Lucia's CDs

Steeped in Strayhorn


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Steeped in Strayhorn
Lucia Newell & Departure Point


Lucia Newell - vocals
Pete Whitman - tenor sax
Dave Jensen - trumpet and flugelhorn
Jeff Rinear - trombone
Laura Caviani - piano
Gordy Johnson
- bass
Phil Hey - drums

Produced by Steve Wiese, Lucia Newell, and Pete Whitman

Recorded live, Mixed and Mastered by Steve Wiese in the "A" Room at Creation Audio, Minneapolis, Minnesota


Your Love Has Faded - Strayhorn, Ellington
My Little Brown Book - Strayhorn
Daydream - Strayhorn, Ellington, La Touche
A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing - Strayhorn
I'm Checking Out, Goombye - Strayhorn, Ellington
The Intimacy of the Blues - Strayhorn
MéMé's Love Song - Pete Whitman
Passion Flower - Strayhorn, Raskin, Newell, Vaz
Just a Settin' and a Rockin' - Strayhorn, Ellington, Gaines
Take the "A" Train - Strayhorn, Tormé
Lush Life - Strayhorn
UMMG - Strayhorn
Something to Live For - Strayhorn, Ellington


“Ms. Newell digs into the Strayhorn repertoire with gusto and intelligence...’MéMé’s’ finds Lucia’s breathy soprano opening for his own [Pete Whitman’s] tender tenor statement, until she returns to join him in a slow dance... Lucia breathes stealthy eroticism into ‘Flower.’...

We’ve heard from Lucia Newell before (12/95, p.92), but never as abundantly as here and now. This Strayhorn ‘festival’ has been germinating for over a period of some years, according to this CD’s copious liner notes, and has finally borne very handsome fruit. Ms. Newell digs into the Strayhorn repertoire with gusto and intelligence, folding her vocals into the sturdy three-horn arrangements primarily by Pete Whitman (5/04, p.112), who calls his sextet ‘Departure Point.’ His writing is nicedly detailed, making optimum use of the voices at his disposal. If the results are not necessarily Ellingtonian in flavor, they are certainly always appropriate to the material at hand. Solos abound and the ensemble passages are voiced with lean post Bop economy. The sextet evinces a certain driving gestalt, in that it often sounds like something greater than the sum of its parts. Laura Caviani sits athwart a slashing rhythm section and spearheads the attack. Jeff Rinear slides through a burrowing instrumental ‘Intimacy,’ with Dave Jensen’s muted trumpet prodding underneath. Whitman’s own ‘MéMé’s’ finds Lucia’s breathy soprano opening for his own tender tenor statement, until she returns to join him in a slow dance. Lucia breathes stealthy eroticism into ‘Flower.’ Jensen plays some delicious smears behind the vocal at the opening of ‘Rockin’’ which builds with exciting inevitability. Lucia’s scat on ‘A Train’ is fluid and the horns reference some Ducal voicings, framing demon solos by all three hornmen. ‘Goombye’ is a hoot, full of swaggering joy and resolute optimism... Her ‘Lush’ bears the stamp of honest authority, just as her ‘To Live For’ fairly bursts with exultant yearning. Lucia Newell turns out to be one of those gifted vocalists whose conception and intelligence is transcendent. Add to that some well crafted and conceived arrangements played with snap, crackle, and the requisite pop, and you have over an hour of music that is alive with authentic Jazz affirmation. Strayhorn would be very happy and proud.”
Alan Bargebuhr, © Cadence Magazine, March 2005

“Newell breaks into a gorgeous Portuguese Translation of ‘Passion Flower’ on Steeped in Strayhorn, which shouldn’t surprise longtime fans. Nor should the fun-loving theatricality of her rendition of ‘I’m Checking Out, Goombye.’ Newell’s sense of humor is one of her onstage assets.”
Tom Surowicz, Avenues, September 2004

“ of the Upper Midwest’s most remarkable performers: the incredibly talented and much-admired Lucia Newell. Not only a Twin Cities audience favorite, she is one of those special vocalists whose talents are just as enthusiastically praised by the musicians with whom she works. Truly a musician’s singer, Newell is a total musician in her own right...”

“Strayhorn’s is an essential legacy, and Lucia Newell is a more than able interpreter of these works. This is beautifully demonstrated on her new Strayhorn-theme CD.”

