Voices: Album Release Show & Backstory

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Betsy Ezell will present and celebrate the release of her debut full length album, Voices, on Friday, January 25 at North Street Cabaret. The Betsy Ezell Quintet will perform the original compositions and arrangements from the album, well known standards, personal favorites written by women jazz artists and more.

The quintet features Betsy Ezell on vocals, Becca May Grant on keys, Richard Hildner on guitars, Laurie Lang on bass and will welcome Chris Sandoval on drums for the album release. John Becker, an extraordinarily talented local multi-instrumentalist and composer, will play vibes as a special guest for the evening.

The Betsy Ezell Quintet presents a diverse sound, ranging from straight ahead jazz, to blues, to Latin jazz, to gospel-infused soul. The original music is hopeful and thought-provoking and the band members bring a wide range of musical backgrounds to give the live performances compelling twists and turns.

Many of the original songs from Voices were composed in 2018 as part of a writing and recording project called Feminine Blue, supported in part by an Artistic Development Grant from the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium. The project explored women’s perspectives and unique voice in jazz, as well as broader cultural themes like the #metoo movement. The music was composed collaboratively, with the writing led by Ezell and edits, additions, input and support by Lang and Grant, which was an intentional and more feminine way of creating.

New York-based, prolific jazz artists Roberta Piket (piano/organ) and Virginia Mayhew (sax) guest performed on two tracks on the album. Piket was named Rising Star for Organ in Downbeat Magazine’s 2018 International Critics Poll.

Ezell grew to love jazz in college while studying under Gabriel Espinosa at Central College in Iowa. She began performing in Madison only four years ago.

“Last year was tremendously productive and I’m sort of shocked to have written, recorded and actually finish an album in that time. I’m proud of the music and the themes of the record, and I couldn’t ask for a better band to make music with,” says Ezell. “As a working mom, music is definitely secondary. You’ll find us performing every two or three months, and that the pace is just fine…for now.”