Julie started her musical career as a classical pianist, but in college she discovered that voice is her instrument. Julie studied composition at the University of New Hampshire with David Seiler and Mark Shilansky, and studied voice with Dominique Eade at the New England Conservatory.
"A Moment’s Glance," Julie’s first CD, shows just how much promise this vocalist has. I caught up with Julie just after she performed at the Jazz Standard in New York City.
JAZZREVIEW: Hello Julie, how did the gig go at the Jazz Standard?
JULIE HARDY: It went very well. They were happy. We filled the club for the first set, about 140 people, and had a good number of people for the second set. There was a television station from Connecticut there who recorded the show. I think they were a public access station, so it will be on TV. It was great. The band sounded amazing and the audience was really receptive and supportive, which is always nice.
JAZZREVIEW: Julie, are you originally from the New York area?
JULIE HARDY: I’m from New Hampshire. I was actually born in Massachusetts, moved to New Hampshire when I was in middle school, [and] I spent High School and Undergrad in Durham New Hampshire. I went to the University of New Hampshire there; I was there for about eight years.
JAZZREVIEW: Did You study music at New Hampshire University?
JULIE HARDY: Yes, composition and I started out as a classical pianist from about age nine. But when I got to college, I decided that voice was something that I wanted to do more. So I started singing classical. There is a jazz program at UNH, so I was able to get into that as well.
JAZZREVIEW: Who teaches at UNH?
JULIE HARDY: The Director is David Seiler. Also Mark Shilansky, for piano. He also teaches at Berklee...Les Harris, Jr. on drums and some other folks, but at the time I was studying with Chris Humphrey, who is this group called the Ritz. And, I did a lot of vocal jazz group stuff. During my last year, I directed the jazz choir.
JAZZREVIEW: What is the jazz choir?
JULIE HARDY: I think it is sort of more like an academic tool, to get young singers interested in jazz singing. Basically you get four parts; you arrange jazz songs for group singing and usually it is acapella or with a rhythm section. I don’t think that you can have a career as a professional jazz choir singer, but groups like the New York Voices come out.
JAZZREVIEW: I saw the New York Voices, four or five months ago, and they are unbelievable.
JULIE HARDY: Yeah, I know.
JAZZREVIEW: So what did you do after UHN?
JULIE HARDY: I went to the New England Conservatory for Grad School. That was in 1999. I studied voice with Dominique Eade. I also studied with John McNeil for improvisation. He’s a trumpet player.
JAZZREVIEW: Did you get to meet Ran Blake?
JULIE HARDY: Of Course! My pianist and boyfriend, Randy Ingram, assisted Ran for a year after he graduated. Randy was the assistant to the contemporary improvisation department, which Ran directs. Ran is a great guy. I saw him a couple of weeks ago.
JAZZREVIEW: He’s going to be 70 on April 20. I received an invitation to the party.
JULIE HARDY: Yeah, we’re actually going to be up there and Randy might perform.
JAZZREVIEW: What does Randy play?
JULIE HARDY: He plays piano. He is on my record, as well. He studied at NEC with Fred Hersh and Denilo Perez, and also Bob Brookmeyer.
JAZZREVIEW: I have spoken with Bob several times and I like to read his Currents on his Website.
JULIE HARDY: Yes, he is pretty amazing.
JAZZREVIEW: Could you describe your studies at NEC?
JULIE HARDY: Well, I studied with Dominique and she had studied with Dave Holland in the early nineties. So a lot of the stuff that he taught her, she passed on to me...a lot of rhythmic exercises. We focused on learning the modes and improvising, and just being an instrumentalist as well as a vocalist, really being able to be on the same level as an instrument. That is what Dominique taught me. You can see with the students listening on a Luciana Suza study with her as well. You can see her impact on vocalists who have studied with her.
JAZZREVIEW: I have listened to your CD, "A Moment’s Glance," which I enjoyed very much.
JULIE HARDY: Thank you. I recorded "A Moment’s Glance" for the Barcelona-based label, New Sounds Fresh Talent.
JAZZREVIEW: And I have heard segments of sound that are maybe a second or two long where you are making sounds that are like an alto or a tenor saxophone, with just this very round quality to your voice. Is this the result of study? How do you get a voice to sound that nice?
JULIE HARDY: I think it is being in touch with your voice and what your idea or concept of what your sound is going to be, or what you want. I think it involves a lot of listening to other vocalists and imitating them. A lot of that comes from Sarah Vaughn, the roundness. She has such a round, luscious sound. Also from listening to a lot of Wayne Shorter and learning his solos, like "Speak No Evil" and learning from instrumentalists as well. And also from doubling a lot of instrumentalists like the tenor saxophone. For example, on the album I double Rob Stillman and trying to match his sound has helped. To match his tambour and the vowel sound, it takes time. When I first got to NEC, I was not vocally aware. I am now. I had to work very hard, and I am still working on vocal technique in New York.
