Taking Jazz Easy

Published: January 18th 2010
in Culture » Music

Jazz vocalist Sophie Milman
Pic: Courtesy of Jason Wills
Sophie Milman
Pic: Courtesy of Jason Wills
Sophie Milman
Pic: Courtesy of Jason Wills

Renowned Toronto jazz vocalist Sophie Milman has thrilled audiences the world over with her unique voice and modern twist on jazz. Now, with her third album Take Love Easy, Milman is in uncharted territory, blending jazz standards with pop songs by the likes of Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen. Shalom Life recently caught up with Milman to find out her secret to taking love easy.


In late 2009 you took some time off to rest your voice. You're back on the road these days. How are you feeling?




I'm feeling great and sounding better than ever.


2010 looks to be a big year for you. Your album, Take Love Easy, is getting great reviews everywhere. What do you have planned for 2010?




Lots and lots of touring. I will be on tour in the US for much of January, February and March and then I head to Japan in April. This will be a busy touring year.


As a vocalist, how did you approach the songs on Take Love Easy? Was the mix of jazz standards and songs by artists like Springsteen, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon a conscious decision?




I have a deep emotional connection with each song on the album. The lyrics simply have to touch me in order for me to want to sing. Some songs are funny, some are deeply sad, others speak of the love that has been in my life for the last five years. Simply put, songs that are just nice or pretty rarely motivate me because I can't connect to their essence.


On Take Love Easy, I wanted to create a more rich, modern and textured sound, while remaining firmly planted in my understanding of jazz. Therefore, my selection of pop/rock covers, arranged in jazz is consistent with that. In the case of "I'm On Fire," we really turned the song on its head with the arrangement – the original is fast and urgent while our version is slow and aching. In our interpretation of Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," we stayed true to the original on the verses, but the choruses are done in a hyper energetic Afro-Cuban style highlighting the sarcasm inherent in the lyrics. These songs were worked on meticulously so that they would fit on the same album as "I Concentrate on You" and "Where Do Your Start." Jazz has become a melting pot of different genres and styles and when done right, it's awesome!


Do you go about singing a song by Bruce Springsteen differently than one by Duke Ellington? 




The songs simply bring out different parts of me. "Take Love Easy" highlights my humorous side, where I acknowledge my greatest weakness in life – my inability to take life easy. I am very hard on myself and my life so far has been a process of learning how to harness the self-criticism that helps me grow on one hand, and on the other hand, working to curb it in order to simply live better and freer.


"I'm on Fire" connects with my deeply passionate nature. Two slightly different facets of the same person.


When I prepare to tackle the song, I simply think about the lyrics, feel what they conjure up in me and sing. I like to keep my approach natural this way.


How did your childhood years in Israel influence your music?




Related articles: (music, jazz, sophie milman, take love easy)

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