Multi-talented Jeannie Tanner launches her epic ‘Words & Music’

Chicago does not lack for engaging jazz trumpeters, vocalists, pianists, bandleaders, songwriters and arrangers — but how many can do it all?

Jeannie Tanner happens to be one. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to hear her pick up a horn, or sing a ballad or unveil an original song, you know that she practically exudes music. Which instrument she happens to be playing or whether she’s singing, or conducting or riffing behind someone else seems almost beside the point.

But perhaps her greatest skill — or at least the one that means the most to her — is her knack for writing songs in which lyric, melody, rhythm and harmony converge with apparent seamlessness. A couple of years ago, she made a profound impression at a Billie Holiday centennial concert performing a signature tune of hers, “Promise Me the Moon.” The piece proved so beautifully constructed that a casual listener might have assumed it was a well-established jazz standard.

And her “Joyful Season” album of 2013 showed that it’s still possible to create fresh, surprising holiday songs even at this late date. Tanner tunes such as the melodically inspired “You’re My Gift Forever” and the bluesy “Wintery Sort of Feeling” elegantly sidestepped musical cliche.

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Jeannie Tanner at 2014 Chicago Music Awards

Excerpt from Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune, September 10, 2015:

Jeannie Tanner: A triple-threat Chicago singer-trumpeter-composer, Tanner probably couldn’t play an unmusical phrase if she wanted to. When she appeared in a Billie Holiday centennial tribute last April at Davenport’s, she distinguished herself with unusually subtle vocals in “Body and Soul,” played trumpet with heartbreaking lyricism and showed the poetry of her songwriting in “Promise Me the Moon.” This time she has curated “Swingin’ with the Ladies at Pete’s,” a mini-festival of Chicago singing in which she’ll share the stage with vocalists Alyssa Allgood, Kimberly Gordon and Nicole Kestler from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday; and with singers Stephanie Browning, Elaine Dame and Petra Van Nuis, 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday; at Pete Miller’s, 1557 Sherman Ave., Evanston; no cover; 847-328-0399 or

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Excerpt from Dorothy Andries article, Chicago Tribune, August 7, 2015

Jeannie Tanner, a well-known Chicago-based jazz singer and composer, also is doing the show for the third time. She will sing Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul” as well as “Promise Me the Moon,” a song of her own composing. “Billie recorded so many songs with ‘moon’ in the title,’ she said. Among them are “Moonlight in Vermont,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Blue Moon,” “Moon Glow,” and “I Wished on the Moon.”

“So Daryl asked me if I would compose a song with ‘moon’ in the title,” she continued.”I had a something in the works and that’s the one I’ll be singing.”

Tanner has been a full time musician for the last seven years, including writing music for television. She heads the Jeannie Tanner Quartet, which plays regularly around the Chicago area.

“The people producing ‘Ladies Sing the Blues’ are really great,” Tanner said. “And the acoustics in the Skokie Theatre are fantastic. We love working there.”

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Excerpt from Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune, April 8, 2015

“By sharp contrast, Jeannie Tanner could not have sounded more sophisticated in her phrasing or nuanced in her vocals in “Body and Soul.” That she made her own tune, “Promise Me the Moon,” sound like an established standard and played trumpet with comparable lyricism attested to her uncommon versatility as a Chicago jazz musician.”

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Howard Reich – (Reviewed 12/17/14 – Chicago Tribune) Jeannie Tanner: “Joyful Season” (Tanner Time Records)

“Trumpeters who sing as well as Chicagoan Tanner are as rare as singers who play trumpet as well as she does. Both these talents — as well as Tanner’s achievements as songwriter and arranger — radiate from the entirety of “Joyful Season,” a recording brimming with optimism and hope. The sweet but unsentimental nature of Tanner’s vocals in original songs such as “Christmas in a Cup” and “Joyful Season” and the obvious craft of her melodic writing in “You’re My Gift Forever” and the blues-tinged “Wintery Sort of Feeling” distinguish this album. It’s difficult to explain how one artist can do so many things so well, but listeners will be thankful that she does. Because “Joyful Season” was released last year to little fanfare, it deserves attention this time around. And though at least one listener could do without some of the over-reverb on certain cuts, the strength of the writing and pervasive elegance of the performances make up for it, and then some.”

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