JAZZREVIEW: Do you have any interest in Vocalese?
JULIE HARDY: You mean with words?
JULIE HARDY: I did study a lot of that, especially in undergrad. I did a lot of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and Eddie Jefferson. I’m not as interested in it. I do learn other instrumentalist’s solos, but that is more to broaden my horizons and my vocabulary as an improviser. But I’m not, or I should say I don’t write lyrics. Writing lyrics is still something that I’m working on. I don’t know, I don’t think I’m as interested in that at this point. There are people who do amazing jobs at it like Kurt Elling.
JAZZREVIEW: Are you going to be touring?
JULIE HARDY: Yes. I am going to return to home tour in a couple of weeks. I’m going to be going back to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and I’m going to be doing a release for my CD. There will be a celebration sponsored by the Seacoast Jazz Society. That’s on the 17th. On the 18th of April, I’ll be at UNH, and I’ll be doing a vocal clinic at UNH with Randy Ingram. I do have four dates in New York. I do plan on doing a tour of the West Coast, Seattle, and Portland, and Randy is from Laguna Beach. He has ties out there. He went to USC and studied with Alan Pasqua and has worked with Tierney Sutton. So we hope to back into Los Angeles.
JAZZREVIEW: I know a great place for you to perform in Orange County, Steamer's Café and Jazz Club.
JULIE HARDY: That’s where Randy used to play.
JAZZREVIEW: Well then he knows that Terrence Love really fills the house. Steamer’s is a great place to hear jazz. Plus, it is only about a two minute trip for me.
JULIE HARDY: Wonderful. We would love to come over because you know I just got picked up by the Fresh Sound New Talent Label and I just did the Jazz Standard. So I am just at the beginning of my career and it takes time to get the touring going. My plan is to be on the west coast in the fall.
JAZZREVIEW: Well, we will be looking forward to that. What do you do when you are not performing or touring?
JULIE HARDY: New York is a tough place. Before I moved here, I was teaching full-time. I had a lot of connections to schools. That is what I hope to be doing shortly, but I have to have the time to make connections. At present, I have been focusing on my career as a performer.
JAZZREVIEW: What do you do to advance your career?
JULIE HARDY: I do a lot of networking and a lot of going out and supporting people in the community. Those are the key things. I have been working with a publicist who is helping to get my name out there, which has been really important. Also [I'm] working on my instrument and my composition, and keeping that going. It’s like having two jobs. I work a non-music job during the day and at night, I go out and work my music job. It gets tiring, but eventually I will be completely supporting myself as a musician. So right now, I’m working about eighty-hours a week.
JAZZREVIEW: What are the clubs that you are really aspiring to play in New York?
JULIE HARDY: I have, in a way, already done that. The Jazz Standard was the best club for me at this point. There is the Village Vanguard, but that’s crazy. They usually don’t have vocalists, but that would be the best club ever to play. There’s Bird Land and Blue Note, but they usually have higher profile acts... maybe a Monday or a Tuesday Night, eventually I could do that. But right now I’m more interested in touring. You know, touring Europe and Asia. That is more of a goal for me.
The clubs in the States don’t pay as much as doing a tour in Europe. You have to couple club playing with a clinic or something during the day. Especially the band leader where you have to make sure that everyone gets paid, and that their trip is paid for. But The Jazz Standard was really a big deal for me. I’m really happy I got to play there.
JAZZREVIEW: On the West Coast are there any clubs that you are looking to hit?
JULIE HARDY: Well there is the Jazz Bakery and Catalina’s, some place up North, which I can’t remember the name, It has an African name, but I can’t recall it. Yoshi’s, but I think Yoshi’s is pretty tough to get into these days. Randy Ingram, my pianist played the Jazz Bakery when he graduated from USC. I think he had a recital there. So we may be able to get back there on an off night.
JAZZREVIEW: Are you working on any new recordings?
JULIE HARDY: I’ve thought about it. I will be doing another recording with Fresh Sounds New Talent. This recording, "A Moments Glance," was actually recorded in June of 2003.
It was originally a demo, but it came out well, so I decided that I’m going to shop it around, see what I come up with. I think it helped that I had Ben Street and Adam Cruz on it because they are higher profile and they have been on Fresh Sound Records. And Jordi Pujol was most responsive to the record. It took a long time. It took about nine months before we finalized everything. We finalized things in December and we got it out pretty quickly.
Some of the material I performed at the Jazz Standard this past Monday will go on the next record. I did some things from "A Moments Glance" and some new stuff. I guess I will just see how this record goes. Then maybe next year I will think about recording a new record.
