Nora McCarthy has thus far had a very productive and significant musical career. A poet and a songwriter in addition to being a highly original singer, she is an important force in the advanced New York jazz vocal scene since 1996 when she recorded her first CD, red&blue. Her collaboration with alto-saxophonist Jorge Sylvester began in 2001 and the synergy of their near telepathic level of communication has produced several unique and groundbreaking projects: A Small Dream In Red, an innovative voice and saxophone duo; ConceptualMotion Orchestra, a 20-piece all original music ensemble; and the ACE (Afro-Caribbean-Experimental) Collective, a sextet of improvising musicians consisting of: alto saxophone, voice, trumpet, piano electric bass, and drums. The ACE Collective performs original, new and experimental compositions that draw from the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora, jazz and the free music art forms. Nora and her various groups have appeared in concerts, festivals and club dates in NYC and elsewhere in the world.
Nora has performed with: Trombonist Kuumba Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe; Trombonist George Brandon and the Blue Unity Ensemble; Conductor, Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris’ A Chorus Of Poets; the Next Legacy Jazz Orchestra; Bassists: Dominic Duval, Santi Debriano, Juini Booth, Andy McCloud, Calvin Hill, Reggie Washington, Ken Filiano, Essiet Okon Essiet, Donald Nicks; Vibraphonist, Multi-Instrumentalist Gunter Hampel; Pianists: James Weidman, John diMartino, James Hurt, Eric Lewis, Guitarists: Barry Wedgle, Dom Minasi, Marvin Sewell, Andrew Green; Drummers: Gene Jackson, Derrik Phillips, Dafnis Prieto, Michael Wimberly, Jay Rosen as well as the legendary Bluesman, Wilson Pickett among many, many other notables in addition to her own Qu’ART’et with John diMartino; Jeffrey Carney-Bass and Tony Jefferson-Drums. Nora and her various groups have appeared in concerts, festivals and club dates in NYC and elsewhere in the world.
On December 6, 2010, Nora performed in concert at the illustrious Brucknerhaus in Linz, Austria debuting her original poetry as well as new compositions and completed a new recording, Spirit Driven, with Jorge Sylvester’s ACE Collective to be released June, 2012 on her label Red Zen Records ™. Nora is the featured vocalist on trombonist, composer George Brandon's new CD, Toward The Hill Of Joy (May, 2011) with the Blue Unity Ensemble. in the language of dreams, (Red Zen Records ™). her newest offering with, A Small Dream In Red, a tribute to Ornette Coleman and Wassily Kandinsky, is also due for release June, 2012. Nora’s CD Circle Completing (2009), is an exquisite duet CD with pianist John diMartino that features several of her original compositions and poetry including her tribute to the great jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott and includes her original composition, “Faith in Time – Jimmy’s Song,” her homage to Scott.
In 2009 Nora was featured in Italy’s foremost jazz magazine, The Jazz Magazine, alongside luminaries Ahmad Jamal and Phil Woods and her composition “My Dream” from her CD, red&blue, was included on the accompanying compilation CD. From 2009-2010, Nora hosted, New York Jazz Expressions, for UKJazz Radio, an online radio program presenting over 15 shows that featured a vast array of vocal and instrumental jazz recordings from early jazz to the avant-garde and free music art forms highlighting those artists currently on the cutting edge of the New York City jazz music scene.
Through her vast experience in the jazz and creative music field, Nora has developed a unique approach to teaching voice and improvisation. She is founder of, The Zen Of Singing...The Spiritual Path To Finding Your Voice, ™ and currently teaches privately, conducts workshops, master classes world-wide and will soon offer on-line instruction.
in the language of dreams (RedZen Records) – 2012
Spirit Driven (RedZen Records) – 2012
Toward A Hill of Joy, 2011
Circle Completing, 2009
A Small Dream In Red, 2005
Music that lingers somewhere in the space between the beats of our heart and those cherished places that are warmly remembered and tenderly embraced.
