Delishious diva boldly vocal

The Toronto Star
January 2003
Geoff Chapman

Do you know Adreana Braun, the classical singer who graduated from the Royal Conservatory and U of T, sang (with brother Russell and relative Mel) in Opera Atelier's The Magic Flute, for Toronto Operetta Theatre, where she yodelled and emoted, frequently for the Canadian Opera Company (notably Mario And The Magician) and for the Classical Kids record series?

Possibly, if you're a fan of high-grade vocal work with assured confidence, superb diction, sharp timing and a theatrical flair for the dramatic.

Now's the time to meet Adi Braun, since the mid-'90s developing as a jazz singer with a bold vocal delivery crammed with character.

She demonstrates these virtues on her debut Blue Rider disc, Delishious, a dozen not-so-familiar tunes all bearing her signature versatile approach.

The material is as far-ranging as her voice, with a wild "Crazy From The Heat," a tricky "Lover Man" (quite unlike Billie Holiday's lament), where Braun shows seductive poise, the oddball "Moon-Faced, Starry-Eyed," intimate takes on standards ("Cry Me A River," "More Than You Know"), a gritty "Miss Celie's Blues" and a Motown-ish "Mr.Sandman."

There's first-rate instrumental support from pianist Doug Riley, guitarist Tony Quarrington, bass Steve Wallace and drummer Terry Clarke, and they'll be playing with her Saturday night at St. George-the-Martyr Church.

This then is not your typical jazz singer, which she promptly proves in an interview by noting that among her mentors are Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and Lotte Lenya which brings us to the C-word: cabaret, which she notes is as imprecise as jazz itself.

After her reach-for-the-top classical experiences, Braun decided to make a change.

"Three of us (with pianist Linda Ippolito and composer Brian McDonaugh) formed Blue Rider Productions, which mixed classical with composers like Kurt Weill and Gershwin.

"I always tried to sneak in jazzy numbers and I've always loved the `classic' pop of Streisand, Garland and Frank Sinatra when I was a teenager I even wrote my own pop songs."

Braun, who also teaches voice and piano in all genres, believes there's room for every vocal style within jazz.

"I've hidden this voice for 20 years and life had got to a point where it was now or never in my career, and I'm happy with my choice.

"I'd love to work with big bands and to try out areas where artists use their voice as an instrument, like Dee Dee Bridgewater.

"I'm also interested in doing something involving the work of (late French chanteuse) Edith Piaf. I believe my voice and my interpretations can take me to all of jazz, and there's no doubt my classical training has helped.

"Having to learn to sing with a mike was unexpected but I'm ready now to perform the type of music where I can be theatrical and jazzy and perhaps employ the spoken-word approach, like Lotte Lenya.

"I'd love to put together a swing band and perform in situations where my voice could stretch and I'd like to think some touring and travel will happen.

"My ideal is to be a musical storyteller, and jazz provides plenty of opportunity for that."

Braun is also scheduled to sing at The Rex on Jan. 12 and at the Montreal Bistro Feb. 17.