With Special Guest Kim Nalley
Tammy Lynne Hall began playing the piano at age four, in Dallas, Texas, where she was raised by two grandmothers, a grandfather and numerous aunts and uncles. Her earliest memories of the piano were of climbing onto the piano bench and pick out the notes to tunes she heard either on the radio, record player or something the choir sang at church. Later, Tammy became the pianist not just for the Junior Choir at her home church but also the pianist and organist for her godfather’s church in Terrell, Texas, some 40 miles away and she was sometimes the rehearsal accompanist for her school choir from sixth grade at Pearl C. Anderson Junior High to her senior year at the Hockaday School.
It became evident that music had chosen Tammy to walk its path. Giving full support for this journey were Tammy’s two grandmothers, who pooled their resources to make sure she had access to private lessons from age eight to 18. Tammy participated in juried recitals, resulting in her winning several awards and honorable recognition in regional and national recitals and competitions. Because of her talent and impeccable academic record, Tammy was encouraged to apply and was accepted to the Hockaday School, where she attended on an academic and musical scholarship, which also led to her attending the prestigious and progressive Mills College in Oakland, Calif. from 1979 to 1981. Tammy’s grandfather also contributed to her musical journey by showing films of the greats Fats Waller, Dorothy Donegan, Hazel Scott, Duke Ellington and Count Basie; he was one of the first black projectionists in the country and regularly showed films in his home and at public school auditoriums and churches for the community. These films along with the music she heard on the radio, at church, and the r&b, soul and pop records of the time, even the incidental and theme music she heard on television, all influenced Tammy’s playing. These early experiences would form the triad of Tammy’s core sound: a fusion of jazz, Gospel and classical.
In pursuit of developing her own voice and the experiences of a ‘jazz’ life, Tammy left Mills College and gained more improvisational and accompanying experience sitting in with local bands in the Bay Area when visit to Brussels turned into a two-year stay. During this time Tammy along with saxophonist Dr. Josylyn Segal, formed the quintet Touche Differente (Different Touch), playing in venues and festivals including the Brussels Jazz Club and the North Sea Jazz Festival, Antwerp, France, Holland and Ibiza, as well as performing and recording with the late saxophonist Noah Howard.
Since returning to the Bay Area in 1989, Tammy has with worked award-winning cabaret singer and actress, Connie Champagne, the Supreme Mary Wilson, chanteuse and actress Debbie De Coudreaux, the Montclair Women’s Big Band, Houston Person, the late David “Fathead” Newman, jazz violinists Regina Carter, Jeremy Cohen, Mads Tolling, orchestra leader and bassist Marcus Shelby, guitarist Terrence Brewer, vocalists Kim Nalley, Denise Perrier, Pamela Rose, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Holly Near, Lynne Asher, Melba Moore, Miki Howard, Rhonda Benin, Darlene Love, Lady Mem’fis, Veronica Klaus, Diane Witherspoon, Queen Esther Marrow, Ernestine Anderson, Derek Lassiter, Frankye Kelley, Nicolas Bearde, Kenny Washington, Lisa Ferraro Erika Luckett, Karen Drucker, and the late Etta Jones.
Tammy’s continued involvement with her musical and cultural community include working as an instructor (faculty)/mentor, with a number of non-profit arts organizations making music and theatre accessible to under-funded inner city children and well known and funded organizations such as Adventures In Music (AIM), under the auspices of the San Francisco Symphony in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District; the Handful Players Children’s Theatre (San Francisco public schools/Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco); the Drew School (San Francisco); Jazz Camp for Girls at the Jazz School (Berkeley); the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music; Alameda Unified School District; Stanford Jazz Workshop; Zellerbach Foundation; Yoshi’s; the Jazz & Heritage Center of San Francisco, and most recently, Musically Minded Academy in Oakland, and the Narada Michael Walden Foundation.