Based out of Brooklyn, New York, HEARTSTRINGS Project is the collaboration of Singer, Songwriter and Poet, Nora McCarthy; Guitarist, Composer, Arranger, Andrew Green; and, Donald Nicks, Bassist and Composer. This newly formed group of imaginative, soulful, eclectic and seasoned jazz musicians has already begun to make its way into the heart of the savvy and sophisticated New York Jazz Scene.
With a repertoire that focuses on those significant singer/songwriters of the last 50 years who were poets as well as remarkable songwriters they mesmerize with artfully arranged classics such as: Bob Dylan’s, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, ” Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years,” Stevie Wonder’s, “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” Nick Drake’s, “River Man, " Abbey Lincoln’s, “Throw It Away,” and Charles Mingus/Joni Mitchell’s, “Good By Pork Pie Hat” transforming them into contemporary modern jazz music.
The Nora McCarthy Qu’ART’et is an organic jazz group that takes a modern approach to classic standards and blues that is engagingly in the moment. Its members are among the most innovative improvisers in the world. Drawing from the roots of the art form, their enlivening repertoire is a tapestry of original music, contemporary jazz, classic jazz, Blues and free music art forms woven together with on-the-spot improvisation and poetry that makes for a compelling performance. Featured guest artist alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester and McCarthy have a symbiotic chemistry that is enthralling.
"red&blue" A quartet led by Nora McCarthy in 1996 that resulted in a CD of the same name, red&blue - was McCarthy’s first self-produced project and includes the artistry of: pianist, John di Martino; bassist, Essiet Okon Essiet; drummer, Alvester Garnett; tenor saxophonist, Mike Lee, and percussionist, Sato Takeishi. The CD of predominately original music (out of the 9 compositions, 7 were penned by McCarthy) was recorded in 1996 and has had limited distribution. It can be purchased at CD Baby and directly from noramccarthy.com. (See reviews.)
The ACE Collective is a group of improvising musicians created and led by saxophonist/composer/arranger Jorge Sylvester. An extension of the ACE Trio (alto saxophone, electric bass and drums), the ACE Collective includes three additional independent rhythmic and melodic elements: the voice, trumpet and piano expanding its harmonic colors, its scope of sound and its textural capacity. The music is original, new and experimental and draws from the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora, jazz and the free music art forms. Its members include:
Jorge Sylvester – Alto Saxophone and Compositions
Nora McCarthy – Voice, Poetry and Compositions
Waldron Mahdi Ricks – Trumpet
Pablo Vergara – Piano
Donald Nicks – Electric Bass
Kenny Grohowski – Drums
A SMALL DREAM IN RED AN EXPRESSIONIST AVANT GARD VOICE AND ALTO SAXOPHONE DUET The Next Level in Aural Stimulation Nora McCarthy – Voice and Compositions Jorge Sylvester – Alto Saxophone and Compositions Fernando Natalici – Installations, Lighting and Projections An abstract expressionist voice and alto saxophone duet named after expressionist master painter Wassily Kandinsky's masterpiece, Small Dream In Red - Kleiner Traum in Rot (1925) explores visual elements from a musical standpoint in a totally free environment. This thought provoking duo captures its listeners in an intimate exchange of total oneness of expression and complete symbiosis. Its experimental approach to composition and improvisation parallels the concepts developed by Kandinsky. The repertoire consists of compositional interpretations of Kandinsky's paintings as well as deconstructions of contemporary jazz and classic jazz standards presented in a multi-media format that combines music, spoken word and visual art. This project debuted in September, 2001 at the Knitting Factory Old Office.
CONCEPTUALMOTION 20 piece Orchestra The ensemble is an eclectic group of 20 of New York City’s improvisers from the US and around the world who masterfully interpret the original compositions of Nora McCarthy and Jorge Sylvester. The primary goal of the ConceptualMotion Orchestra is to bring together the free, contemporary, classic, indigenous, and new music art forms. The ultimate goal of the compositions is constructive movement, i.e. forward progression and expansion; creating works filled with the architectonic spirit that is at the center of all creative art forms. Conducted and arranged by Jorge Sylvester, the music challenges traditional formulas that are often subscribed to by other large ensembles. The Innovative and daring concepts that drive the music utilize a full spectrum of colors, textures and movement to create a tangible image. The music is a mixture of obtuse compositional structures, open form blues and Afro-Caribbean charged rhythmic pieces within a free collective expression that includes poetry.
