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Grace Kelly

Not to be confused with the famous Philadelphia-born actress who became Princess Grace of Monaco and died in 1982, the Grace Kelly profiled in this bio is a straight-ahead jazz saxophonist/singer who had several albums in her catalog before she was 17. The precocious New England native has made the alto sax her primarily instrument, but she also plays the tenor and soprano saxes -- and Kelly can play clarinet, flute, acoustic piano, and drums, as well. At times, Kelly will put down her saxophone and sing, although she is an instrumentalist first and foremost. Kelly has included original compositions in her repertoire along with jazz and Tin Pan Alley standards, but unlike a lot of straight-ahead jazz artists, she does not shy away from rock or R&B songs. Kelly has recorded her share of Beatles classics, and she has also provided jazz interpretations of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours." Charlie Parker, Jackie McLean, Phil Woods, Sonny Stitt, and Cannonball Adderley are among the saxophonist/singer's prominent influences on alto, whereas on tenor and soprano, one hears elements of Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, and Stan Getz in her playing. In fact, Kelly has been quoted as saying that hearing Getz (who her mother listened to frequently at home) was the thing that inspired her to take up the sax when she was a child.

The Asian-American improviser didn't always have the same name as the legendary actress; she was born Grace Chung in Wellesley, MA on May 15, 1992. Her biological parents are both Korean, but she ended up with an Irish last name after her mother remarried and she was legally adopted by her stepfather Robert Kelly. Her mother, Irene Chung Kelly, did a lot to encourage her interest in music; she began studying classical piano at the age of six and wrote a song titled "On My Way Home" when she was seven. Kelly studied the clarinet when she was in the fourth grade, but she switched to the saxophone -- and even though she was classically trained, jazz became her primary focus. Kelly went on to study jazz at the New England Conservatory Prep School and the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and one of her most famous teachers was veteran alto saxophonist Lee Konitz. She crossed paths with other major-league altoists as well, sitting in with Phil Woods and the late Frank Morgan when they played in New England. A music teacher who can take some of the credit for Kelly's early start as a recording artist is Ken Berman, who encouraged her to record an album when she hadn't quite reached adolescence; Kelly was 12 when she recorded her first album, Dreaming, and released it on her own label, Pazz Productions. Kelly's subsequent Pazz releases included Times Too (a two-CD set) in 2005, Every Road I Walked in 2006, Graceful-Lee (a date she co-led with Konitz) in 2008, and Mood Changes in 2009. Kelly turned 17 on May 15, 2009. ~ Alex Henderson
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Grace

1. Blessed Assurance

2. Wade In The Water (Bemsha Swing)

3. Fairest Lord Jesus

4. Ave Maria

5. I Surrender All

6. Sweet Hour Of Prayer

7. Amazing Grace

8. Gospel Medley

9. Grace Alone

10. Yes, Jesus Loves Me

11. Let There Be Peace On Earth

x

Track List: Every Road I Walked

1. Every Road I Walked

2. I'll Remember April

3. East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon)

4. Some Other Time

5. I Will

6. Nowhere To Run

7. 'round Midnight

8. Filosophical Flying Fish

9. Samba De Verao (So Nice)

10. Somewhere Over The Rainbow

11. Here's That Rainy Day

12. Finish Line

13. What If I Told You

14. Summertime

Comments

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Saw her at a jazz club last night and she was cute and awesome
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i lke da beat
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This is the way Sax should be played to warm my heart. I love her work.
Report as inappropriate
I saw her at a Jazz Fest in Lansing Michigan this past summer and I've bought 4 of her albums since. She is absolutely INCREDIBLE!! God truly blessed this gal with AMAZING talent. I Love Jazz & will continue to buy her albums :~)
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ellen.chaffe e
I heard Grace live in Chicago last week. Absolutely incredible! She plays, sings, writes, leads an outstanding quintet, the other four having plenty of solo talent, too.
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amazing clarity, simple phrasing, refreshing statements
Report as inappropriate
This chick is incredible. it's just not fair.

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