer and Kern's "I'm Old Fashioned" transports the listener back to the tuxedoed elegance of a 1940s night club. By contrast, her interpretation of the Beatles' "Oh! Darling" has a Ray Charles-like soulfulness, and two Burt Bacharach standards are performed with a in a way that salutes the pop-tune original but gives them a modern twist. The lesser known "More Love" by J. Segal and the John Martyn's title track are performed with a heartfelt delicacy that gives the listener the sense that they are hearing a classic tune and lyric for the first time.Jessie has been surrounded by music her entire life. The daughter of popular Chicago area orchestra leader Ken Arlen, Jessie is currently studying music at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and New York's Eugene Lang College. Earlier, while studying at Lawrence University, jazz great Jon Hendricks chose her to be the principal vocalist for the Lawrence University Jazz Artist Concert Series. In the Chicago area, she has studied voice with Winifred Brown and John Komasa and was a soloist with Evanston Township High School's top Jazz Instrumental Ensemble. Also a composer, she plays piano and guitar.

Joining Arlen on the recording many of Chicago's best musicians, including Neil Artwick, piano; Mark Beringer, acoustic bass; Phil Gratteau, drums; Ken Arlen, soprano and tenor saxophone; Mark Olen, trumpet and flugelhorn; Russ Phillips, trombone; David Young, muted trumpet; Richie Davis, acoustic and electric guitar; Steve Roberts, ukulele and electric guitar; Steve Ramsdell, nylon string and electric guitar; and Rich Stitzel, percussion.

To hear the CD or get more information, visit