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Rebecca Jenkins-Renaissance Woman

Rebecca Jenkins re-imagines the standards and crafts a new chapter for herself

By Shelley Gummeson


“If music be the food of love, play on” - Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Envision floating down a river in France with your lover, your life partner. Now, hear the music that flutters inside you, the gorgeous melodies and fabulous lyrics that bubble to the lips. Classic songs that can’t be contained but must be played, sung, and shared. It sounds like the most romantic of stories. That is the true story of how Rebecca Jenkins’ new album Blue Skies, took its’ first breath, and it couldn’t be more perfectly scripted.

“The jazz album, well, Joel and I were floating down a river in France, on a chartered river boat a couple of years ago, and that’s where this album came from. We were just playing and started singing some jazz tunes and we were having so much fun. We thought why not just go in and do this CD. These songs are so fabulous.” Joel Bakan, professor, author and musician is also Rebecca’s life partner and shares in her appreciation of beautiful melody and strong lyric.

“With Blue Skies we took these twelve standards and tried to un-standardize them. These days people think of standards as ‘oh, that old standard’, but they are unique and very special songs. Our approach was I'm a singer. I've always sung and to express myself through music, melody and lyric is incredibly natural for me. to keep it very simple and keep the truth and purity of the songs, to present them very simply because they don’t need much adornment. They are fabulous pieces of music.

The songbook of jazz standards is vast, so how does a singer choose one song over the other? Rebecca Jenkins tells how the choice was made. “It was a very organic process. We just chose songs that we loved. I mean I love Jobim and so does Joel. Then, you know the funny thing is, after we recorded the songs and listened back, we realized that every song is a love song. I loved every aspect of the production. I mean we have incredible players on it, Al Matheson is so wonderful on the trumpet and flugelhorn. Liam MacDonald just came back from Brazil where he studies with a Brazilian percussionist and drummer, so he really brought the flavor to Jobim. We didn’t need a bass player because Joel has a technique where he comps the chords and plays the bass line.” The album contains two songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim. “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)” and “Once I
Rebecca Jenkins "Blue Skies"
Loved”. The arrangements on this album are very clean and nothing overwhelms the other. “We didn’t want to impose anything on the songs. We wanted to bring the listener to them,” says Rebecca.

While the album Blue Skies offers one side of Rebecca Jenkins, her live shows showcase another. “In our live show, we play these songs and we have some of my original work, some interpretations of more cross over styles. It’s livelier. The next album will reflect that.”

Rebecca is no stranger to live shows and even livelier road trips. She has recently played to sold out audiences at the renowned Cellar Restaurant/Jazz Club in Vancouver and has toured with Jane Siberry and Parachute Club. When asked if there were any road trip stories she could share, she gave a throaty “Oh yes…”

On touring with Jane Siberry, Rebecca reveals a love affair with garlic and the impact on those poor souls who were not garlic aficionados. “We were big garlic eaters. Oh yes, we would bake whole heads of garlic and make these really disgusting sandwiches. I don’t know how health conscious it was, but peanut butter on bread with this roasted garlic spread. Can you imagine how horrendous it would be to interview anyone with that kind of breath? What weren’t we thinking!”

“We had a kind of Spinal Tap moment. The cult classic, music mocumentary [This is] Spinal Tap was always playing on the tour bus. We had a moment like that, where the band was trying to get to the stage, you can hear the fans cheering and ready and you’ve been announced. But you’re in the bottomless cavern of this building, the boiler room’s there, and you have to cut through here and we get lost. It’s just silly things…”

Rebecca Jenkins is a celebrated Canadian actress as well, and continues to act in television and film. It was her award winning role in Bye Bye Blues where the two worlds of acting and music converged. When asked how she There is a character within each song. The writer is trying to tell a story and I respond to it. handled the duality of the role, this was her response: “I am a singer. I’ve always sung, and to express myself through music, melody and lyric, is incredibly natural for me. Basically I’m an interpreter. Whether it’s from my own thoughts and feelings or whether it is a script, it’s really all the same. There is a character within each song. The writer is trying to tell a story and I respond to it. ”

Today Rebecca Jenkins says she has come to a place where she is trying to be as much of herself and present to the creative music expression that is evolving within. A strong story that is entwined within an unforgettable melody is one of the things that drive this remarkable woman. With Blue Skies she has added another chapter to her life’s musical book. The next installment is currently being lived.

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