Post image for Highly Recommended: THE CLAYTON-HAMILTON JAZZ ORCHESTRA with SAMARA JOY (The Soraya)

by Tony Frankel on February 14, 2023

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles


While Ms. Joy had to cancel her original date of Feb. 11, and the March 26 show now sold out, don’t despair. You can still see her, as The Soraya is offering a livestream for only 19 bucks (get tickets here). The jazz world has been abuzz about 23-year-old Bronx New Yorker Samara Joy since she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2019, and rightfully so. Performing mostly jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, she has already trotted around Europe, selling out show after show. When I caught her live at the Monterey Jazz Festival last September, a gathering crowd became a throng upon hearing her. Not long thereafter, she did two sets with trio at Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa. The reserved patrons went wild — long and loud — after the bittersweet ballad, “Guess Who I Saw Today?” After this article was originally published, Samara won a Grammy for both Best New Artist and her first album with Verve, Linger Awhile,(also check out her 2021 eponymous debut album). So when I tell you that this young singer with an old soul has the level of talent that only surfaces once in a blue moon, you’d best believe it.

Clearly it’s much easier to globetrot with a trio, so she has hardly ever performed with an orchestra, which is why I say you MUST see her March 26, 2023 livestreamed from The Soraya (Cal State Northridge), when she collaborates with the amazing 19-piece Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Thanks to bandleader John Clayton and Soraya Artistic Director Thor Steingraber for having the foresight to concoct this concert a year ago before the Grammy wins. It’s a match made in heaven. Host of the Jazz at Naz series, Reggie Quinerly, says it best: “You can expect propulsive swing and sophisticated comfort topped with a side of soulful panache.”

Ms. Joy performs classic songs that have stood the test of time and by her choice of repertoire she invites comparison with the great singers who have influenced her, particularly Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. But her respectful interpretation balances tradition with the freshness of youth (her sweet, humble personality will have you giddy) and more contemporary influences, with the result that her voice has a timeless quality that’s pure jazz. Hers is an awesomely smooth and rich voice that really knows how to handle the vintage tunes.

Samara Joy is spreading beauty, harmony and happiness, and Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra is one of the country’s leading big bands. Boy, do we need them now.

Check out Samara’s new single with Gerald Clayton, one of America’s finest pianists (and, yes, son of John Clayton).

Reggie Quinerly’s Program Notes
Video of John Clayton on fusing his music with Samara

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra Featuring Samara Joy
Saturday, March 26, 2023 at 8pm
Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya)
18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge
for tickets ($19 livestream), visit The Soraya

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