I had the great pleasure of seeing Nancy King perform at Edmonds-Woodway High School on May 28th with Steve Christofferson and again at a JazzVox concert with Glen Moore on June 13th. If there is a jazz heaven (and I am sure there is), then Nancy King would be the reigning Godmother (pun intended). People have said that she is the greatest living jazz artist on this planet and her remarkable career has taken her all over the world. She initially came into the San Francisco jazz scene in the early 1960’s and headlined the legendary Jazz Workshop with her future mate, Sonny King. She worked also with Vince Guaraldi, John Handy and the great Jon Hendricks, whom she studied with for many years. In the early 70’s she took a break from touring the States to raise her three sons in Eugene, Oregon. On weekends, she sang with future jazz stars Ralph Towner and David Frisen, and became great friends with Glen Moore, the iconic bassist for internationally renown ensemble “Oregon”. Her collaboration with Glen led them to record three albums on the Justice label, “Impending Bloom”, followed by “Potato Radio” and “Cliff Dance”, released in 1994.
Nancy King also was performing with vaunted pianist/composer Steve Christofferson, and in 1993 they released a duo album “Perennial”. They went on to perform at festivals in France, Israel, and Canada and in 1997, Mons Records released “Straight into your Heart” featuring Nancy and Steve with the Metropole Orchestra, recorded in Holland. In 1999, Nancy toured Italy with famed bassist Ray Brown and superb guitarist John Stowell, and in the summer of 1999, she and Steve Christofferson flew to Bulgaria to headline the Bansko International Jazz Festival.
In recent years, Nancy has collaborated with acclaimed vocalist Karrin Allyson and the eclectic guitarist/poet Elvis Costello, and in 2006, recorded a duo release with brilliant pianist Fred Hersh entitled “Live at Jazz Standard” in NYC. Through the years and still today, critics rave about her absolutely thrilling improvisations and flawless technical wizardry. Nancy enthralls audiences with her effortless scatting and supple voice and injects great humor and pathos into everything she does. If you have only heard about her, she is an awe-inspiring luminary in person – take it from me.
Her jazz duets with Steve Christofferson (on piano and melodica) May 28th were nothing short of spectacular and they complimented each other as if they had never been apart for some years before. She shone at her best on “All the Things You Are” by Jerome Kern, and Steve was equally mesmerizing on the tune “Sugar” by Stanley Turrentine.
Nancy King then performed with her other long-time partner, famed bassist Glen Moore, at the JazzVox concert in Auburn on June 13th. Nancy was her fascinating yet unassuming self with such witty satires as “Cliff Dance” and “Alligator Dancing”, as well as the exquisitely poignant “Crooked Road”. Glenn Moore accompanied her with great care and gave a brilliant display of his robust approach and dazzling “special effects”. I am still reeling from the wondrous experience of seeing Nancy perform so gracefully with Steve and Glen – Both evenings were sheer ecstasy and magic that I will always remember in my heart!