Vocalist Rosalie Genay teams up with pianist Frank Harrison for a duo performance tribute to Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart at Crazy Coqs on February 21st. Nicky Schrire interviewed her:
London Jazz News: I first heard your singing on your collaborative project with pianist Rebecca Nash. Have you worked in a duo format before, and what is it you enjoy about that context?
Rosalie Genay: I have been working together with guitarist Francesco Lo Castro for a couple of years and our album with original material will be out later this year.
I love collaborations as it is incredibly stimulating to work with a partner, bouncing off each others ideas, and conceive something altogether new and often quite special, as well as being a lot of fun too. The chemistry of a partnership has a large impact on the end result of the product.
LJN: Are there other piano/voice partnerships that have made an impact on you?
RG: I love the Irene Kral and Alan Broadbent albums, and Norma Winston and John Taylor as well as Emilia Martensson and Barry Green’s ‘And So It Goes’ (Babel Label, 2012).
LJN: You’re working with pianist Frank Harrison, known for his playing with Gilad Atzmon, but not necessarily well known for his work with vocalists. What led to you and Frank teaming up for this project?
RG: Frank is a fantastic pianist, sensitive and dynamic in whichever setting he plays. We were working together one evening and got talking about songs that we love but don’t get played often, realising that a lot of the tunes that came to mind were by Rodgers and Hart. They wrote beautiful melodies, and interesting musical ideas and well written lyrics that seem to have been created with a twinkle in the eye.
LJN: Many of the American Songbook composers (Lerner & Loewe, Kander and Ebb) were so prolific in their musical creations that several of their works have become lesser known and underplayed over time. The same is definitely true of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, which is what led you to delve into their songbook for this performance. Can you tell us more about your decision to feature their music and what it is you‘re specifically drawn to in their writing?
RG: Rodgers and Hart started working together when Rodgers was still in his teens and they worked till Hart’s death in 1943. Hart’s lyrics reflect a lot of his personality beyond the drink he was quite fond of; they are sophisticated, witty, wicked even at times. Then there are also darker undertones that one doesn’t always immediately perceive. Written almost a century ago but still on point. One can argue human nature doesn’t change that much. He strived to push the boundaries of lyric writing, and yet, created ‘natural’ lyrics. The music by Rodgers speaks for itself, really.