THE BEYOND WORD VOICE and BASS DUO With Maestro Dominic Duval, the music takes an intuitively simplistic approach to jazz standards, blending in a touch of the avant-garde with free and experimental improvisation, visual compositions and poetry.
Manna For Thought - a free form improvisational trio with Dom Minasi and Ras Moshe
Back To The One – conceptualized improvisation group in four parts- saxophone, piano, drums and pedals with original compositions and poetry.
- CIRCLE COMPLETING
NORA MCCARTHY RELEASES AN EXQUISITE DUET CD - CIRCLE COMPLETING Scott Yanow, Author of nine jazz books including Trumpet Kings, Swing, Bebop, Jazz On Record 1917-76 and Jazz On Film
CIRCLE COMPLETING Known as a brilliant improviser with a warm and highly expressive voice, Nora McCarthy recently released her newest recording, Circle Completing. The set of duets with pianist John DiMartino sums up Ms. McCarthy’s colorful story so far, is a tribute to the legendary singer Jimmy Scott, and is a consistently surprising look at life’s lessons. “One has to experience life before singing these types of songs,” says Nora. Circle Completing, which is comprised of three of the singer’s originals plus six standards, is a very spontaneous set that emerged with a unified purpose. “We recorded all of the music in four hours,” remembers Nora,” and several of the songs came out of nowhere.” Starting with “Come Fly With Me,” an optimistic dream of having a perfect relationship, Circle Completing includes the soul ballad “To Be With You” (which was associated with Joe Cuba), a wistful and lyrical rendition of “Too Late Now,” “Hawaiian Wedding Song” (which looks back to the singer’s musical beginnings), a playful rendition of the blues “Little Red Rooster,” and her haunting original “In The Early Morning Light,” a spoken word piece which is about infidelity, having one’s heart broken, and dealing with new realities. On “The Shadow Of Your Smile,” a standard about lost love, she interprets the words and then creates some scatting that is heartfelt improvising which perfectly fits the song. Nora concludes the memorable set with her philosophical “Life Is A Song To Song” and her poetic tribute to Jimmy Scott, “Faith In Time (Jimmy’s Song).”
But more than the individual songs, Circle Completing is a moody suite that deals with the evolution of life, coming to a place of forgiveness, letting go, and ultimately moving on to the next level. “Every day you have to forgive yourself and everybody. One has to concentrate on compassion. Jimmy Scott is the living embodiment of that, how he suffered and yet rose above it all.” While Nora McCarthy has worked extensively in duets with bassist Juini Booth, saxophonist Jorge Sylvester and bassist Dominic Duval, her collaboration with John diMartino has its own personality. “No matter who you put John with, he sounds different than anyone else. He is extremely creative, has a great rhythmic concept, and can do it all. He knows how to be an accompanist without sacrificing his own artistic integrity. We have our own sound together.”
Nora McCarthy has thus far had a very productive and significant musical career. She grew up in Cleveland, sang Hawaiian songs professionally with her father-in-law, worked extensively in local jazz clubs, and moved to New York in 1994. A poet and a songwriter in addition to being a singer, she recorded red&blue, became part of the New York avant-garde scene without losing her roots in standards, recorded duets with Jorge Sylvester that were inspired by the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky (A Small Dream In Red), and worked with such groups as the 20-piece orchestra ConceptualMotion (which she co-leads and co-founded), Kuumba Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe, Butch Morris’ A Chorus Of Poets, the Next Legacy Jazz Orchestra, the ACE (Afro-Caribbean-Experimental) Collective, in addition to her own Qu’ART’et. While Circle Completing can be considered Nora McCarthy’s most accessible recording to date due to her love for standards and the tradition, her adventurous singing, the spontaneous interplay with John diMartino, and the unpredictability of the music result in the innovative duets being full of subtle surprises.
