Nora McCarthy is a composer, poet, lyricist, an adept and exhilarating improviser, and educator.
"An intrepid and experimental vocalist, with a sound reminiscent of the great voices and horns in jazz. A devotee of classic jazz, global rhythms and the fine arts, McCarthy is a musical colorist eager to push the envelope." Carlo Wolff
"On her newest CD, blesSINGS, she gets in plenty of memorable scatting, and emotionally, she expresses herself in different ways: as a performer and lyricist, as a composer, an arranger, and as a formidable scat singer." Alex Henderson, Jazz Inside Magazine
“There are many fine solos heard throughout the set with the singer taking her turn next to the instrumentalists. The music includes moody ballads and heated romps. Nora McCarthy’s adventurous improvising is on a high level along with the intelligence of her lyrics, making blesSINGS, one of her most rewarding recordings.” Scott Yanow, L.A. Times 9-2016
A unique and original singer, poet, songwriter and innovative improviser, she is an important force in the advanced New York jazz scene since 1996 when she recorded her first of thus far eight CD’s, red&blue with John diMartino, Essiet Okon Essiet, Alvester Garnett, Mike Lee and Sato Takeishi. Winner of the 38th Annual Jazz Station Awards Best Jazz of 2016 in two categories, Female Singer and The Best Vocal Jazz CD, blesSINGS, McCarthy’s musical roots run deep. Her burnished alto voice is rich with a distinctive style that cuts a broad swath from soul, rhythm & blues, jazz, Bebop, post-bop, and the free, avant-garde idioms but her sound is reminiscent of the great voices and horns in jazz.
Nora currently leads the following creative ensembles: The People of Peace Quintet, The Nora McCarthy OrganicTrio with guitarist Marvin Sewell and bassist Donald Nicks, The HeartStrings Project – performing the music of the most poetic singer/songwriters of the past fifty years, Nora McCarthy Qu’ART’et a modern jazz group rooted in tradition that melds original music with reimagined standards, A Small Dream In Red Expressionist Voice and Saxophone Duo, Manna For Thought Improvising Trio and The Modern Voice Ensemble – An experimental vocal group that implements McCarthy’s concepts for composition and improvisation.
McCarthy is a member and co-founder of: ConceptualMotion Orchestra, a 20-piece all original music big band; and a member of the following ensembles: the Jorge Sylvester ACE (Afro-Caribbean-Experimental) Collective and its Extended Edition w Strings (Double CD Spirit Driven recorded in Austria and released in 2013); Composer/Conductor/Trombonist, George Brandon’s Blue Unity Ensemble – a CD Toward the Hill of Joy, was released in 2013. Nora was also a member of Jay Clayton's "Different Voices " 2014-2015 and a featured member of renowned Conductor, Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris’ A Chorus of Poets (2005-2010).
Notable musicians Nora has performed with most recently include Jazz Legends: Bassist Reggie Workman, Vibraphonist Warren Smith, renowned Tubist Jose Davilla, Drumming Great, Ronnie Burrage, Drumming Legend, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie.
Nora is a former member of Kuumba Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe 2005. She recorded and performed with multi-instrumentalist Gunter Hampel’s European Trio; and, performed with the Next Legacy Jazz Orchestra spearheaded by Trombonist Craig Harris and Tenor Saxophonist Benny Russel 2001.
Nora also has performed with the following outstanding jazz and creative musicians in her various groups and others of which she is a member: SAXOPHONE: Hayes Greenfield, Jay Rodriguez, Salim Washington, Craig Harris, Tim Armacost, Willie Smith, Mike Lee, James Stewart, Gene Jefferson; TRUMPET: Waldron Mahdi Ricks, Duane Eubanks, Josh Evans, Michael C. Lewis, Matt Shulman, Mac Gollahan, Chuck Mackinnon; Trombone: Al Patterson, Curtis Fowlkes, Steve Swell: TUBA: Aaron Johnson, Jose Davilla, Marshall Gilkes, Terry Greene; BASS: Jeffrey Carney, Santi Debriano, Gene Torres, Juini Booth, Matt Pavolka, Jennifer Vincent, Andy McCloud, Calvin Hill, Reggie Washington, Ken Filiano, Essiet Okon Essiet, Donald Nicks, Hill Green, Dominic Duval; VIBRAPHONE: Bill Ware, Gunter Hampel; PIANO: Ray Gallon, Mike Longo, James Hurt, Lucian Ban, James Weidman, John diMartino, Andrew Bemkey, Eric Lewis, Pablo Vergara, Donald Smith, Carlos McKinney, Chip Crawford, Joshua Wolff, Tom Pernice, Richard Clements, Rahn Burton, Neal Creque, ACE Carl Carter; GUITAR: Marvin Sewell, Marvin Horne, Andrew Green; Barry Wedgle, Ron Affif, Dom Minasi; DRUM: Ronnie Barrage, Kenny Grohowski, Elliot Humberto Kavee, Dave Gibson, Gene Jackson, Derrik Phillips, David Silliman, Dafnis Prieto, Michael Wimberly, Mark Johnson, Francisco Mela, Jay Rosen; AFRICAN PERCUSSION: Neal Clark and Elymi Byrd, including the legendary Blues and Soul man, Wilson Pickett.