Tammy has also accompanied the Porter College Gospel Choir at University of California, Santa Cruz as well as the Inner Light Ministries Choir in Soquel, California, both under the direction of Valerie Joi Fiddmont and shares a Music Ministry with the Centers for Spiritual throughout the Bay Area and California.
She has traveled and performed extensively in Japan, Europe and Mexico, including a 30-city tour with Queen Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers throughout Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Other venues and festivals of note include Kennedy Center (Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival), Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, Sala Filharmonica (Trento, ITALY), Herbst Theatre, Monterey Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, SFJAZZ Center, Yoshi's (Oakland and San Francisco); and Kuumbwa Jazz in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Awarded "Most Influential African American in the Bay Area" in 2005 and "Best Jazz Group" in 2013, vocalist Kim Nalley is already being called "legendary" and "San Francisco institution." No trip to San Francisco is complete without seeing Kim Nalley perform. With an international reputation as one of world's best jazz & blues vocalists, she has graced concert halls from Moscow to Lincoln Center. A true Renaissance woman, Kim Nalley has also been a featured writer for JazzWest and SF Chronicle's City Brights, shortlisted for a Grammy nomination, a produced playwright, a former jazz club owner, an accomplished stage actress, a Ph.D. candidate in history at UC Berkeley, and an avid lindy hop & blues dancer. Her many philanthropic endeavors include founding the Kim Nalley Black Youth Jazz Scholarship.
In looks, Kim Nalley exudes the aura of a diva from a by-gone era. Vocally, she has pipes to burn packing a 3 1/2 octave range that can go from operatic to gritty blues on a dime, projection that can whisper a ballad yet is capable of filling a room with no microphone, and the ability to scat blistering solos without ever losing the crowd's interest or the intense swing. She has been compared to all the greats, but in the end, it's Kim Nalley and no one else - an unforced instrument with clarity and jazzy musicality, effortlessly delivered, and a sense of humor to boot.
A born singer from a family that boasts several generations of jazz musicians, Nalley was taught piano by her great-grandmother and studied classical music and theatre in high school before relocating to San Francisco in the footsteps of the Grateful Dead. Working her way through college by singing in small dives and jam sessions, Nalley learned all of the intricacies of jazz the old-fashioned way. Music critic Phil Elwood and San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas quickly discovered Kim Nalley and brought her to national attention after they noticed her singing nightly at the Alta Plaza to packed audiences - without amplification. Tilson Thomas hired Kim Nalley to sing a program of Gershwin with the San Francisco Symphony and recorded her farewell concert at the Alta Plaza.
Since then, Kim Nalley has performed globally, including major jazz festivals such as Monterey, Umbria Jazz and Lincoln Center and lived in Europe for several years before returning to San Francisco to re-open the jazz club Jazz at Pearl's. During her tenure from 2003 to 2008, Nalley raised the club to iconic international acclaim as the owner and artistic director.
She has collaborated with artists such as Rhoda Scott, David "Fathead" Newman, Houston Person, James Williams, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. She has recorded several on both major and indie labels, including She Put A Spell On Me, which was short-listed for a 2006 Grammy Award, and Million Dollar Secret, which charted in the jazz Top 40.
Nalley often combines music and history to create historiographical concerts , including her award-winning "Ladies Sing the Blues," "She Put a Spell on Me: Tribute to Nina Simone," "Freedom's Song: Music of the Civil Rights Movement," musical director and curator for the Martin Luther King Institute's Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and The Heart of Lady Day, a Billie Holiday biopic. As a playwright she has written Ella: the American Dream, a bio-musical about Ella Fitzgerald which premiered in 2008. As an actress she portrayed Billie Holiday in the dramatic play Lady Day in Love, Blues Speak woman in Zora Neale Hurston's Spunk and has starred in Teatro Zinzanni as Madame Zinzanni, a role subsequently filled by Joan Baez and Sandra Reeves-Phillips.
Kim Nalley is on faculty at the California Jazz Conservatory. She is a Ph.D. candidate in UC Berkeley's history department with plans to write her dissertation on the Globalization of Jazz and Black Cultural Politics.