Jane Blackstone

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Based in New York for most of her adult life, Jane Blackstone is a subtle yet swinging jazz vocalist/pianist whose influences range from Annie Ross and Sheila Jordan to Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan,…
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Based in New York for most of her adult life, Jane Blackstone is a subtle yet swinging jazz vocalist/pianist whose influences range from Annie Ross and Sheila Jordan to Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald. The late Betty Carter has also been cited as one of her influences, although Blackstone is much more accessible and isn't nearly as abstract. At times, Blackstone's phrasing has slight hints of Natalie Cole; but while Cole is a singer who started out in R&B and adult contemporary before turning to traditional pop and standards, Blackstone is very much a straight-ahead jazz vocalist. Also, Cole is more of a belter, whereas subtlety is one of Blackstone's trademarks. Blackstone can be a sensitive interpreter of lyrics, but she can also be an interesting scat singer.

Blackstone, who was born in the late '50s, is not a native New Yorker. Born in Concord, NH, Blackstone grew up in New England, where she started singing different styles of music as a pre-teen in the late '60s. In Boston, Blackstone led and sang lead for a local blues-rock band, but in the late '70s, she moved to New York and made jazz her main focus. On the Manhattan club scene, Blackstone led her own groups; but club gigs alone didn't pay the bills, and she pursued a variety of activities (which ranged from doing jingles and voice overs to providing background vocals for artists who included Gato Barbieri, Eumir Deodato, and Esther Phillips). In the early to mid-'80s, Blackstone was with a 12-piece ensemble called Western Hemisphere, and in 1984, she received an NEA grant to study acoustic piano with Joanne Brackeen. For several years, Blackstone was away from New York; she moved to Atlanta, GA, in the late '80s, but after touring Argentina in 1992, she return to the Big Apple. Blackstone's albums include Con/Tribution and Natural Habit/NYC, which was recorded in 2001 and released on the Motief label in May 2002.