NORA McCARTHY - Vocal Artist, Composer, Poet, Lyricist, Founder of the Zen of Singing
NORA Mc CARTHY Singer, Vocal Improviser, Composer, Lyricist, Poet, Actor
Vocal artist, composer, poet, Nora McCarthy is a prominent member of the New York Jazz Community. She and her various groups work at the top jazz venues in New York and elsewhere in the world. "McCarthy's musical roots are vast and varied, crossing cultures and genres - from the Great American song book to contemporary modern jazz and bebop, early rhythm and blues, funk music, Hawaiian and Brazilian music and in recent years she's embraced - and been embraced by "the avant garde." Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz, 8/2005.
NEW RELEASE NEWS:
Nora’s latest offering, Circle Completing is a collection of some treasured jazz standards; a gutsy blues, “Little Red Rooster”, performed by the legendary Sam Cooke and later by the Rolling Stones; a beautiful rendition of, “To Be With You”, made famous by singer Jimmy Sabater, formerly with the Joe Cuba Sextet (Gilberto Miguel Calderon), in 1957; three originals penned by McCarthy: “In The Early Morning Light”, a free improvised poetry piece; “Faith In Time”, a tribute to the great jazz vocal legend Jimmy Scott; and, “Life Is A Song To Sing”, McCarthy's inspiring and uplifting anthem. A special treat is the unexpected, “Ke Kali Nei Au...The Hawaiian Wedding Song”, sung with a prayer-like reverence it is an homage to Nora’s three Hawaiian sons and her love of the music of Hawaii. Nora is accompanied on this CD by the talented pianist, composer, arranger John di Martino (http://www.johndimartino.com) who has performed and recorded with such notables as Kenny Burrell, Pat Martino, James Moody and Eddie Gomez. Mr. di Martino is a sought after musical director and has accompanied Jon Hendricks, Diane Schuur and the late Billy Eckstine. Circle Completing is sung in the rich tradition reminiscent of the great balladeers from the early Jazz and Rhythm& Blues era that McCarthy grew up listening to fused with a modern approach and an eye to the future reflecting Nora’s current involvement and intrigue with the creative and free music art forms giving Circle Completing a contemporary feel. It is the progeny of that union, Nora’s original compositions, that gives Circle Completing its distinct voice and what makes her a unique and dynamic vocal artist in the world of jazz and creative music today.
In 1998, Nora released her first CD, red&blue, with John diMartino - piano, Essiet Okon Essiet - bass, Alvester Garnett- drums, Mike Lee - tenor saxophone, and Sato Takeishi - percussion. red&blue is a mixture of McCarthy's original compositions (7 out of 9) and two standards, all of which are written and arranged in the post-bop tradition of the early Blue Note recordings. This timeless CD has received wonderful reviews and is still gaining recognition around the world, most recently in Como, Italy where she is a featured artist in the July/August 2008 issue of The Jazz Magazine and her composition “My Dream” was included on the accompanying compilation disc alongside jazz luminaries Ahmad Jamaal and Phil Woods among other notables.
