Grace Kelly at the crossroads
Brookline High student on the rise
There comes a time for child stars when they face a crossroads: the challenge of transferring potential into talent, hype into achievement, and promise into reality. Some announce their arrival with a dominating performance a la Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters, and some fail the challenge and end up an E! True Hollywood Story.
Fourteen year old saxophonist Grace Kelly of Brookline is approaching those challenges, and she is responding more Tiger than THS. With the release of her third album, Every Road I Walked, she is showing the jazz community, and the music world in general, that she is ready to shed the prodigy label and embrace her status as a legitimate artist.
But first, a little background. Grace plays alto and soprano sax, has since she was ten, and also sings, arranges, and composes. She has played with, and earned significant praise from, saxophone giants like Lee Konitz and Phil Woods, and has traveled all over the country and around the world, most recently to Norway. She is very, very good.
Her new album shows what she is capable of musically, but more impressive is the way her youth shines through, like in the engaging funk of her own tune “Filosophical Flying Fish,” her playful take on the classic “Summertime,” or her wonderfully expressive “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Grace explains, “arranging is a new thing for me on this CD and I found that to be really fun because there are so many deliveries. There’s so much to do, you can use any feel and I’ve had a blast doing that.”
Maybe Grace’s youth allows her to look at jazz traditions and see endless possibilities, but when she talks about composing she sounds much more mature: “I love composing because I just feel like when I compose it’s a way to get your feelings out and express what you feel to the world. It’s one thing to interpret a standard, which is great, but it’s another thing to have your own music which comes from inside and share it with everyone else.”
Grace has been playing with anyone and everyone, gaining experience in the blues from harmonica-rocker James Montgomery and experience with her peers from the Brookline High School Jazz Band. “Each environment is very different. Playing this raw, amazing blues stuff is awesome cause I’m really learning. I enjoy playing whatever it is, whenever it is, just cause it’s all different.”
When asked if, after three albums, she feels like a pro, Grace laughed, saying, “I really don’t. I feel like there’s always so much to learn. I look at people’s long careers and all that they’ve done and I realize that there’s so much more for me to do. I’m excited just to explore new things. I’m proud of what I’ve done; I just know that there are a lot more paths.”
Where some see a crossroads, Grace Kelly sees many paths.
Grace will be playing at Sculler’s Jazz Club in Boston on Saturday March 17 and Wednesday March 21 before beginning a residency at the KennedyCenter for Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Details are available at www.gracekellymusic.com.