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    Nora McCarthy
    Artist Views: 29824
    City of Birth: Cleveland, OH
    Current Residence: Peekskill, NY
    Played With: Butch Morris, Jorge Sylvester, Dominic Duval, Brian Willson, Santi Debriano, John diMartino, Lewis Porter, Neil Alexander, Bob Meyer, Neal Creque, Ace Carter, Gene Jackson, Bruce Cox, Jeff Carney, David Silliman, Frank Lacey, Juini Booth, James Weidman, Andy McCloud, Pablo Vergara, and many others.
    Instruments: VOICE, Pedals, Piano
    Other Activities: Founder of The Zen Of Singing...the Spiritual Path To Finding Your Voice. Teaching, Performing, Composing, Assistant to Conductor Butch Morris and Featured Member Of
    Website: www.noramc@noramccarthy.com

    NORA McCARTHY is a singer and vocal improviser, composer, educator, actor, lyricist and poet. She lives in New York City and is a prominent member of the New York Jazz Community. She and her various groups work at the top jazz venues in New York and elsewhere in the world. "McCarthy's musical roots are vast and varied, crossing cultures and genres - from the Great American song book to contemporary modern jazz and bebop, early rhythm and blues, funk music, Caribbean and Brazilian music and in recent years she's embraced - and been embraced by - 'the avant-garde'." Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz, 8/2005.

    "Complete Passion! Absolute Creativity! Total Confidence!" ... Niranjan Jhaveri (10/06.) Mr. Jhaveri is a jazz critic, author, lecturer, educator, panelist and organizer (director) of JazzYatra Festivals (since 1978) and Founder of Jazz India Vocal Institute (JIVI).

    ***** A multi-faceted artist, Nora McCarthy works in many capacities and formats. The following groups are all projects Ms. McCarthy currently leads and co-leads.


    The Nora McCarthy Qu'ART'et - an organic jazz group that crosses cultures, concepts and genres with a spontaneous modern approach. Drawing from many sources, their enlivening repertoire is a diverse combination of original compositions, contemporary jazz, classic jazz, Latin music; and, on-the-spot improvisations and tone poems that delivers a very compelling performance. Members include: James Weidman and Pablo Vergara, piano; Robert Ferrazza – guitar, Santi Debriano, Jeffrey Carney and Andy McCloud, bass; and, Bob Meyer, Derrekk Phillips, Bruce Cox and David Silliman, drums/percussion and are listed among the most innovative improvisers in the world. Featured guest artist alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester and McCarthy have a symbiotic chemistry that is enthralling.

    A Small Dream In Red - Voice and Saxophone Duet, respectively: Nora McCarthy and Jorge Sylvester, acknowledges a deep affinity to Wassily Kandinsky - the artistic pioneer whose quintessential goal was to achieve the unique immediacy of music in abstract visual form. Incredibly, Nora and Jorge have achieved, in their duo performances, an innovative form of musical expression comparable in impact to Kandinsky's paintings, wherein each work reveals a self-contained world of content, form, improvisation, and - above all - balance.

    In April, 2007, A Small Dream In Red performed in concert and conducted a series of workshops and master classes in Podgorica, Montenegro for Jazz Appreciation Month entitled “From Dixieland to the Avant Garde and Free Music Art Forms – “The Voices and Horns”.

    The ConceptualMotion Orchestra - A creative orchestra of 20 stellar musicians from New York City and around the world is co-led by Nora McCarthy and Jorge Sylvester. This eclectic group masterfully interprets the original compositions and arrangements of Sylvester and McCarthy. Conducted by Jorge Sylvester, the music challenges traditional formulas that are often subscribed to by other large ensembles. The music and arrangements apply an open and harmonically unpredictable perspective to composition, layering various textures across a network of rhythmic lines. The innovative and daring concepts that drive the music utilize a full spectrum of colors (sounds), textures (instruments) and movement (rhythms) to create a tangible image. They perform a mixture of obtuse compositional structures, open form blues and Afro-Caribbean-charged rhythmic pieces within a free collective expression that includes poetry.

    In June, 2005, The ConceptualMotion Orchestra (CMO) opened the highly acclaimed avant-garde Vision Festival X at the Angel Orensanz Center in the East Village, NYC. The orchestra provides an excellent platform for McCarthy to present her ever increasing body of compositions and poetry that convey a spiritually positive and uplifting message to the world. CMO is quickly gaining recognition as one of the freshest and inspiring large ensembles to emerge on the creative music scene in quite some time.

