Five Questions With Carol Welsman

Six-time JUNO Award-nominated jazz vocalist and pianist, Carol Welsman has released her 13th album entitled Dance With Me via Justin Time Records, marking her foray into Latin jazz.

The selections include popular Latin standards adapted into English, Great American Songbook standards, original compositions, a Latin-flavored song penned by fellow Canadian Randy Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive, and a duet with multi-GRAMMY winning Latin superstar, Juan Luis Guerra on the title track and first single release, which is an English adaptation written by Carol of his song “Si Tú No Bailas Conmigo” (If You Don’t Dance With Me).

Carol’s co-producer, Oscar Hernández, is a four-time GRAMMY-winning composer and arranger. Given Oscar’s depth of knowledge of the Latin jazz idiom, Carol commissioned him to arrange all the music for the recording. She is surrounded by a stellar line-up of Latin musicians; Justo Almario on saxophones and flute, Joey de Leon on percussion, Rene Camacho on bass and Jimmy Branly on drums. The players hail from Colombian, Puerto Rican, Mexican and Cuban ancestry respectively.

Carol met Juan Luis Guerra a few years ago in Santo Domingo and told him how much she particularly liked his composition “Si Tú No Bailas Conmigo.” She wrote an English adaptation for it, and when Juan Luis heard it, he graciously accepted her invitation to guest star on the track.

Carol’s long-time Cuban drummer Jimmy Branly was instrumental in introducing her to Latin music, especially the music of Beny Moré; one of the most popular singers Cuba has ever known. Co-lyricist Jo Perry and Carol chose a number of these Latin standards and wrote English adaptations to them, Like “Y Hoy Como Ayer” (I Think Of You), “Como Fue” (Yesterday), and “Ya Llegó La Hora” (Time to Dance Cha Cha Cha). This is likely the first time these Latin classics will be heard by English audiences.

Welsman had the good fortune of meeting fellow Canadian Randy Bachman recently, and when she heard him sing “A Taste of Paradise,” she immediately included it in her repertoire. Randy, better known for his rock-influenced songs, was deeply inspired in his youth by guitarist Lenny Breau who actually introduced him to the bossa nova and the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Check out the album below and find out more about Carol via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

This is Carol Welsman, jazz vocalist and pianist. I am grateful and proud to be. 6 time Juno Award nominee. My home base is between Los Angeles and Toronto. I’m a true Libra, and yes, 5’11”! And I love latin jazz!

I am the granddaughter of the founder of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Frank S. Welsman. Music filled our house from the get-go. My mother taught classical piano before she married, and my Dad played clarinet and saxophone and piano by ear – all jazz. With three brothers who also had the gift of music, there was no shortage of variety of musical genres in the house. When one was listening to bluegrass, the other played reggae, while I was spinning my Dad’s big band and bossa nova records wondering how to figure out jazz and jazz harmony.

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

I have always been a songwriter, though on the side, and have enjoyed some success like having a song recorded by Celine Dion – Baby Close your eyes, written by Romano Musumarra with lyrics by yours truly. Jazz always fascinated me from when I was a teen. Studying this idiom at Berklee College of Music in Boston really created the foundation for my career. With 12 albums recorded to date, I have been the arranger and songwriter of two original songs per album, and it has allowed me to develop a signature sound. Bring a singer and pianist, we are in a kindred bunch, sharing the gift of creating musical magic with not only one instrument, the voice, but with two, by playing the piano at the same time.

Creating this new Latin jazz album “Dance with me”, my thirteenth recording has been a longtime dream of mine. For years, I have listened to my fans say how much they enjoy the Latin rhythms in my concerts, so I knew I was determined to make this dream a reality.

“Dance with me” is an eclectic collection of international music arranged with Latin rhythms, including salsa, boleros, cha cha cha and calypso; all the while keeping within Latin jazz and traditional rhythms. These songs include popular Latin standards adapted into English, Great American Songbook standards, original compositions, and a Latin-flavored song penned by fellow Canadian, the great Randy Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive.

For me, the piece de résistance on this album is the duet with multi-Grammy winning Latin superstar, Juan Luis Guerra, called “Dance with me”. I met Juan Luis a few years ago in Santo Domingo, where I told him how much I loved his song “Si tú no bailas conmigo”, among others. Recently, I wrote an English adaptation to it, and when he heard it, he was gracious enough to accept an invitation to sing a bilingual duet with me.

My dream of creating this special album has come true, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. I would like to personally thank all of my fans who pledged, for without you, this album wouldn’t be possible. I am eternally grateful. Finally, I must acknowledge my all-Latin band for your exemplary artistry; you contributed wholeheartedly to the recording of this album.

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

I actually have one confirmed show in Newport Beach, CA on August 17th, and a, 11 concert Japanese tour in May 2020! It’s a miracle this 2020 concert will happen after such a long period of silence. All the others have were canceled after March 14th.

Hearing me with my band for the first time, one could expect to be taken on an emotional jazz journey. I call it jazz with a spoonful of sugar. There is something in my performance for everyone.

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

By the time I get to Phoenix – I did a different take on this and the emotion runs deep

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

Diana Krall, Michael Bublé, and Matt Dusk

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