Vocalist Janice Borla has made it her artistic mission to use her voice as a true jazz instrument.
She regards herself as a "vocal instrumentalist," vocalizing instrumental jazz tunes by modern and contemporary jazz composers and participating in the improvisatory process as an equal member of the ensemble. Her recordings and performances have earned her consistently high praise for her beautiful sound, superb technique, adventurous repertoire and imaginative vocal improvisations.
With her new release From Every Angle, she continues to expand the parameters of jazz vocal repertoire and the use of the voice as an instrument. Often cited for her adventurous, risk-taking approach, she continually challenges herself, keeping vocal improvisation front-and-center in her performances. Jazz journalist Neil Tesser: "She shatters the stereotype of the jazz vocalist as a poseur or wannabe, infatuated with the idea of improvisation but lacking the mettle to carry it off: she's a musician who happens to play voice." And she manages to do so without sacrificing traditional vocal repertoire, equally adept at expressing a lyric. AllMusic: "...An impressive performance. Janice Borla clearly deserves far wider recognition with this release." JazzWeek: "Another fine effort from a singer who seems to do everything right."
Janice's previous CD Agents of Change, named "The #1 Jazz CD of the Year" by WBEZ-FM Chicago Public Radio, similarly enjoyed wide critical acclaim. Christopher Loudon (Jazz Times) describes her as "a one-woman jazz tornado" and praised the album as "...eight breathtaking musical canvases, each a perceptively executed masterpiece... Genius. Pure genius." Gary Walker (WBGO, NY): "Fresh and inventive... This CD knocks me out." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "A stunning singer with a lustrous voice and the technique, imagination and daring of the best improvising instrumentalists."
Pivotal to her approach is Janice's rapport with the long-standing members of her band: trumpeter Art Davis, the perfect complement to her vocal sound and style; pianist Dan Haerle, bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Jack Mouse, all highly conversational players who also work together as the acclaimed Dan Haerle Trio; and guitarist John McLean, whose inventive arrangements are ideal vehicles for Janice's artistic vision.
The native Chicagoan began her music training on keyboard at age 8 and her vocal training at age 12. She earned a B.A. in Music from Barat College (Lake Forest, IL), augmenting her vocal training at Northwestern University. While attending the University of Illinois for graduate study, she was a member of the Ineluctable Modality, a 12-voice touring chamber ensemble that performed avant-garde "new music" by such contemporary composers as Mauricio Kagel, Morgan Powell and Iannis Xenakis. This is also where she enjoyed her first jazz experience as vocalist with the U of I jazz bands.
Since then Janice has performed with such jazz talents as Clark Terry, Bunky Green, Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz, Bobby Shew and numerous others. Recent performances include Chicago's Jazz Showcase, The Iridium in New York City, the Soroptimist Women in Jazz Festival in Fort Bragg, California and the Chicago Jazz Festival. Following the release of her new CD, Janice and her group will be featured in concert at the 34th annual conference of the International Association of Jazz Education (IAJE) in New York City in January, 2007.
A recognized pioneer in vocal jazz education, Janice founded the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp and "Hot Jazz - 6 Cool Nites" Concert Series, cited by Jazziz Magazine as "one of the most innovative and dynamic summer jazz educational programs in the country." The annual summer event has been featured on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" (PBS), HDNET-TV, WGN-TV, WTTW Channel 11 Chicago and WBEZ-FM Chicago Public Radio's "Performance Space." Janice is currently Director of Vocal Jazz with the Jazz Studies Program at North Central College (Napervillle, Illinois). She has performed as guest artist and clinician at high schools, colleges and festivals throughout the U.S. Canada and Europe and has written articles on vocal jazz for the Jazz Educators Journal, the IAJE Illinois Unit Newsletter and Downbeat Magazine, including that magazine's first vocal transcription and the first written by a woman.