    The Beyond Words Voice and Bass Duo/Nora McCarthy and Dominic Duval - takes an intuitively simplistic look into the jazz standard and classic favorites. Blending in a touch of the avant garde they experiment by applying new dimensions to the familiar. New Yorker Dominic Duval is one of the finest and most prolific bassists on the contemporary scene, having played and recorded with some of the greatest names in jazz and new music. Duval's continuing tenure with pianist Cecil Taylor's trio has cemented his reputation as one of contemporary music's more important figures. Duval is comfortable and can be seen performing in any number of genres, including modern classical, jazz or music which defies classification.

    The Red Vox Group - This innovative group of improvisers is all about SOUND - no labels, no substitutions, no definitions, uncategorized. Totally free in spirit and concept McCarthy employs the use of technology to broaden her pallet of colors adding much electricity to the excitement of the moment


    In 1996 McCarthy released her first cd entitled, red&blue, written and arranged in the post-bop tradition of the early Blue Note recordings. The music is a mixture of McCarthy's original compositions (7 out of 9) and two standards - personnel includes: John diMartino - piano, Essiet Okon Essiet - bass, Alvester Garnett- drums, Mike Lee - tenor saxophone, and Sato Takeishi - percussion.

    Ms. McCarthy's second cd entitled: A Small Dream In Red, titled after her voice and saxophone duet with alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester, (Sundown, 2005), is a live recording captured at Cleveland State University's Drinko Hall and beautifully demonstrates the unique symbiosis between the two artists as well as Nora's virtuosity as a musician of the highest order and showcases her ability to "play with the known and the unknown elements of jazz." Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz, New York.

    Her most recent offering, Life Is A Song To Sing, aptly named after McCarthy's 1998 composition and anthem, is due for release in 2007. It features many of Nora's original compositions and other obscure material that have significant meaning to the singer and the turbulent times we are living in with spiritual and philosophical overtones.


    Performing and leading her own groups since 1982, McCarthy moved to New York City in 1994 from Cleveland, Ohio. Nora has performed at the top jazz venues in New York and has been a steady fixture on the New York music scene since her arrival. In the recent past, Nora performed extensively in duo with renowned bassist Juini Booth who worked with many luminaries from Art Blakey to Sun Ra to McCoy Tyner to name a few. Nora now carries on the bass and voice tradition with the remarkable Dominic Duval who is well know for his work with Cecil Taylor among others and his own group Trio X with Joe McPhee and Jay Rosen.

    In March, 2000, Nora returned to her early musical roots and toured briefly with the rhythm and blues legend Wilson Pickett as a member of his band the Midnight Movers.

    Also in 2000, Nora performed weekly with trombonist Kuumba Frank Lacy's Vibe Tribe at the Jazz Gallery in New York. At this time, she began a musical collaboration with alto-saxophonist, composer, conductor Jorge Sylvester and became the featured vocalist in his and tenor saxophonist Benny Russell's Next Legacy Jazz Orchestra - a big band of incredible magnitude that was originally founded by tenor saxophonist, David Murray. With this orchestra, Nora had the honor of performing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and the Albany Jazz Festival before going on to establish her own 20-piece orchestra with Jorge Sylvester, The ConceptualMotion Orchestra.


    Nora works frequently at The Cornelia Street Cafe - a well known jazz establishment in the Village and Tribes Gallery whose founder Poet/Professor Steve Cannon is revered for his tremendous contribution to the Lower East Side's creative community. Nora is also currently working closely with Master Conductor, Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris and assists him with "A Chorus of Poets". They perform in various creative venues throughout New York City including the Brecht Forum, Tribes Gallery and The Living Theatre. Writing poetry since 1976, Nora began spoken word in 2000 to deliver the message and the concepts behind the compositions written by her and Sylvester for their various joint projects. Nora's ever increasing need to expand her own musical consciousness and convey a spiritual awareness through the music is her creative motivation and inspiration.

    McCarthy began writing lyrics in the early '80s and has penned lyrics to songs written by J.J. Johnson, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Denny Zeitlin, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Jorge Sylvester and Lucian Ban.