Nora graced the highly-coveted cover of the 2016 February/March issue of Jazz Inside Magazine as the featured artist; Nora was also 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. In addition, she was featured in Biltin, a jazz magazine in Podgorica, Montenegro.
MORAL SUPPORT by Bill Considine @JumpStart Staged Reading Series at Medicine Show Theatre, NYC, April 30-May 1, 2018, DIRECTOR, Félix E. Gardón ;
JAZZ STORIES w/ David Haney and Bernard Purdie, Steve Swell, Yael Archer Modiano, Adam Lane, at The Public Theater/Joe’s Pub February 2017;
GREEK MYTHOLOGIES – 2 PLAYS – Loves of the God Pan and Circe, 2017, The Medicine Show Theatre, 549 W. 52nd Street, NYC; 2-person production/collaboration with David Elyha: Actor, Storyteller, Writer – Music by: Nora McCarthy;
LISTEN TO ME -- AN OPERA – (Music by: Rainy Orteca - Text by Gertrude Stein),12/3,4/ 2016, Medicine Show Theatre, 549 W 52nd St., New York, NY 10019.
A sold out performance with the Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective Spring 2016 in Northampton, Mass. for Jazz Shares, at the Parlor Room.
A sold out concert at the illustrious Brucknerhaus in Linz, Austria debuting her original poetry as well as new compositions with Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective;
Podgorica, Montenegro with A Small Dream In Red, for Jazz Month as well as an appearance on Good Morning Montenegro.
McCarthy performed twice at the annual ISIM (International Society for Improvising Musicians), in 2013 with Jane Ira Bloom and her global ensemble at Roulette, Brooklyn, NY
ISIM Festival, 2014 with her innovative voice and saxophone duo, A Small Dream in Red at New School University, NYC;
Vision Festival, NYC, 2005 & 2010 with the ConceptualMotion Orchestra and Butch Morris’ Chorus of Poets respectively;
The Will Connell Memorial Residency at The Stone and St. Peter’s Church, NYC with the ACE Collective, in December, 2014 and January 2015 respectively.
Nora also hosts a jazz radio show for Cadence Jazz World (http://www.cadencejazzworld.com) called, “Nora’s Jazz Show” featuring the music of creative jazz and avant-jazz, world jazz and both new and old works, established and emerging artists, musicians from around the world.
Nora (MIC~ART Productions) produces Take It OUT!! Tuesday, a creative music series presenting the finest established and emerging artists, instrumentalists, vocal artists, visual and movement artists, and poets at the lelgendary Medicine Show Theatre on 52nd Street in NYC.
Through her vast experience in the jazz and creative music field, Nora has developed a comprehensive 13-pronged approach to teaching voice, improvisation and career development. She is founder of, The Modern Voice Studio © and The Spiritual Path To Finding Your Voice ™ and currently teaches privately, conducts workshops, and master classes.
*McCarthy has penned lyrics to dozens of jazz standards and countless other compositions by other artists including her own original music.
**McCarthy's has been writing prose, poetry and word art for several decades which are intermingled with her other singing and vocal improvisations at her performances and in conjunction with her original compositions and those of the other projects and artists she is involved with. Her living poem, "Today In America" is one such work that began in 2001 is a time lapsed look at ongoing events written in a protest poetic style with a broad and far reaching scope: government, politics, societal, racial, and cultural issues, civil and human rights, and environmental issues, with prophetic and philosophical overtones, anger, and outrage. Written for the composition of the same title composed by alto-saxophonist, Jorge Sylvester.
**McCarthy' has written over 30 compositions some are tributes to: Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Grover Washington, and Jimmy Scott, others are graphic compositions, soundscapes and poetic architectures.