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rita di ghent
"la maestra"

Comments about the artist's music

song excerpts:

signs of spring in my neighborhood

he's funny that way - jazz habit

so what - so what, the funk!

just like a woman

The number of women bandleaders with staying power in the Canadian jazz scene can probably be counted on one hand. The number of women bandleaders of longevity who invent their own musical style is even less -- Rita di Ghent is one of those rarities.

Reviews of her debut album, "Mindin' the Shop" -- a neo-traditional tribute to her musical influences -- all decreed Rita a unique voice. Her latest project marks the birth of a jazz style of her own invention: "Sprawl". Whereas Sprawl shares features with other swing, funk and hiphop styles, its uniqueness lies in the incorporation of melodic, harmonic or lyrical elements from classic repertoire. For example, di Ghent's Signs of Spring ... (recently licensed to the U.K. major label "Time Warp") is modern-day beat poetry with a bass-line that paraphrases the theme of Spring is My Joy, an intro that borrows from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and horn shots devised from other jazz standards about spring.

Sometimes shifts gears from a her interpretation of jazz standard into a groove invention that expands upon the standard's lyrical content; e.g. Whiting and Moret's "She's Funny That Way" becomes Ghent's "Jazz Habit". Miles Davis' "So What" (lyrics penned by di Ghent) becomes "So What, the Funk!" McCoy "Tyner's Search for Peace" informs di Ghent's "Peace Conspiracy".

The beginnings of Sprawl took shape as far back as 1989 when Rita started incorporating contemporary urban music into jazz standards. Rita was struggling to reconcile the need for the thematic content of vocal jazz to evolve and the need to retain the "jazzness" of the new compositions. It's often been pointed out that one of Rita's distinct feature is that she doesn't just limit herself to singing about love relationships. Her lyrics delve into the realness of her inner-city world: poverty, prejudice and hostility that exist alongside humanity's longing for spiritual evolution.

About the Artist
Since 1990 Toronto-based Rita di Ghent has enjoyed a professional career as a jazz bandleader, vocalist, composer and teacher. She made her New York performance debut in 1993 as a special guest with Verve recording artist Mark Ledford; she formed her indie label, Groove, in 1995 and released her debut CD, "Mindin' the Shop". Her new release on the Groove label, "The Birth of Sprawl", was produced by Nick Blagona (Dizzie Gillespie, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Roberta Flack, Barbara Streisand and others).

Rita has studied with many great musicians at several highly distinguished institutions and holds BFA and MA degrees. She regularly produces and performs in large-scale shows. Some of her recent productions include "Two Generations of Jazz", a double-bill with bebop great, Sheila Jordan, "the Great Jazz Piano and Voice Series", and "The Canadian Independent Jazz Vocal Artists (CIJVA) Showcase". In the summer of 1998 Rita toured with the self-written and -produced show "Great Ladies of Jazz". In 1999 Rita undertook a 10-city Canadian jazz festival tour and was nominated for the prestigious Montreal Jazz Festival's "Prix de Jazz".

You may contact Rita at:

Rita di Ghent
c/o Franz Wong
Groove Productions
192 Seaton Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2T4 Canada
(416) 921-7819 tel
[email protected]


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