Veronica Swift at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, Denver | Music
After two decades of American Idol, we’ve all grown used to melismatic singers who believe that each vowel should be stretched to include as many free notes as the human larynx and lungs allow.
Veronica Swift, on the other hand, stands out from the crowd. With her wide vocal range, perfect pitch and distinctive phrasing – as well as an unmistakably charismatic stage presence – she prefers the less athletic, but no less powerful, approach of the “vocalese” tradition. (Think Astrud Gilberto, Robert Wyatt, Chet Baker.)
No wonder then that the 27-year-old singer has become the “it girl” of burgeoning jazz artists. So far, she has been the headliner of the Telluride Jazz Festival, toured with Wynton Marsalis and won the award for Best New Artist, Best New Release and Best Vocal Release in the Reader’s Survey of the Jazz Times 2019.
Much of this can be attributed to the jazz lineage that made the singer’s career choice almost inevitable. Swift’s father, Hod O’Brien, has played piano on several Chet Baker albums. His mother, singer Stephanie Nakasian, recorded and toured with Jon Hendricks. According to family traditions, Swift started touring with her parents at the age of 9 and often slept in the bass cabinet while the band was on stage.
While the covers of Swift’s recent albums are drawn largely from jazz, bebop, and the Great American Songbook, there are signs that she is diversifying. Its 2021 This bitter land The album includes a rendition of “Sing!” of the Dresden Dolls. and Swift’s current tour setlists include songs from The Temptations and Queen. Where she will go next is to be guessed, but it will not be American Idol.
Veronica Swift, November 19, 7:30 p.m., Newman Center for the Performing Arts, June Swaner Gates Concert Hall, 2344 E. Iliff Ave., Denver, newmancenterpresents.com.