Howard Reich, Music Critic for the Chicago Tribune spoke about Jeannie’s music for the story: “She’s picked some of the best singers in Chicago. There are a lot of singers, but she’s picked these great singers and they’ve agreed to collaborate with her, so when you have any album that has Paul Marinaro and Tammy McCann and Typhanie Monique, and so many other superb vocalists in one place, that’s rare. And because Jeannie is kind of a musical chameleon, she adjusts to the framework of wherever she is of the moment, she can write music for these artists.
This project says a lot about Chicago. This project could not have been created in Dayton, Ohio, or New York or Los Angeles. It is a uniquely Chicago project. It’s about Chicago jazz today. And because those artists obviously have such respect and admiration for Jeannie, because she knows who they are, she’s kind of giving us a vocal portrait of what Chicago sounds like in jazz these days. There’s a long tradition of singing coming out of Chicago – Mel Torme, Anita O’Day, this is nothing new. But what Jeannie is giving us is a sonic portrait of music in Chicago today, and it’s a very beautiful one.”
There’s been the usual post award commentaries and op-ed pieces comparing the work of the two entertainers and their artistic merits…whatever. :/ But I would beg to offer another perspective. What I saw in Adele was an artist who is humble and grounded enough to shift the spotlight away from herself and shine it on another artist who she respected in an unexpected moment. And this ability to bridle the ego in a business where at every turn there is such fierce pressure to be the only artist left standing – it is an exercise in self-transcendence to say the least – but more than that, you just don’t see it that often in a business that can be driven by immense competition and hype.
I say all of that to say this…when I first realized I wanted music to be my life and profession I was honestly scared shitless. I knew it was a brutal business and I feared my heart too faint to survive in it. I prayed to meet and connect with the kind of people that had substance and integrity; and then God answered that prayer by also sprinkling in some real assholes so that I could really know what substance and integrity actually looked like in action. Needless to say, when I do make meaningful connections in this business I feel eternally grateful and blessed – and one of those connections as of late has been with singer/songwriter, Jeannie Tanner.
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.