Nora McCarthy

category: Jazz, Music,

Contact & Info

Artist Statement

NORA MCCARTHY has performed at the top jazz venues in New York and has been a steady fixture on the New York jazz music scene since her arrival in 1996.  A multi-faceted artist, she works in many capacities and formats.  The following are projects Ms. McCarthy currently produces:  A Small Dream In Red â?? Avant-Garde Voice and Saxophone Duo with alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester.  Their repertoire consists of original compositions that interpret the paintings of master painter, Wassily Kandinsky and other current artists as well as deconstructions of standards, free music art forms, improvisation and poetry within the jazz and Afro-Caribbean idioms often including lighting and installations in their presentation.  Their quintessential goal is to demonstrate the unique immediacy of music in abstract visual form. Incredibly, Nora and Jorge have achieved, in their duo performances, an innovative form of musical expression comparable in impact to Kandinsky's paintings, wherein each work reveals a self-contained world of content, form, improvisation, and - above all - balance. In April, 2007, A Small Dream In Red performed in concert and conducted a series of workshops and master classes in Podgorica, Montenegro for Jazz Appreciation Month entitled â??From Dixieland to the Avant Garde and Free Music Art Forms â?? â??The Voices and Hornsâ??. Recent gallery performances include: Tribes Gallery, The Phoenix Gallery and The Brecht Forum The Nora McCarthy Quâ??ARTâ??et is an organic jazz group that crosses cultures, concepts and genres with a spontaneous modern approach.  Drawing from many sources, their enlivening repertoire is a diverse combination of original compositions, contemporary jazz, classic jazz, Latin music; and, on-the-spot improvisations and tone poems that delivers a very compelling performance. The ConceptualMotion Orchestra â?? is a creative orchestra of 20 stellar musicians from New York City and around the world is co-led by Nora McCarthy and Jorge Sylvester.  This eclectic group masterfully interprets the original compositions and arrangements of Sylvester and McCarthy.  The music challenges traditional formulas that are often subscribed to by other large ensembles.  The music and arrangements apply an open and harmonically unpredictable perspective to composition, layering various textures across a network of rhythmic lines.  The innovative and daring concepts that drive the music utilize a full spectrum of colors (sounds), textures (instruments) and movement (rhythms) to create a tangible image.  They perform a mixture of obtuse compositional structures, open form blues and Afro-Caribbean-charged rhythmic pieces within a free collective expression that includes poetry.  The CMO opened the internationally renowned avant-garde Vision Festival X in June, 2005. Noraâ??s other groups include: The Red Voxx Group â?? an experimental nu-moderne collective with alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester, bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Brian Willson; and, The Beyond Words Voice and Bass Duo with Dominic Duval. Nora is a featured member and organizer of A Chorus of Poets, a vital tradition in the spoken word community now in its 16th year and is also the assistant to its founder Master Conductor Lawrence D. â??Butchâ?? Morris. Recent performances:  The Brecht Forum, Tribes Gallery, the WTC Arts Walk, the Living Theatre and upcoming at CUE Performance Center in Manhattan. Through her vast experience in the jazz and creative music field, McCarthy also conducts various workshops and master classes that deal with, among other things, vocal empowerment. Nora has developed a unique approach to teaching voice and improvisation and is founder of "The Zen Of Singing...The Spiritual Path To Finding Your Voice.â??â?¢  ( Many of McCarthy's compositions and poems embody the history of jazz and she has written poetry and extended compositions for several of the masters of the music namely:  Charlie Parker, Jeanne Lee, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy; Billie Holiday (Billie), Miles Davis (Miles' Mind), Sonny Rollins (Into The Middle of Something), Grover Washington (Grover's Groove), and her most recent masterpiece, (Faith In Time - aka, Jimmy's Song), a tribute to Little Jimmy Scott and titled after the name of his autobiography published in 2002.  These works document the creative and historical significance of each artist and their contributions to Jazz music.   Through lecture and performance McCarthy presents an informative and memorable presentation. In March, 2000, Nora returned to her early musical roots and toured briefly with the rhythm and blues legend Wilson Pickett as a member of his band the Midnight Movers.  That same year, Nora had the honor of performing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and the Albany Jazz Festival with Benny Russellâ??s Next Legacy Orchestra founded by renowned saxophonist, David Murray. 2000/2001, Nora performed weekly with trombonist Kuumba Frank Lacy's Vibe Tribe at the Jazz Gallery in New York.  Earlier on, Nora performed extensively in duo with renowned bassist Juini Booth who worked with many luminaries from Art Blakey to Sun Ra to McCoy Tyner to name a few. Nora now carries on the bass and voice tradition with the remarkable Dominic Duval who is well known for his work with Cecil Taylor among others and his own group Trio X with Joe McPhee and Jay Rosen. Ms. McCarthy studied voice and piano privately with Marietta Richards, Joseph Ogren, Pat Pace, Neal Creque, Joan Stiles and Jay Clayton.  She attended Cleveland State University, Cleveland Music Settlement and The Cleveland Institute of Music.  In 2002, Nora received a scholarship from New School University for Jazz Vocal Performance. McCarthy has produced and released two CDs: red&blue (1996) an impressive collection of predominately original  music, recorded in the tradition of the early Blue Note recordings of the 1960â??s with its impressionistic post-bop quality. Out of the 9 songs on the disc, 7 are McCarthyâ??s originals.  Her second CD entitled A Small Dream In Red, was recorded live at Cleveland State Universityâ??s Drinko Hall in 2003.  Currently she is working on her third CD of original music and choice standards and has plans to record in early 2008 another CD with her voice and saxophone duet.

Educational Background