In 2005 Nora released, A Small Dream In Red (Sundown), named after master painter Wassily Kandinsky's masterpiece, Kleiner en Rot (Small Dream In Red). This adventurous CD is a live recording of the voice and saxophone duo's 2003 concert at Cleveland State University's Drinko Hall and beautifully demonstrates the unique symbiosis between the two artists as well as Nora's virtuosity as a musician of the highest order and showcases her ability to "play with the known and the unknown elements of jazz." Florence Wetzel, All About Jazz New York. McCarthy and Sylvester have written many compositions for this project individually and together interpreting some of Kandinsky’s paintings that deal with music and composition. They also perform their other original compositions as well as deconstructions of familiar standards like My Romance and Afro Blue and other choice songs that transcend categories and genres. “…McCarthy's interpretation of ‘My Romance’ is filled with new ideas that only use the original Rodgers & Hart melody as an occasional guidepost.” Cadence Magazine For Creative and Improvised Music, 2/05
In the Spring of 2007 A Small Dream In Red, performed a series of workshops and concerts in Podgorica, Montenegro to an enthusiastic audience filled-to-capacity concert hall as well as an appearance on the television show Good Morning Montenegro. This unique duo is said to be the only one of its kind in the world and McCarthy has been acclaimed by her fellow musicians and some critics as the greatest atonal singer in the world with her ability to maneuver with ease throughout all the keys, never losing sight of the tonal center in perfect pitch and with an impeccable sense of timing!
In the recent past, 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 and she now carries on the bass and voice tradition with the remarkable Dominic Duval who is well know for his work with Cecil Taylor among others and his own group Trio X with Joe McPhee and Jay Rosen. 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. Also in 2000, Nora performed weekly with trombonist Kuumba Frank Lacy's Vibe Tribe at the Jazz Gallery in New York. Around this time, Nora began a musical collaboration with alto-saxophonist, composer, conductor Jorge Sylvester and became the featured vocalist in his and tenor saxophonist Benny Russell's Next Legacy Jazz Orchestra - a big band of incredible magnitude that was originally founded by tenor saxophonist, David Murray. With this orchestra, Nora had the honor of performing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and the Albany Jazz Festival before going on to establish her own 20-piece orchestra with Jorge Sylvester, The ConceptualMotion Orchestra.
In June, 2005, The ConceptualMotion Orchestra (CMO)opened the highly acclaimed avant-garde Vision Festival X at the Angel Orensanz Center in the East Village, NYC. The orchestra provides an excellent platform for McCarthy to present her ever increasing body of compositions and poetry which conveys a spiritually positive and uplifting message to the world. Conducted and arranged by Sylvester, CMO is quickly gaining recognition as “one of the freshest and inspiring large ensembles to emerge on the creative music scene in quite some time.”..Gary Giddins, The Village Voice, 2002
Through her vast experience in the jazz and creative music field, 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" ™ and currently teaches privately, conducts workshops and on-line consultation. (www.thezenofsinging.com)
Over the years, her ever increasing need to expand her own musical consciousness and convey a spiritual awareness through the music has been the main focus of her creative projects and poetry. Nora has penned lyrics to several jazz standards as well as for other musicians on the local scene and she is becoming known not only as a skilled lyricist but also as an outstanding poet. In 1994, Nora became a featured member of A Chorus of Poets founded by Master Conductor, Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris.
In April, 2008, Nora was delighted to be asked to perform at Flushing Town Hall’s first Jazz & Poetry Marathon, “Other Worlds, Other Words” alongside several outstanding artists from the world of jazz and literature, i.e. Julio Marzan, Michael Mossman Quartet, The Nat Jones Quartet, Ray Ramirez, The Asian Poets Collaborative, and the Poets Circle from New York’s five boroughs, which included Mireya Perez, Madeline Artenberg, Berty Barranco, Mark Blickley and Iris Schwarz.
“…A singer, bandleader, gifted composer, lyricist, improviser and poet, McCarthy is a consummate musician and artist. Hers is an instrument that doesn't subscribe to cliché. Her seasoned virtuosity and articulation reflect the years she has spent in developing her beautifully distinctive style. As an innovator and interpreter of the lyric, her voice is wrought with emotion. Her vast repertoire and innate sense of harmony combined with her understanding of sound, abstract form and design makes her a leader in vocal improvisation today. John Earl Powel son of jazz piano legend, Bud Powell
"...Nora's vocal identity, aside from a basic jazz orientation, defies classification, and makes spare use of reflexive stylistic mannerisms. In the placement of her voice, Nora can evoke the power of a Malian Diva's fearless candor, or perhaps a Corsican Voceratrice's call to invisible worlds in the language of dreams, or the earthiness of an early blues singer's unvarnished autobiographical witness. She has been attentive to the fluid articulation, phrasing and timbre of the jazz trumpet, the instrument that most clearly has influenced her vocal development. Her shaping of pitch often foregoes the fluid note-bending of the jazz singer in favor of the full press of a sculptor's touch against viscous clay." Ramsey Ameen, former violinist with Cecil Taylor’s Unit and 3 Phasis, mathematician and scholar. A Gathering of the Tribes Magazine, 2005.
