Tiffany Austin

Tiffany Austin had performed on three continents: in her hometown Los Angeles, in London and Tokyo, before she decided to give up music when she was accepted at the University of California’s Boalt School of Law. The music bug didn’t leave her, so she continued her law studies and, one year later, enrolled on a full scholarship to the Jazzschool (now California Jazz Conservatory). Her unique singing style caught the attention of many young bandleaders in the San Francisco Bay Area, including bassist Marcus Shelby and Howard Wiley, tenor saxophonist. Austin did receive a Juris Doctorate, but instead of focusing on her first love, she decided to take the bar exam with her peers. Austin, a rising star in jazz singing with a traditional-rooted but modern style, is now making her debut CD, “Nothing But Soul”, on her Con Alma Music label. This album was the result of a November 2013 SFJAZZ Hotplate concert, in which Austin reimagined songs by American songwriter HoagyCarmichael. The recording was produced by Howard Wiley and Tiffany was joined by Ron Belcher, Sly Randolph and Glen Pearson. Glen Pearson is one of the most prolific and versatile pianists in the Bay Area. Nothing But Soul features six Carmichael songs: “Baltimore Oriole,” “Stardust,” and “Skylark”, as well as “Sing Me a Swing Song(And Let Me Dance )”. There are also two non-Carmichael arrangements, “Baltimore Oriole” being a remake of Lorez Alexandria’s recording. Austin also replaced the Latin-tinged rhythms with a soul-jazz boogaloo. Wiley composed three of them, giving “Stardust,” which is usually a ballad in a swinging pace, a slightly off-kilter rhythmic spin that Austin describes as a cross between Pharoah Sands and Q-Tip; and reconstructing Georgia with a J Dilla-style hip-hop groove and vocal harmonys by Austin and Wiley. Howard’s arrangements are a joy to listen to. They have musical inflections that range from swing-style to contemporary Robert Glasper-esque R.

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