JAZZREVIEW: The new stuff that you did at the Jazz Standard, was that original compositions?
JULIE HARDY: There was one tune, called, On the Verge," which was kind of like a second movement to the tune "No Turning Back," which is track two, and which is a wordless composition. And I have a Brian Wilson composition off of the album "Pet Sounds" that I do called "Don’t Talk." I think that it is track four off that record. It’s a beautiful song. I didn’t do that much to it. It is pretty close to the original version. And I did a Fred Hersch tune off of one of his recent albums.
JAZZREVIEW: I am not familiar with Fred Hersch, but he seems to be a large factor in your career.
JULIE HARDY: He is. Randy studied with him at NEC. He’s been the most helpful when we moved to New York. He really welcomed us, looked out for us, comped us into his shows, gave us lessons, one for free and we would pay for the next one, stuff like that. He’s been really wonderful. He helped me to connect with Bob Blumenthal, who wrote my liner notes. And, he helped me with the Jazz Standard and recommended me for that, which was a big help with me advancing my career.
His music, like the fourth track on my CD "A Moment’s Glance" is kind of inspired by his record with Norma Winston, "Songs and Lullaby's," which came out a couple of years ago. It’s his songs and she wrote lyrics to his music. A lot of her lyrics are in third person and they tell a story, so that’s where "A Moments Glance" came from. His melodies and his harmonies influenced that. I just love his music.
JAZZREVIEW: What is Fred Hersch’s primary instrument?
JULIE HARDY: Piano. He just released a recording called "Leaves of Grass." It’s based on Walt Whitman’s poetry and it was premiered in Carnegie Hall last month, with Kurt Elling and Kate McGarry on vocals. It was pretty wonderful. The recording is available on Palmetto Records.
JAZZREVIEW: Where are you in establishing your own voice?
JULIE HARDY: I’m still in the process of figuring that out, on deciding what direction I’m going in as a singer. At this point, I am still pretty eclectic as far as what I like to do. When I perform live, I tend to do standards straight down with improvisation, you know scatting, which I balance with some popular and contemporary songs that everyone will know, but with my own harmonic language.
JAZZREVIEW: What would be an example of the popular songs that you do?
JULIE HARDY: "And I Love Him," the first track on the record is a song that people know and they respond to, but I do it in a style that I’m comfortable with. It is still in a harmonic language that comes from me as a composer. I also did "So Far Away" by Carol King. My Mom and my sister just moved to Portland, Oregon, which is why I plan to come out there and play.
JAZZREVIEW: Are either of them musicians?
JULIE HARDY: My sister is a wonderful singer, but she is going to be a naturopathic doctor, so she is in med school. My Dad has the voice, but he is not what I would call a musician. He loves to sing. A lot of what I learned started in high school when I was introduced to Thelonius Monk and my friend Rob Martin introduced me to Monk and Sarah Vaughn and we played together. We played piano. So a lot of my experimental phase occurred then, and a lot of it didn’t sound very good.
JAZZREVIEW: So you have improved tremendously.
JULIE HARDY: I still have tapes, so yes, but I’m still trying to find out exactly which way I’m going. Composing is really important to me. I’d like to start writing more songs with lyrics. Actually, when I performed on Monday, when I would do the wordless compositions, they didn’t know the difference between that and a scat solo. For some of them, it sounded like I was scatting the whole time. I’m thinking I might do less of that and more lyric, but still be my own composition.
JAZZREVIEW: Let me ask you, how does wordless music differ from scatting?
JULIE HARDY: It is a way of using your voice as an instrument and often you are doubled by an instrument such as a tenor, as in the case of "No Turning Back" on "A Moment’s Glance." It’s not improvised, it is composed, because there is no way that the saxophone player would know what I was going to do. Scat is completely improvised and spontaneous. At times it sounds like bebop, but I have different ways I improvise. At times it is bebop at and sometimes it's more spacious and more melodic, and less percussive. I guess it is hard to know as a listener. Generally if someone is doubling you, it is not going to be scat singing.
JAZZREVIEW: I want to touch on one topic before we finish. You played with Christian McBride?
JULIE HARDY: Well, I haven’t played with him. He was the director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass, in Aspen, Colorado. It’s a program for emerging artists, and I was selected with another vocalist for the year. We basically hung out...Christian [McBride]and Benny Green, Wallace Roney and folks like that for ten days, and played with ensembles. That year, Ray Brown had passed away so Christian wasn’t around that much. I wish I had a chance to play with him, but he didn’t even make the last concert. He had a substitute, but I did get to play with Benny Green and Russell Malone, and that was really wonderful.
JAZZREVIEW: What did you play with Benny?