- Creative Vocal Artist, Composer, Poet
An important force in the advanced New York jazz vocal scene, Nora McCarthy is a highly original singer, lyricist, composer, poet and educator. Her most recent recording, Circle Completing, is a set of lyrical duets with pianist John DiMartino that, in addition to being a tribute to the legendary singer Jimmy Scott, pays homage to Nora’s roots in standards while summing up her own colorful life to this point.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Nora McCarthy grew up in a family where music was heard constantly. “The earliest music that I remember hearing was by Ahmad Jamal when I was around five. My older sister listened to a lot of jazz which was the popular music at that time as well as to the early rhythm and blues singers such as Big Joe Turner (Shake, Rattle and Roll) and pop/jazz singers Jo Stafford and Patti Page. My mother loved Della Reese, Mahalia Jackson, and Billy Eckstine, who my brother Daniel, also a fine singer emulated. My family spent countless hours around the piano, especially during the holidays and on weekends. My father would inspire us to sing and dance, an Irish tenor, he gave up his dream of a career in music when the need to support his family took precedence.I started piano lessons when I was seven and, since my mother had a tremendous amount of sheet music, I taught myself the history of the American songbook.”
When Nora was 11, her father died and the family suffered through some hard times but, even though she had to stop her piano lessons, she continued developing her singing a capella and through singing background vocals with some local bands. Her biggest influences at that time were the r&b singers and jazz vocalists Nancy Wilson and Gloria Lynn. At 20, Nora got married for the first time and started raising a family. But when her father-in-law, who was a Hawaiian musician, discovered how well she could sing, she started working regularly with him, performing jazzy versions of Hawaiian folk songs, learning many of the songs phonetically. Although her marriage did not last, the experience reunited her with her original passion in music. She sang in an r&b group locally then in 1978 began listening to jazz exclusively and going to hear jazz at the clubs seven nights a week, appearing at a countless number of jam sessions and burying herself in the music. Soon she was leading her own gigs and within time became one of the busiest singers in the Cleveland area, developing her own fresh new approach to jazz improvisation.
In 1994, Nora McCarthy took the plunge and moved to New York City. “It took me some time to find the right players and the right situation. Early on I recorded red&blue;. I put together a great band with John diMartino - piano; Essiet Okon Essiet - bass; Alvester Garnett - drums; Mike Lee-tenor saxophone; and, Sato Takeishi - percussion. The CD came together quickly, in just three days. The music on red&blue;has been compared to the early Blue Note Recordings of the '60s and described as post-bop, noirish, poetic, ethereal and somewhat abstract. It includes some of the first compositions that I had ever written including some from when I was still in Cleveland. After making the CD, I got a gig right away at Birdland and The Five Spot and got invited back. Though never officially releasing red&blue;in the true sense of the word, mostly due at the time to lack of business savvy, it however continues to get great reviews and notice from around the world.”
A very important association for her during this period was with bassist Juini Booth. “Our music was open and free, but always informed, since performing in that capacity demands that you know what you're doing with respect to harmonic structure and form. We explored the music intuitively, expanding certain areas within the form and going into other dimensions before returning to the form.” Other major collaborations soon followed the main one being with alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester, who could be considered her musical soul-mate. “Jorge and I think along similar lines. I love taking the music outside although I also have great respect for the tradition which is where I come from. Jorge always had an air of greatness about him. He doesn’t copy anyone and is like an Eric Dolphy or an Ornette Coleman in that he is very original.”
