Ann Hampton Callaway brings classic movie jazz to Vail with Wednesday and Thursday night performances
Special to the Daily
Having juggled singing, song writing and acting throughout her storied career, it makes sense that Ann Hampton Callaway would dedicate an album to some of her favorite – well … everyone’s favorite – tunes from classic motion pictures.
“Jazz Goes to the Movies,” Callaway’s 16th studio album, pays homage to hits like “As Time Goes By” from “Casablanca,” “The Way You Look Tonight” from “Swing Time,” “S’Wonderful” from “An American in Paris” and “Blue Skies” from “The Jazz Singer.”
Her live performances often also feature jazz tunes Callaway herself has sung on film soundtracks: “Come Rain or Come Shine” from “The Good Shepherd,” “The Nearness of You,” from “Last Holiday” and “Pourquoi,” an original song she wrote for “Blind.”
As a Theatre World Award and New York Cabaret Award winner, plus a Tony Award nominee, Callaway says the fusion of music and film has “enchanted” her all of her life. In kind, the multi-talented artist has been enchanting audiences for decades with her rich vocal delivery of originals, “Great American Songbook” classics and theater, film and TV numbers. Having composed and performed hundreds of songs for everyone from Barbra Streisand to Robert De Niro, Callaway returns to Vail on July 24 and 25. She’s bringing “Jazz Goes to the Movies.”
Here are a few things that set Callaway apart from other artists:
1. She views “The Great American Songbook” as the soundtrack of her life.
“These songs came in a golden age of writers who were writing mostly for Broadway and film. So they were writing for real situations, songs that had to advance the plot of a character in a timely, important, universal situation. I feel like these songs become more beautiful with time. They’ve become to me the things that understand us better than each other sometimes. They give me great comfort and I’ve learned a lot about life through them,” she said.
2. She presents each song like a story.
“My musical approach begins with the story and the lyric and where I’m going to be singing it – with a symphony orchestra, in a jazz club, in a foreign country. Usually the feeling I get from a story, from the words, dictate what I do with it. Since we’ve heard so many renditions of the [same] songs by great artists, to me it’s important to help people not take the words for granted and not take the story for granted. When my sister and I were putting our show, “Boom!,” together and songs from the ’60s and ’70s, people were so used to singing along that they didn’t even think about them any more. We had fun finding ways to articulate the lyric in a way that people felt moved by it.”
3. She feels extra inspired when she performs in Vail.
“I just love the people. I love how much they love this music. It’s a great community of people who have come to support jazz. The beauty of the mountains inspires my performance, even though it’s harder to sing because of the oxygen situation. I usually take a couple hits of oxygen before I go on stage.”
4. Her personal playlist runs the gamut.
“I have a very eclectic record collection. I listen to jazz. I love Brazilian music. I listen to a lot of instrumental music, singer/songwriters, some of the old songs I grew up with – Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor …. I’m broadening my list all the time.”
5. She always aims to surprise.
“When I perform, I want every song to be something I can’t wait to sing. If I’m going to sing a love song, I want it to be one of the most beautiful, powerful love songs anyone has ever heard. I want it to surprise people a little bit. I want people to feel brand new when they leave a night of music … refreshed and human all over again.”
6. Being all of the things – songwriter, singer, actress and composer – makes her feel complete.
“I think my dad once told me that if you want to live a happy, fulfilling life the more you can combine all the things you’re good at, the happier you will be. I think that’s what’s been especially rewarding about my career. I’ve been able to interpret music, create music and my philosophical side as a person, my humorous, silly side, the side that wants to enter different personalities … all of these interests lend themselves to a career in music. Singing has been the most natural, but writing is how I think. Acting to me – I was an acting major – it’s been a great part of my foundation as a singer to step into a story of a song and make it come alive. All of these parts of me are important.”
7. She made her surprise feature film debut in Robert De Niro’s “The Good Shepherd.“
“First of all, I didn’t expect to be in the movie. I thought I was just going to be on the soundtrack. Working with Robert de Niro recording the song, he directed me in every take and I did a large amount of takes because he’s so meticulous. We had fun in the green room talking about “The Great American Songbook.” When I got the call the next day that he wanted me in the movie, I was just beside myself. I loved working on the set with Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. Robert de Niro insisted I call him ‘Bob.’ He took a special moment to introduce me to the stars.
IF YOU GO…
What: Ann Hampton Callaway’s “Jazz Goes to the Movies” at the Vail Jazz Club Series and Vail Jazz @ Vail Square
When: Wednesday, July 24 at 5:30 and 8 p.m. for the Jazz Club Series; Thursday, July 25 at 6 p.m. for the Vail Square performance
Where: Wednesday in Ludwig’s Terrace at the Sonnenalp Hotel; Thursday at the Vail Jazz tent in Lionshead Village
Cost: $40 for Wednesday’s shows; $25-$50 for Thursday’s show
More information: Visit vailjazz.org or call 970-479-6146.
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