Veronica Nunn On Piano Jazz

Veronica Nunn.

Veronica Nunn. Wyatt Counts/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Wyatt Counts/Courtesy of the artist

Set List

  • "One Note Samba" (Jobim)
  • "American Lullaby/Not While I'm Around" (G. Rich/Sondheim)
  • "They Can't Take That Away From Me" (G. & I. Gershwin)
  • "Castles in the Sand" (McPartland)
  • "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face" (Lerner, Loewe)
  • "Gone With the Wind" (Magidson, Wrubel)
  • "In the Days of Our Love" (McPartland)
  • "I'm Old Fashioned" (Kern, Mercer)
  • "Doxy" (Rollins)

Veronica Nunn was born on Oct. 7, 1957, in Little Rock, Ark. As a kid, Nunn heard all sorts of music, thanks in part to her mother's eclectic tastes. She also got a good dose of jazz from her father, who played jazz trumpet. Nunn began singing and performing at age 9, and some of her early performances included events for then-Gov. Bill Clinton.

As a teenager, Nunn found work in Little Rock's jazz clubs alongside pianist Art Porter. She moved to New York in 1978 to pursue her jazz career and began spending her evenings singing in jam sessions and sitting in at jazz clubs from Harlem to Greenwich Village. During a gig at a Village jazz spot, Sweet Basil, Nunn met bandleader and tenor sax player George Walker, a.k.a. Big Nick Nicholas. The former mentor to John Coltrane became an important figure in Nunn's life, introducing her to jazz heavyweights such as trombonist and guitarist Eddie Durham, vibes player Red Norvo and pianist Roger "Ram" Ramirez. Nunn soon started gigging with veterans like trumpeter Doc Cheatham and tenor saxophonist Eddie Chamblee. She was offered full scholarships to the Berklee College of Music in Boston and Juilliard in New York, but instead attended Lehman College in the Bronx, studying theology while she continued to gig on the New York scene.

Nunn's most important musical partner is her husband, pianist Travis Shook. The two met at a jam session at the Iridium jazz club and hit it off both musically and personally. They were married in 1997, and together launched their own record label, Dead Horse Records. Nunn's releases on the label include American Lullaby, Standard Delivery and her 2010 album The Art of Michael Franks.

On this 2007 episode of Piano Jazz, Nunn and Shook join host Marian McPartland for a set of mostly standards, including tunes by George and Ira Gershwin, Lerner and Loewe, and Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer.

The couple kicks off the session with a high-energy interpretation of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "One Note Samba" and follows with a seamless medley of "American Lullaby" — a little-known tune from the 1930s — and "Not While I'm Around" from the Broadway musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

"That really makes a perfect pair," McPartland says.

The session continues in a stage-and-screen mood, as McPartland accompanies Nunn on "They Can't Take That Away From Me" from the 1937 movie musical comedy Shall We Dance, and on "I've Grown Accustomed to [His] Face," with Nunn's phrasing recalling a mellow trumpet.

McPartland performs a solo of her haunting tune "In the Days of Our Love," written in collaboration with another fine lady of song, Peggy Lee.

This installment of Piano Jazz comes to a close with a laidback take on the Sonny Rollins tune "Doxy," which first appeared on the 1954 Miles Davis album Bags' Groove. Nunn performs the playful lyric, which was penned by Mark Murphy, about a "wild and foxy" namesake drifter.

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Album
Standard Delivery
Artist
Veronica Nunn
Label
Dead Horse
Released
2007

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