    Recently, McCarthy took her literary and performance abilities to the stage and realized a long held dream - acting. Nora is associated with AIDA (Australian Institute of Dramatic Arts) and studies with renowned stage actor Robyn Lee and privately with Paul Parker, its founder. Nora has recently been cast in a supporting role in an independent film written and directed by local New York filmmaker/actor/director Jameel Hobbins.


    Many of McCarthy's compositions and poems embody the history of jazz and she has written poetry and extended compositions for several of the masters of the music namely: Charlie Parker, Jeanne Lee, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy; Billie Holiday (Billie), Miles Davis (Miles' Mind), Sonny Rollins (Into The Middle of Something), Grover Washington (Grover's Groove), and her most recent masterpiece, (Faith In Time - aka, Jimmy's Song), a tribute to Little Jimmy Scott and titled after the name of his autobiography published in 2002. These works document the creative and historical significance of each artist and their contributions to Jazz music. Through lecture and performance McCarthy presents an informative and memorable presentation. .

    Through her vast experience in the jazz and creative music field, McCarthy conducts various workshops and classes in vocal empowerment. Nora has developed a unique approach to teaching voice and improvisation and is founder of "The Zen Of Singing...The Spiritual Path To Finding Your Voice". A book by the same name is forthcoming. (www.thezenofsinging.com)


    McCarthy is a consummate musician and artist; hers is an instrument that doesn't subscribe to cliche. Her seasoned virtuosity and articulation reflect the years she has spent in developing her unique concepts for singing. As an innovator in the expressionist style, her voice is wrought with emotion. McCarthy's vast repertoire and innate sense of harmony combined with her understanding of sound, abstract form and design makes her a leader in vocal improvisation today. Jorge Sylvester refers to Nora as his "secret weapon"; Kuumba Frank Lacy called her "the greatest atonal singer in the world"; and, Juini Booth referred to her as his "orchestra". Nora is an outstanding communicator who immediately captures your interest and takes you on a musical journey. Her soulful sound is rich and experienced. Her broad range allows her free reign when improvising as she navigates her instrument through complex compositions with ease. From singing the bass lines, trumpet, saxophone, and trombone lines to primal screaming, she is always, stretching the creative envelope and reaching beyond the limitations imposed on singers, challenging her instrument, constructing and deconstructing the form, exploring the song within the song and getting everything out of the moment.

    Artist Comments

    I have several projects that I produce and several that I co-lead with alto-saxophonist Jorge Sylvester. They are respectively: The Qu'ART'et - in the classic tradition of - piano, bass, drums and voice with an innovative approach that includes spoken word and on-the-spot improvisations - a mixture of the old with the new - original compositions with classically contemporary jazz standards and collected favorites from everywhere; The Sidhe - People of Peace, a collaboration of musical, visual artists, poets & actors dedicated to the advancement of creative music and the human race; RED VOXX - the familiar, the unfamiliar and the unlimited voice, sax, bass & drums; the ConceptualMotion Orchestra, is a 20-piece all original music orchestra that also includes spoken word with a serious focus on creating a human collective consciousness of sound; A Small Dream In Red - an avant garde, expressionist voice and saxophone duet in keeping with the concepts of Wassily Kandinsky and extending into creating a new genre of creative and improvised music; and, the ACE Collective - Afro-Caribbean-Experimental Sextet - based off of the piano-less trio expanded to include various textures of sound within the Afro-Caribbean idiom and beyond. My latest project is MusicPoetica, a performance workshop that focuses on the history of jazz and creative music art forms through song, poetry, sound, improvisation and composition.

    I also teach a course for singers that I developed called the "Zen of Singing .. the Spiritual Path to Finding Your Voice" (www.thezenofsinging.com) that deals with the art of singing, removing creative blocks and issues relating to improvisation.

    My music is about change. My concepts are about evolution and healing. I am a vocal artist, composer and poet that doesn't believe in imitations or limitations. My musical experiences are many and have led me on a journey through the Great American Songbook, R&B Music, Funk Music, Straight-Ahead Jazz, Classic and Contemporary Jazz, World Music to the Avant Garde and Free, Experimental Music genres and Beyond. It's the "Beyond" - the Unknown element in life and living, performing, experimenting and creating, that keeps me both fascinated and humbled.

    Artist Tracks
    Miles Mind
    Something Red
    In The Early Morning Light
    Life Is A Song To Sing
    Akara Moi Moi
    Steve Coleman
    Oliver Lake
    Lewis Porter
    Jamaaladeen Tacuma