“Co-starring and accompanying Newell for the concert, and featured on the CD, is the group Departure Point: Pete Whitman, sax/arranger/leader; Dave Jensen, trumpet/flugelhorn; Jeff Rinear, trombone; Laura Caviani, piano; Gordy Johnson, bass; and Phil Hey, drums. This group of Twin Cities’ legends offers just the right combination of skills, taste, and musical perspective to approach and redefine the Strayhorn song folio. Not incidentally, they are all great accompanists, ideally suited to the Newell vocal stylings.”
Arne Fogel, Jazz Vocalist and Radio Host, Twin Cities Jazz Notes, February 2005

“Backed by Pete Whitman’s all-star sextet Departure Point, singer Lucia Newell scaled new heights with her 2004 release Steeped in Strayhorn...”
Tom Surowicz, Star Tribune, February 2005

“The essence of Strayhorn, whose collaborations with Duke Ellington are the stuff of jazz legend, glowed in the album’s fresh arrangements, the entire band rising to the occasion. Newell infused the Strayhorn nuggets with her delicious insouciance, uncanny sense of swing, and her command of Brazilian music’s incredible lightness of being, most spectacularly in the samba-steeped version of ‘Passion Flower.’ “
Rick Mason, City Pages, February 2005

Steeped In Strayhorn is one of the best takes on Billy’s beautiful songbook since Ellington’s own deeply felt And His Mother Called Him Bill. Lucia Newell glows on this program. The intense romance, the super-sophisticated swing, the playfulness, the intoxication, the morbid streak – she gets it!...The material’s timeless. The singer is skillful and soulful. The arrangements are fresh. The band’s outstanding. Now the pleasure’s all yours. Enjoy! “
— Tom Surowicz, host of Monday Evening Jazz on KBEM-FM, and regular contributor to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Great tunes, great arrangements. Lucia really shines!”
— Kenny Horst, jazz drummer and owner of the Artists’ Quarter in St. Paul, MN

"Twenty-three year jazz veteran Lucia Newell is one of the most powerful vocalists on the Twin Cities scene."
— Courtney Lewis, Minnesota Monthly, July 2004

The Players:

Lucia Newell has sung in jazz clubs, concert halls and festivals around the world. She performed for two years at Clube 21 in Rio de Janeiro, six months at El Señorial in Mexico City, and in concert with the great Billy Eckstine, the Rio Jazz Orchestra, Oscar Castro Neves, Osmar Milito, Nilson Matta, Luiz Eça, Celia Vaz, Departure Point, and many others. Her appearance with the JazzMn Big Band in 2002 persuaded many audience members to suggest an early return engagement in 2003 with Paquito D’Rivera. Lucia spent years singing background vocals on recordings for Windham Hill, CBS, Warner Bros., MCA, GIA, Atlantic, A&M and Virgin Records, recording with Ben Sidran, Thelma Houston, Paula Abdul, Patty Austin, and others in London, New York, Los Angeles, Rio, and at home in Minneapolis. She can also be heard on local and national TV and radio jingles, and on a variety of children’s and teaching recordings. Lucia has received special recognition from the Minnesota Jazz Awards and released the critically acclaimed CD Enter You, Enter Love with guitarist Joan Griffith, now in its third issue, and is featured on Laura Caviani’s jazzy Christmas CD, Angels We Haven’t Heard. Visit

