There are not many women, nor men for that matter, who would give up a business with a six-figure salary to pursue a love of jazz. But jazz singer/pianist Amandah Jantzen did just that in 1986. It was after her mother died that she decided to abandon the business world to fulfill her dream of becoming a performer of the music she had loved for years, jazz. Playing by ear without benefit of lessons, Jantzen dabbled in piano since she was six years old and guitar since age 11. Unlike the case with many jazz musicians, music was not a big thing around the house as she was growing up. About the only thing musical she heard was Lawrence Welk. After her mother's death, however, she took the big step and headed for a career in jazz. In 1991, Jantzen moved from the San Francisco Bay Area and took up residence in Portland, where she did everything from country to pop, but jazz and blues continued to be her passion. While in Portland, she was fortunate to meet veteran jazz bass player LeRoy Vinnegar who, along with some others, gave her career a shove in the right direction. Since then, she has been doing very well.
Some of Jantzen's musical highlights in the Portland area were performing at Museum After Hours, Starbucks By Starlight, the Rose Festival, Artquake, and many local jazz clubs. She also sang the national anthem at a Portland Trailblazer game, which was an experience given the large number of people in the stands. She then relocated to Vancouver, Canada, performing there for several years. In 1995, she opened for guitarist Charlie Byrd, and in 1999 she gave a solo performance at Vancouver's Du Maurier Jazz Festival. This city was also the site for her first album, Some Other Time, which was cut in February of 1997 and released in October of 1999. Working with some very good Canadian jazz players, the album showcases Jantzen's winsome ways with those songs that are milestones in the Great American Popular Songbook. Now back in Portland, Amandah Jantzen has a steady gig at the Doubltetree Hotel, where she sings and accompanies herself at the piano. Her album Devil May Care was released in 2001.
Jazz figures who Jantzen has looked to for inspiration include Shirley Horn and Diana Krall, not only because each excels as a vocalist but also because they have been able to combine their singing prowess with significant skills at the piano, becoming complete jazz artists. Judging from her accomplishments so far and her talent, Amandah Jantzen is well on the way to achieving similar notoriety.