Based in Los Angeles since the mid-'70s, Barbara Reed is an expressive and soulful jazz singer/pianist who also writes fiction. Reed, whose vocal style has been affected by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson (among others), has never considered herself a jazz snob. Although she is a jazz artist first and foremost, she also has a healthy appreciation of rock and R&B and has stated that her taste in music ranges from Carmen McRae to Steve Winwood, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, and the Doobie Brothers. Reed, in fact, is quite capable of giving rock or R&B songs a jazz makeover. The improviser/novelist did not grow up in Tinseltown; she was born in Oak Park, IL (a suburb of Chicago), and lived in the Chicago area until she was ten. At that age, she moved to Rhode Island with her family and stayed there until she was accepted ...
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Artist Biography

by Alex Henderson

Based in Los Angeles since the mid-'70s, Barbara Reed is an expressive and soulful jazz singer/pianist who also writes fiction. Reed, whose vocal style has been affected by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson (among others), has never considered herself a jazz snob. Although she is a jazz artist first and foremost, she also has a healthy appreciation of rock and R&B and has stated that her taste in music ranges from Carmen McRae to Steve Winwood, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, and the Doobie Brothers. Reed, in fact, is quite capable of giving rock or R&B songs a jazz makeover. The improviser/novelist did not grow up in Tinseltown; she was born in Oak Park, IL (a suburb of Chicago), and lived in the Chicago area until she was ten. At that age, she moved to Rhode Island with her family and stayed there until she was accepted into the prestigious Berklee College of Music in nearby Boston. After graduating from Berklee, Reed briefly considered a move to New York but decided on L.A. instead for two reasons: she wanted to be closer to the film industry and she wanted to escape the Northeastern cold, snowy winters. So in 1975, she left Boston, moved to L.A., and became active in Southern California's jazz scene, not only as a singer, but also as an acoustic pianist and electric keyboardist. It wasn't until 1984, however, that Reed recorded her debut album, This Was Meant to Be. When she was recording that LP, Reed sought the advice of L.A. bassist Valerie Clemente, and Clemente referred her to John Anello Jr., a talented jazz guitarist and the president of Southern California's independent, jazz-oriented Cexton label. Anello, who is the son of veteran saxophonist/bandleader Doc Anello, was impressed with Reed's singing and ended up putting her album out. Unfortunately, Reed has only recorded sporadically over the years -- after This Was Meant to Be, she didn't record another album until the early 2000s. That was when she recorded the CD that accompanies her first novel, High Notes Are Murder (a murder mystery that has been distributed by Rare Sound Press). The book -- whose main character, Liz Hanlon is, like Reed, a singer and musician -- underscores Reed's appreciation of film noir and classic pulp fiction; her writing gives the impression that she is well-aware of tough-guy writers like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James Cain. And High Notes Are Murder takes place in L.A, which is where so much of the great film noir and pulp fiction of the '40s and '50s took place. The early 2000s found Reed pursuing two careers: fiction writer and jazz singer/pianist.