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Pete Whitman, arranger, composer and saxophonist, has been an active member of the Minneapolis/St. Paul jazz scene for the past fifteen years. He has performed with such distinguished ensembles and musicians as the Minnesota Orchestra, Jack McDuff, the Woody Herman Orchestra, the JazzMn Big Band, and is the leader of the Minneapolis based jazz sextet Departure Point. Whitman has recorded extensively as a sideman and has three CDs out under his name: Departure Point on Igmod Records, The Sound of Water and Where’s When?, both on Artegra. His latest CD, Where’s When?, features the X-tet, a ten piece ensemble led by Whitman which was named among the top 20 best locally produced CDs by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and received a four star rating by Downbeat. Whitman also teaches saxophone, improvisation and arranging at Musictech College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Dave Jensen is a member of Hornheads, an award-winning a capella jazz group. They have released two solo albums, and as a horn section, have recorded hundreds of tracks for artists all over the world. The Hornheads recorded nine albums with Prince and the New Power Generation, and toured and performed with Prince throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. Dave also spent three years touring internationally with the Artie Shaw Orchestra. His trumpet and flugelhorn can be heard on the recordings of Chaka Khan, Larry Graham, Lenny Kravitz, Babyface, Mandy Moore, Mavis Staples, Ben Sidran, Pete Whitman, Dave Graf, Ricky Peterson, the Steeles, Bruce Henry, Connie Evingson, Debbie Duncan, the JazzMN Big Band, and others. He’s a pit musician for musical shows and theatrical productions and is a first-call session player in the Twin Cities, where he has performed with touring artists such as Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Billy Eckstine, Natalie Cole, and Rosemary Clooney. Dave is a faculty member of Musictech College.

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Jeff Rinear, after touring with the Artie Shaw Orchestra, settled in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where he performs extensively. He has backed up numerous national acts in a wide range of musical genres, from Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, the Temptations, Natalie Cole, and Kenny Rogers, to working alongside jazz greats such as Jack McDuff, Dave Stryker, and Pepper Adams. He is one of the busiest trombonists in the Twin Cities, and his soloing has been hailed by critics in Cadence, Audiophile Audition, and in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Jeff can be heard on Pete Whitman’s Departure Point, The Sound of Water, the X-tet’s Where’s When?, and the JazzMN Big Band’s debut recording, and has played on many other recording projects and jingles. Increase Music, Inc. has published some of Rinear’s compositions, and he has written and arranged pieces in a variety of musical genres. He is currently the jazz ensemble director at the University of St. Thomas, and is highly sought after as a guest artist at clinics, festivals, and camps.

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Laura Caviani is revered as jazz pianist, composer and teacher. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune hailed her debut recording, Dreamlife, as: “ a word, outstanding.” Marian McPartland found it “...sparkling and inventive”. Her second release, As One, nominated for a 1999 Minnesota Music Award, was touted as “stunningly fresh” by Jazz Times. Her holiday album, Angels We Haven’t Heard, featuring Lucia Newell, was considered “this season’s finest new jazz CD of holiday music” by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Caviani performs and records regularly with Pete Whitman’s X-tet, and tours with Karrin Allyson. Her compositions and arrangements include numerous works for jazz ensembles and the sax quartet, JazzAx, as well as orchestral works for both the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra. Caviani is a first call studio and live performance artist.

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Gordon Johnson toured extensively with the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra, Chuck Mangione, Doc Severinsen, Roy Buchanan and the Paul Winter Consort. In the Twin Cities in recent years he has performed with many great jazz artists, including Joanne Brackeen, Rosemary Clooney, Herb Ellis, Scott Hamilton, Dewey Redman, Jim Rotondi, Diane Schuur, Ben Sidran, Marlena Shaw, Toots Thielemans, plus many local players. Gordy has produced two piano trio CDs which include a multitude of local and internationally known pianists and drummers: Gordon Johnson TRIOS and TRIOS V.2. His playing can also be heard on thousands of advertising jingle spots, films & CDs.

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Phil Hey has performed with many great Jazz musicians, including Kenny Barron, Charlie Rouse, Benny Golson, Benny Carter, Jay McShann and Dewey Redman. He has appeared on more than 50 albums and CDs, including the award-winning Von Freeman Live, Pete Whitman’s Departure Point, Gordy Johnson’s Trios, Laura Caviani’s Angels We Haven’t Heard, and Chris Lomheim’s The Bridge. He is one of the first-call live performance and studio session drummers in the Twin Cities, and can be heard almost every night of the week at the best jazz clubs throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul or touring around the U.S. Phil studied extensively with Ed Blackwell, and is now Adjunct at The University of Minnesota, and at Macalester College.

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Steve Wiese has been producing, engineering and mastering records and CDs for over 30 years at his studio, Creation Audio, in Minneapolis, and throughout the world. His credits include Platinum, Gold and other award-winning recordings of many national, regional, local, and numerous international artists. Steve has worked in virtually all genres of music from pop to jazz to various ethnic forms. Steve also continues to be in demand as a live concert engineer and front of house mixer.,

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