JULIE HARDY: We did a duo. It was in a master class and we played "If I should Lose You." We were working on emoting with the lyrics. It was great. I have that on a recording. I made certain to record that. With Russell, it was a similar situation. We did "My Foolish Heart."
Benny was the best teacher out of all the people there. He really was hard on us and wanted to make sure everything was perfect. I’m glad he was because often the masters of jazz, they don’t want to say anything. They’re too nice at times when you want them to be honest and say, "I don’t think that sounds good" or "Here’s how we can improve." They tend to be, "Everything sounds good." It’s better when they’re honest I think. You learn more. Benny did not hold anything back.
JAZZREVIEW: What did Benny say that was most beneficial to you?
JULIE HARDY: It was kind of a group thing. He was focusing on time and groove and making sure to have a really clear concept of the count-off. He was focusing a lot on the drummer because he was playing really loud and not listening.
And so, he did a lot of that. We did, I sang "My One and Only Love" and he said, "It is fine to just sing the melody the way it is and not to embellish it because it is a beautiful melody, delivered the way it is." And I guess [with] a sense of precision, he was really focusing on that. He seemed to respond well to what I was doing, which was to improvise over Wayne Shorter tunes. He was very supportive.
JAZZREVIEW: Thank you very much for your time. And I hope to see you when you make it out to Orange County.
JULIE HARDY: Well, thank you. It was nice talking with you. (On April 20, 2005, JazzReview spoke again with Julie Hardy).
JAZZREVIEW: How did the concert go in New Hampshire?
JULIE HARDY: It was great, wonderful!
JAZZREVIEW: Where did you play?
JULIE HARDY: We played at the Press Room in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. That is where I am from. I grew up in Southern New Hampshire, I went to high School and I went to college in Durham, which is about a ten minute Drive from Portsmouth. So it is kind of my home base.
It’s a port city. It is very old...1600/1700’s. The Press Room may be the biggest club in New Hampshire. The concert was sponsored by the Sea Coast Jazz Society. This was at their annual meeting. They discuss jazz in the area and have their elections. They sponsor a new artist each year. This year they sponsored me and my band. The band is amazing. The drummer is Herbie Hancock’s new drummer, Richie Barshay. He will be going on tour next week, in Europe with Herbie and his band.
JAZZREVIEW: Was he with Herbie when he played the Cerritos Center in Orange County this spring? If he was I saw him.
JULIE HARDY: Yes, he did play on that tour. He is amazing and he looks so young. People are always asking how old he is. I liked this band. They were really into what we were doing, and they were really passionate about the music, which made it really fun for me.
JAZZREVIEW: Who else was in this band?
JULIE HARDY: Randy Ingram, piano: Jorge Roeder bass; Richie Barshay, drums. I think because they are younger, they are more enthusiastic about playing; it’s not a job yet. They are still doing it for the love of the music. They are twenty and twenty-one. They still have that fire. And the turn out was great. I saw a lot of people I haven’t seen in ten years - teachers from high school. I was just a success. The next day we did some clinics at UNH, kind of an all day thing. We worked with the college students and with the voice students, rhythm section and the piano. It went really well.
It was just a two day trip, our New England CD release. We plan on returning this summer to play the festival. I have a friend and amazing pianist Mark Shilansky. He has been really important. I have known him for many years. He was a teacher of mine back when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. He helped set up the clinic. David Seiler is the director, really wonderful guy, really close with Clark Terry. They have had some really great artists up.
I am planning to perform on a double bill at Catalina’s Bar and Grill in the fall. There is a vocalist Sara Lieb, who’s LA, a very wonderful young vocalist. She’s out there right now. I think she might be going to at the Manhattan school next year. She is someone [who] is doing really well. She has played at the Vic and Lunaria, so she has been doing pretty well and has a record out. We are going to hook up in the fall.
I have a gig at Sweet Rhythm on May 31st. I am trying a different group who I have actually worked with in the past. It’s going to be Matt Clohesy, on bass; he is touring with Jeff Keyser and Ingrid Jensen, right now. Danny Fischer, will be on drums. Both Matt and Danny are from Australia, and I am going to try to get Joel Frahm. He plays tenor sax and recently recorded a duo record with Brad Mehldau that was really successful. Randy Ingram will play piano.
We will be playing at the 55 Bar on June 22nd and then we hope to do some touring in Connecticut and Philly, Baltimore near New York, and there is a festival, but I don’t want to jinx it by saying anything. After the 55 Bar I feel that I have played all the places that I wanted to in New York for the time being. I want to branch out from there and go on the road, tour the Northwest, Southern California and the Midwest because there are lots of opportunities with all the schools for clinics. Plus, there are less people touring...then in Michigan. There are clubs that I want to look into.
JAZZREVIEW: So is that is a lot to think about for the moment.
JULIE HARDY: Yes, I think so. Thanks. Bye.