Vocalist Jill Seifers has come a long way from her moody and dark teen years. Today when she talks about her idols in the music industry, she's frequently animated and bubbly. When she talks about her own start in the jazz world and the jam sessions she attended, she laughs aloud at her own nervy attempts that got her booted from the stage. During her teen years in her hometown of Portland, OR, however, laughter was in short supply, and enthusiasm just wasn't there. Seifers was more serious than bubbly, and she had to deal with bouts of depression, a condition that other family members also suffered from. The offspring of an economist and a choral director, she became even more somber when her parents divorced. Rather than the uplifting sounds of someone like Ella Fitzgerald, she turned to the music of Joni Mitchell and the writings of Anaïs Nin and Karl Marx. Her taste in music changed thanks to a college course, where she heard the works of jazz artists that she'd never been exposed to before, such as Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. She also discovered Sarah Vaughan, thanks to her purchase of a cassette in a grocery store. These new sounds hooked her and she became determined to sing in a way that was similar to the sounds of a bop instrumental. She became a student of jazz at the Berklee School of Music in Boston and continued her education at New York's Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of singer Anne Marie Moss. During this period, Seifers was more interested in the music itself and improvisation rather than lyrics, which held no appeal for her. Her outlook changed, though, following the death of her father from AIDS. She returned to Oregon for his final days, and his passing left her emotionally distraught and unable to sing. That was when she came to understand the value of words and lyrics and she finally appreciated the elation of an Ella Fitzgerald song. Armed with this hard-won knowledge, she returned to New York and became a New School instructor of vocal jazz. She also appeared on-stage in the East Village, where she performed original folk material. One of her albums, Birdland Sessions, is a collaboration with pianist Michael Kanan, a transplanted Bostonian who also makes his home in New York.
The two blended their talents to present a collection of standards onto a recording that reflects Seifers' affinity for ballads. Among the CD's offerings are Alec Wilder and William Engvick's "Moon and Sand," which was written in 1941. The song list also includes two tunes that were first sung by Frank Sinatra early in his career, "Everything Happens to Me" and "The Night We Called It a Day," plus "It's the Talk of the Town," "How Long Has This Been Going On?" and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," among others.