Over the past decade, jazz vocalist Katy Miner has appeared in multiple settings throughout the region. Whether intimately in a jazz trio, jazz festivals, cabaret big band, musical theatre, or with the BPO, Miner has given audiences memorable performances. Becoming in the minds of many jazz fans and musical theatre audiences one of their favorite jazz vocalists. Miner is as diverse as the many venues she has performed. Delving into jazz, pop, musical theater, tributes to jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, and studying the intricacies of the Great American Songbook.
And, if you listen carefully, you may hear her in some of the region’s television commercials.
Impressively, Katy Miner has performed several times with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Most recently, this past October in a special BPO On-Demand performance with Lawrence Loh and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in “That Studio Sound: Jazz Classics for Lovers.” She was also the featured vocalist for both the 2018 holiday community concerts and 2017’s John Morris Russell’s Holiday Pops concert, and also performed in concert versions of 2010’s The Music Man (Alma Hix) and 2007’s West Side Story (Rosalia).
It has been a pleasure to get to know Katy through performances, JazzBuffalo community outreach programs, and conversations over the past decade. A real delight in the jazz community.
On Friday, February 12, Katy is set to release an original single entitled, Bittersweet. Which will also feature Buffalo sax master Bobby Militello. This was as a good a time to catch up with her to get the inside story on this special project.
TZ: It has been a long year of the COVID-19 pandemic. What has this meant to you musically and how have you adjusted? What was it like to do a virtual BPO On-demand?
KM: It’s been quite a crazy year, hasn’t it? I’ve been fortunate to not be affected financially, but musically, yes, everything has come to a crawl. I sing in church, and at first that was completely stopped, but little by little they’ve been adding music back into service. Sometimes it’s pre-recorded, but lately it’s just a single vocalist, the organist, and the reverend streaming on Zoom. Because I can record at home, I was utilized quite frequently throughout the year. I was also in the middle of arranging a vocal trio for a tribute to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross when the pandemic hit. The show was for me, the amazing Lorenzo Parnell and a fabulous newcomer, Jack Kreuzer. It was to be performed at Sportsmen’s close to Annie Ross’ 90th birthday in July, and of course she passed away shortly before that this past year which was very sad. Hopefully once things are back to normal, we can put this show together!
The BPO performance was quite the whirlwind. Alison Bolton called me over the summer to ask about my availability to do some sort of jazz show with a scaled-down orchestra. And I’m like, of course, what else am I doing, right?!? Everything was up in the air as rules and regulations seemed to change weekly if not daily. So, we had to just go with it. We were tested a few days before, had a couple of rehearsals, and were completely masked the whole time until we filmed it. John Morris Russell was unable to do the show because of the two-week quarantine requirement for those from outside of NYS, so Larry Loh came in from Syracuse to cover conducting duties and was really great. Sal Andolina was also supposed to be featured in that concert too but had a slight back injury and had to cancel last minute, so both Chris Vasquez and I were scrambling to add another song into our set lists to fill out the show. Of course, I added Annie Ross’ “Twisted.“
It was unusual to sing to an empty Kleinhans Music Hall. The pressure was still there because you always want to give a flawless as possible performance in front of the orchestra, but not as many jitters because there was no audience.
TZ: You are getting ready to launch a new single/project. What is the story behind Bittersweet? What is it that you hoping to express through this song?
KM: I am very excited to have music available now. It’s been so long since I recorded as a solo artist – over 15 years. I actually wrote the song a couple of years ago loosely based on a personal experience, and even performed it a few times – once at CMC, once with a big band, and once with the Clarence Summer Orchestra. I really wanted to record this one because it came out so nice, but I wanted to rework the lyrics a bit because the story in the song was too sad. So, I spent some time doing rewrites, and am happy to see the story become more relatable. It’s about falling in love but hoping and waiting for the object of your affection to make the first move – like a love song for introverts…lol.
TZ: You feature Bobby Militello on this single. How did this collaboration come about? What was it like to record with Bobby?
KM: The song was written to have a flute solo, and who better to go to than Bobby. I met Bobby when he played for a fundraiser I put together back in 2014. It was a tribute to the late cabaret singer, Nancy LaMott. My friend and local legend, Mary Kate O’Connell put me in touch with Bobby, and it turned into a fabulous night of music at Pausa Art House. We got along right away. Once I started singing jazz around town, Bobby asked me to sing at The Bijou in downtown Buffalo for his series. Recording with Bobby went just as I expected – friendly and with ease.
TZ: I also noticed you had the superlative Tim Clarke on trumpet on this track. What was that like? Also, where was it recorded?
KM: The arrangement is originally suited for jazz orchestra, and while most of the instrumentation is sampled, I did bring in Tim Clarke on flugelhorn to give it more of a live vibe. Tim just knocked it out of the park! He’s just fantastic and adds so much to the song. Everything was recorded at Starfields Productions with Alan Dusel engineering. I worked with Alan once before for the SugarKattyCool recording. He did a great job juggling all those instrument samples from the numerous midi tracks. I’m sure we’ll work together again.
TZ: What is in store for us after the single is released? Will you be recording more songs for an EP?
KM: Back in June I was asked to record myself at home for a televised teacher’s award show. And I thought to myself, “How am I going to pull this off?” So, I went online looking for someone with a catalog of original instrumental arrangements of songs that I could record over. I found someone based in the UK and really liked his style. The timing seemed right to do a new recording project. It’s in the works, but nothing to report yet.
TZ: With the vaccines rolling out, how hopeful are you about performing before an audience?
KM: I am still reluctant to perform, even with a small audience. It’s still too risky – not just for me, but for those in attendance. I would feel so guilty if anyone were to get sick from being at my show. So, in the meantime I record. I count myself lucky to be able to do so. Once vaccines have been distributed widely, and we see things getting back to normal, I’ll be out there. And I’m looking forward to it.
The new single that releases on Friday, February 12th will be a sweet moment as opposed to a bittersweet one. For we once again, can get to hear Katy Miner. The song has a jazz-pop feel that is sure to be a good listen for jazz vocalists and Katy Miner fans. Check it out:
You can hear Miner’s new single in its full version through the streaming platforms of Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Music. Visit this link to get all the links:
Keep an eye out for the release on Friday, February 12. An excellent chance to support one of the region’s favorite jazz vocalists.