“A jazz singer of cool composure and artful subtlety” New York Times
“Her wit and easy swing” The New Yorker
“Consummate jazz phrasing” JazzTimes
“Superb vocalist “ Chicago Jazz Magazine
“She’ll appeal to Diana Krall fans, but is very much her own woman.” Times of London
“Stylish and cosmopolitan with a broad streak of lush life urbanity, Libby York has a sound that recalls, without any condescension or gratuitous nostalgia, Anita O’Day, Chris Connor and Sarah Vaughan.” DownBeat, ****Sunday in New York 4 stars
“Libby, you sing like an angel, don’t ever stop.” Jazz guitarist Russell Malone
Vocalist Libby York has garnered raves from the international jazz press for her performances and recordings, Blue Gardenia, Sunday in New York, Here With You and her latest release Memoir. She has enchanted audiences at venues such as The Kitano, Waldorf Astoria and Metropolitan Room New York City, Green Mill, Jazz Showcase, Winter’s Jazz Club Chicago, venues in Los Angeles, the Netherlands, Vancouver BC and Cafe Laurent, Paris.
It’s rare for Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker contributor and author (Paris To The Moon, Through The Children’s Gate), to write liner notes. But he was so taken by York’s voice and style that he offered to write them for York’s Here With You. Gopnik enthuses: “…the miracle of jazz singing as good as this, is that a voice’s encounter with words manages not only to produce the emotion the songwriters put in but add another new emotion of the singer’s own. Cool jazz singers Anita O’Day, Chris Connor, June Christy and Julie London are subtle influences on York, but her voice is unique, with a rich, warm tone not often found. She mentions Rosemary Clooney’s comment “I’m a singer of fine songs who works with jazz musicians” as resonating with her approach. In live performance she is a true jazz singer who improvises with her phrasing and swings hard. “The in-the-moment interaction with my band members is such joy!
Libby’s latest album Memoir demonstrates that she is an expressive vocalist who chooses to work with only the best: Warren Vache, cornet, Russell Malone, guitar, John DiMartino piano, Martin Wind, bass and Greg Sergo, drums. In a nod to the great Bing Crosby/ Bob Hope duets York teams with Vache on “Put it There, Pal” and a tender rendition of “Thanks For The Memory”, featuring guitarist Russell Malone. Her other recordings reveal her as an astute record producer, featuring the great Frank Wess on tenor sax, Renee Rosnes, piano, Todd Coolman bass, Billy Drummond, drums, and Howard Alden, guitar. They also demonstrate the timelessness of the songs that she chooses to record and her heartfelt storytelling.
Although York has been performing since 1980, her recording career did not come about overnight. Her early influences include singer/guitarist Frank D’Rone and the great June Christy’s “Something Cool” album. She left Chicago in the early 70s to major in political science at American University in Washington, DC and opened a restaurant, The Back Porch Cafe in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in 1974, which is still thriving. She spent most of the 80s and early 90s in New York where she was featured vocalist with Swing Street, an eight-piece big band, and was coached by the great Abbey Lincoln. She currently spends her time in Chicago, New York, Paris, and Key West.
In 1999, her debut album Blue Gardenia was released on the Southport label. This was followed in 2004 by her breakthrough recording Sunday in New York, a Blujazz release that boasted Renee Rosnes on piano and Count Basie alumni Frank Wess on tenor sax. The album received an abundance of rave reviews including 4 stars in DownBeat magazine. In JazzTimes, Christopher Loudon described Sunday in New York as “a delectable all-standards program” and praised York’s “tremendous Anita O’Day appeal” as well as her “bravura dexterity.” Jazz Review‘s John Gilbert called York “a master vocalist with a deep well of talent at her disposal,” and in All About Jazz, Dr. Judith Schlesinger asserted: “York is relaxed, subtle, and infinitely tender, especially on the ballads… you can hear the smile in her voice.” Sunday in New York’s liner notes were by the renowned Chicago-based jazz critic and radio personality, Neil Tesser, who wrote: “York finds the complicated emotional center of a lyric and sets it out with disarming simplicity.”
Libby’s recording career demonstrates that she a storyteller, singer, bandleader, record producer and label owner. “Sometimes,” York asserts, “being both the producer and the vocalist is very challenging, to say the least, but I like overseeing the sound, how we present these classic American Songbook gems. The music, and the audience, deserve no less.”