© Andrea Canter
Curated by Jeff Whitmill for the past decade, Jazz @ St. Barney’s presents some of the area’s most popular jazz artists on its at least monthly series, sometimes in familiar, sometimes in new configurations. Pianist Laura Caviani and guitarist Chris Olson have played instrumental jazz together over the years, but recently have added their vocal talents as well, performing at the Black Dog and Jazz Central this winter. Now they bring their duo magic to St. Barnabas Lutheran Church on Saturday, February 25, 7 pm.
Raised in the Midwest where she studied trumpet as well as piano through high school, Laura Caviani received a Bachelor’s of Music in Composition from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and a Masters of Music in Improvisation from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Caviani is a veteran of nearly three decades of performing, recording and composing, including appearances with Toots Thielemans, Bob Mintzer, and Dave Liebman, and touring and recording with star vocalist Karrin Allyson. As a leader she now has five acclaimed recordings to her credit and a long list of supporting roles with local musicians. Projects include her tributes to Horace Silver, Mary Lou Williams and Thelonious Monk; Soul Café with guitarist Steve Blons and saxman Brad Holden; Pete Whitman’s Xtet; and her cross-genre Alec Wilder project. In spring 2011, she collaborated with Prudence Johnson, Joan Griffith and other area composers to create “A Girl Named Vincent,” setting the poems of a young Edna St. Vincent Millay to music for both live performance and recording. And more recently she has presented “From Bach to Bop” – jazz arrangements of favorite classical works– at a number of venues including the Artists Quarter, Hopkins Center for the Arts, and Jazz @St. Barneys. Laura made her formal debut as a vocalist a few months ago at Jazz Central.
Laura’s latest releases include Sambanova (with Joan Griffith), mostly original works drawing from the traditions of Brazil; another set of Brazilian influenced songs, Circle of the Dance; and a 2013 remake of a holiday album, Holly, Jolly and Jazzy with Gordy Johnson and Joe Pulice. Laura currently directs big bands at Carleton College in Northfield and teaches at MacPhail Center for Music, McNally Smith College of Music, and Shell Lakes Arts Center.
Chris Olson is a dedicated jazz educator as well as performer. Since earning a master’s degree in jazz studies/performance from the University of North Texas, he’s taught guitar, jazz history and improvisation as well as directing jazz ensembles at UW-Stevens Point (where he earned his undergraduate degree), Wausau Conservatory of Music, UW-Marathon County, and Inver Hills Community College. Currently on the guitar faculty at McNally/Smith College in St. Paul, he also teaches guitar lessons and jazz combos at the MacPhail Center for Music and summer programs at the Shell Lake (WI) Arts Center; he serves on the Board of the Minnesota Guitar Society. Chris has performed with Bob Mintzer, Louis Bellson, Terry Gibbs, Ira Sullivan, and Bobby Vinton, and has appeared frequently at the Black Dog, heading his monthly “Chris Olson Project” as well as performing in other ensembles such as Framework.
While both Laura and Chris are well-known instrumentalists, they both sing as well. “We go way back,” notes Laura “as we both started teaching at UW–Stevens Point 25 years ago!! We will both be singing and playing. This is a rare treat!” And it will be a treat as the duo plays and sings at St. Barneys on February 25.
Jazz @ St. Barneys takes place in the church art center at St. Barnabas Lutheran Church at 15600 Old Rockford Rd in Plymouth, 7 pm. Tickets at the door, $10 with snacks and beverages.