Progressive Jazz Vocalist Kristina Koller Releases Debut Album 'Perception'
Accomplished, New York-based, vocalist, composer and arranger Kristina Koller is proud to announce her arrival with the January 19th 2018 release of her debut album "Perception". The 23-year old will step into the spotlight with this 12-track compilation of deftly composed originals and reimagined gems, carefully selected with the thematic focus of love and relationships at the forefront of each. With the help of her talented and tightly-knit trio, which features Fima Chupakhin on piano, Chris Talio on bass and Joe Spinelli on drums, Koller also presents a snapshot of the self-development she has recently experienced as a singer, songwriter and arranger.
"Perception" includes eight covers ranging from the era of '30s Tin Pan Alley ("Blame It On My Youth," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "You Go To My Head") to '00s pop ("I Miss You," "Skinny Love"). In this sense, Koller really can be perceived as both a timeless and contemporary jazz vocalist. Regardless of where exactly each tune fits into the historic timeline though, these 12 individual tracks all tell different stories of love and relationships, and in turn, provide disparate perceptions of such experiences. Teaming this array of classics with her own confessional and emotionally honest lyrics, "Perception" certainly packs a hefty emotional punch. Although Koller, of course, would have had a specific and personal meaning attached to each recording, she wants her listeners to interpret each song in their own individual way.
"I want people to figure out for themselves what is the style of music, without labeling
anything. That's one reason why I picked Perception as the title."
The album title also implies the nostrum that first impressions matter-you only get one chance to release a debut CD. When faced with this challenge, some choose to display a variety of music genres and styles, and others decide to put their best foot forward and play what they know best. In contrast to these two approaches, Koller decided to showcase the self-development she has experienced in recent months, not just as a vocalist, but as a composer and arranger. Originally, Kristina intended on displaying a collection of straight-ahead jazz compositions. However, since mid-2016, Koller has been recording and producing a number of vignettes - viewable on her website and on Youtube - simply titled "Sessions". For each episode, she placed herself in duo, trio, quartet or quintet configurations, some with musicians she hadn't previously played with, all comfortable navigating multiple genres. With their input, Koller created arrangements on the spot, jam session style, and through the performance of each, the beguiling vocalist discovered and developed her own distinct sound and style.
Now, knowing the approach and result she wanted to apply and achieve, respectively, Koller assembled a trio of respected musicians, who undoubtedly, helped her realize her aspirations for this debut release. Koller explains that pianist Chupakhin, "has a good ear for where the chords should be voiced, which I'm very particular about." She praises Talio for "being able to lay back on the beat and feel the groove," and Spinelli for "having a good pocket and also being able to swing really well."
Not coincidentally, Koller's process of self-discovery transpired after she graduated from the jazz program at The City College of New York, where mentors included such exemplary singers as Carolyn Leonhart and Charenee Wade. Another mentor, via master classes, was Cyrille Aimée, who produced two of the songs on "Perception". Other influences include Nancy Wilson ("I love her song choices, and the way she always tells a story-she's not just singing to sing"), Anita O'Day ("her great sense of rhythm"), José James ("I've seen him a few times, and each performance was completely different musically"), and Gretchen Parlato ("she finds ways to add vocal percussion and other sounds to her arrangements"), as well as Robert Glasper and The Bad Plus ("for pushing the limits of jazz with various re-harmonizations and unique arrangements"). Although Kristina certainly wears her influences on her immaculately tailored creative sleeve, she knows that adding to the legacy of jazz is much more important than merely recreating the performances of others. She actively points her creative compass in the right direction, by reinventing classics, while still retaining their essence.
The album features Fima Chupakhin (piano), Chris Talio (bass), Joe Spinelli (drums). Also with Michael King (piano), Eric Wheeler (bass), Darrian Douglas (drums), Nick Brust (tenor sax), Josh Evans (trumpet) & Gabe Valle (violin).