In 2000 Nora returned to her roots and toured briefly with r&b blues legend Wilson Pickett. Later that year, she worked with trombonist Kuumba Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe whom she had met years earlier at a jam session at Cleopatra's Needle. In 2005, bassist Dominic Duval invited Nora to sit in with him at the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village. After that momentous musical encounter, Nora and Dominic started “The Beyond Words Voice and Bass Duo” which debuted at the Cornelia Street Café with many return engagements. They plan to record a CD in 2009.
Nora and Jorge's collaborations have resulted in several working creative projects. They recorded voice-sax duets for A Small Dream In Red, improvisations inspired by painter Wassily Kandinsky. “That is my favorite group,” says Nora. “We have performed many great places with our Duo, including Montenegro and Panama and the people loved and appreciated the music…we are planning to make another recording in the near future.” They worked together earlier with the Next Legacy Jazz Orchestra (David Murray’s former big band which was co-led by Jorge and Benny Russell) which led to Nora and Jorge’s all original music 20-piece orchestra ConceptualMotion. They created this orchestra in response to the need for more compassion in the world after the 9/11 tragedy. In 2005, ConceptualMotion Orchestra opened the Vision Festival X, in NYC's Lower East Side and appear regularly at the Baha'i Center, NYC.
The ACE (Afro-Caribbean-Experimental) Collective is a quartet led by Jorge Sylvester that explores advanced jazz along with Afro-Caribbean music. In addition, Nora is a featured member of Butch Morris’ Chorus Of Poets, leads the Nora McCarthy Qu’ART’et (using as her core trio pianist Pablo Vergara, bassist Jeffrey Carney and drummer Gene Jackson) and, as an educator, teaches “The Zen Of Singing…The Spiritual Path To Finding Your Voice.” (www.thezenofsinging.com)
Nora began writing poetry in 1978 and some of her poems are dedicated to Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Jeanne Lee, Abbey Lincoln and the avant-garde generation. She has evolved to writing lyrics to songs by J.J. Johnson, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Denny Zeitlin, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Scott La Faro, Jorge Sylvester, and Lucian Ban and has composed tributes to Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Grover Washington Jr. and, most recently, Jimmy Scott.
Nora McCarthy’s most recent recording, Circle Completing, was recorded pretty spontaneously in four hours. Comprised of three of Nora’s originals plus her fresh renditions of six standards, the set teams her with pianist John diMartino of whom she says, “I’ve known John since recording my first CD. No matter who you put John with, he sounds different than anyone else. He is extremely creative, has a great rhythmic concept, and can do it all. He knows how to be an accompanist without sacrificing his own artistic integrity. We have our own sound together.” A moody suite that deals with the evolution of life and the process of coming to a place of forgiveness, letting go and ultimately moving on to the next level, Circle Completing is also a tribute to singer Jimmy Scott. “Every day you have to forgive yourself and everybody. One has to concentrate on compassion. Jimmy Scott is the living embodiment of that, how he suffered and yet rose above it all.” The music starts with the optimistic “Come Fly With Me,” includes the soul ballad “To Be With You” (associated with Joe Cuba), a wistful and lyrical rendition of “Too Late Now,” “Hawaiian Wedding Song” (recalling Nora’s musical beginnings), a playful rendition of the blues “Little Red Rooster,” and her haunting original “In The Early Morning Light,” a freely improvised spoken word piece about infidelity and dealing with new realities. “The Shadow Of Your Smile,” a standard about lost love, has some of Nora’s most creative scat-singing. The memorable set concludes with her philosophical “Life Is A Song To Song” and her poetic tribute to Jimmy Scott, “Faith In Time (Jimmy’s Song).” For the future, Nora McCarthy states simply, “I want to tour much more and to continue to develop as an artist. It is important to me to continue exploring new music and to always remain vital.” On evidence of Circle Completing, her previous recordings, and her many diverse current projects; there is little doubt that Nora McCarthy will continue being one of the most vital of all jazz singers for many years to come.