Vanessa Rubin

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Vanessa Rubin
PikiWiki Israel 7376 Vanessa Rubin Girl Talk.JPG
Background information
Born (1957-03-14) March 14, 1957 (age 58)
Origin Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Genres Jazz, R&B
Occupation(s) Vocalist, Composer
Years active 1980s – Present
Labels Telarc, RCA, Novus
Associated acts Clark Terry
Cecil Bridgewater
Pharoah Sanders

Vanessa Rubin (born March 14, 1957 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American jazz vocalist and composer.


Rubin was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, to parents from Trinidad and Louisiana, and grew up in a musical household. She achieved her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Ohio State University. She received a standing ovation for her performance of “God Bless the Child” while competing in the Miss Black Central Ohio Contest, which convinced her that her true calling was to sing in the jazz tradition. This Billie Holiday masterpiece has since become her "official" theme song. Rubin returned to Cleveland, where she began singing in many of the city's clubs and hotels and performing with the best of the city's musicians. She also formed and managed her first group, consisting of organ, guitar, vibes and drums. Soon after she moved to New York City in 1982, she performed at Sweet Basil and the Village Vanguard with the Pharoah Sanders Quartet. She then began to study with pianist Barry Harris at his Jazz Cultural Theatre.[1] Since that time she has worked with an impressive list of musicians, including Kenny Barron, Lionel Hampton, the Mercer Ellington Orchestra, Cecil Bridgewater, Etta Jones, Toots Thielemans, Steve Turre, Cedar Walton, and Grover Washington, Jr. More recently she has completed international tours with Herbie Hancock, the Woody Herman Orchestra, and the Jazz Crusaders.

In 1992 she signed with the Novus label, and her releases for the label are quite enjoyable, including a fine tribute to Carmen McRae, I'm Glad There Is You: A Tribute to Carmen McRae (1994), the ballad-dominated set does have a reasonable amount of variety, Rubin gets off some fine scatting on "Yardbird Suite" and she introduces an excellent original in "No Strings Attached." Onzy Matthews is an arranger on this release, it would be his last set of recorded arrangements before he passed in 1997. A variety of guests including Grover Washington, Jr., Frank Foster, Antonio Hart, Cecil Bridgewater, Kenny Burrell and Monty Alexander. Pastiche (1993) assisted by a fine rhythm section and such sidemen as trumpeters E.J. Allen and Cecil Bridgewater, trombonist Steve Turre, and (on one song) tenorman Houston Person, Rubin expertly interprets the lyrics with both honest emotion and swing, occasionally scatting in unison or in counterpoint with the horns. She delivers everything from honey-laden ballads purring like a kitten, to up-tempo swinging and scatting like a saxophone.[2] This disc offers a good example of her talents. She also performed the song "Just Squeeze Me" on Clark Terry's Live on QE2.

Selective discography[edit]

Year Title Genre Label Billboard[3]
1991 Soul Eyes Jazz Novus 9
1993 Pastiche 10
1994 I'm Glad There Is You: A Tribute to Carmen McRae 22
1995 Vanessa Rubin Sings
1997 New Horizons R&B, Jazz RCA
1999 Language of Love Jazz Telarc
2001 Girl Talk