Jocelyn Medina: The Melody of Feeling
"...To watch Jocelyn perform or listen to her sing on disc is a miraculous experience. Whether she is singing straight-ahead jazz, Latin jazz, or Afro-Brazilian music; whether weaving wordless vocals into Indian raga modes, or even operatic arias into song, her pacing is unerring throughout, no matter how slow or fast the tempi markings in the music. The sense of bringing a narrative to life is utterly persuasive."
- Hot House Jazz by Raul D’Gama
"...Medina composed nine humid and provocative vocal excursions permitting her pliant vehicles on which to apply her subtle voice and arrangement talents... Medina has no fear of experimentation with her voice... This is music with a sensuous heartbeat, serious music of depth."
- All About Jazz by C. Michael Bailey
"I’m truly impressed with this new release, and give Jocelyn and her players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. She’s a master in the jazz genre… this new aural adventure is one she can be very proud of!"
- Improvijazzation Nation by Dick Metcalf
"What’s immediately evident from Medina’s sultry, smoky alto voice is how effortlessly she can incorporate the two genres, while her flexibility of rhythmic phrasing points at jazz vocals over a large span of history, the way she can incorporate Indian vocal techniques is masterful… “Common Ground" represents an accessibility that will bring new fans to the fold… Her rich voice and story telling abilities add a breathe of fresh air to a genre where often the same standards have been cast… vocalists like Jocelyn Medina willing to try different things will always be a welcome addition to the palette."
- Jazz Views by CJ Shearn
"Jocelyn Medina finds Common Ground on her new Running Tree Records CD on which she sings, produces and arranges nine of her own tunes set to an Indian beat and utilizing flutes, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, tabla and percussion... The result is jazz mixed with raga and it's absolutely delightful."
- Aquarian Weekly Rant 'n' Roll by Mike Greenblatt
"A great set of original songs by Medina that mix contemporary jazz harmonies, Indian melodies and Ghanaian rhythms… delightful!"
- World Music Central by Angel Romero y Ruiz
"Vocalist and composer Jocelyn Medina mixes messages of universal unity with a voice of richness."
- Jazz Weekly by George Harris
"...always melodically pleasing."
- JazzMostly by Bruce Crowther
"A jazz artist whose compositions encompass the musical ethos of many different cultures… A Voice seductive, delicate, resonate, and crystalline – a major humanist who happens to communicate through singing. (5 stars)"
- Amazon by Grady Harp
"One can also hear her originality in the variety of styles—from rhythmically complex scatting like Flora Purim, to the beautiful ballad with the cool sound of the electric piano nicely performed by Art Hirahara... enjoyable and unique..."
- Jazz Life by Keizo Takada (Japanese) ...(English Translation)
"The aesthetic ideals developed by New York vocalist and composer Jocelyn Medina are based precisely on the feeling that jazz is a kind of lingua franca where the different idioms, accents and cultural expressions merge as it appears represented around the world… Medina's fundamental proposal goes so far as to describe a multicultural landscape with an epicenter in jazz that combines musical elements from Brazil, Spain, Ghana and India, lyrics that reflect a Buddhist worldview and strong social consciousness and a profound vocal style of its own that combines influences inherited from Flora Purim and Joni Mitchell… Jocelyn Medina in Common Ground, starting with heterogeneous materials, builds a homogenous and inclusive musical story that promotes the importance of being able to find unity in the diverse and the diversity of the whole."
- El Intruso by Sergio Piccirilli (Spanish) ...(English Translation)
"Medina offers the jazz listener a musical journey that takes the foundation of Latin and Jazz idioms and successfully redefines the experience with thought provoking lyrics and vocal abilities far beyond the norm. Medina uses her voice as an instrument, storyteller, and invites the listener to delve into the corners of their mind with lyrics that reflect life and human conditions. Medina is a masterful lyricist, composer and vocalist. Certainly, all of her training was a strong foundation, but to Medina’s credit – she has taken that foundation and built a skyscraper, shining in the NY sun, with We Are Water."
Constance Tucker, All About Vocals
"… Composer, Lyricist, Vocalist and Vocal Instrumentalist Jocelyn Medina serves up her sophomore release We Are Water with effortless intricacy and an international flavor. Her compositions are lyrically epigrammatic and musically engaging. We Are Water is much more than a vocal jazz release, it is a reminder that jazz lyrics have a future of deeper lyrical meanings and the ability to combine positive thought provoking moments with word and music. Her meanings are moving, substantive and leave you pondering a deeper place in yourself. Backed by an outstanding ensemble, We Are Water delivers musically and vocally. Simply, outstanding!"
Geannine Reid, Ejazz News
"Jocelyn Medina is her own vocalist sounding like no one else, and yet, showing flickers of jazz and pop in her torch-like resonance. Her new album “We Are Water" extols a symbiotic bond between jazz-blues and ethereal pop as she moves through a repertoire packed with romantic nuances and calming aesthetics that cling to her vocal melodies and blanket her voice in elegance."
Susan Frances, Yahoo!
"Jocelyn Medina is a unique voice in Jazz. She writes all her own lyrics and these mix social commentary and philosophical comment in the form of her songs, something similar to what the recently departed Scott Gill-Heron did with his more overtly political raps set to music. But here the vocals are set to music rippling with Latin rhythms and Jazz trappings. Her vocal style is rather idiosyncratic, with her voice taking on the characterization of the instruments, singing down in amongst the instrumental voices rather than floating above them. It's fair to say that Ms Medina is cutting a new form of contemporary Jazz, one that is more personal than many listeners may be used to. But they should open their ears and try this new talent."
John M. Peters, The Borderland (UK)
"The foundation of Jocelyn Medina’s album We Are Water is a strain of jazz that began in the 1960s, and flourished in the 70s and into the 80s. For lack of a better term, there was a “cosmic consciousness" that some artists would embrace, that would eventually lead to new age music. Medina goes back to the roots of this. Musically, she strips down the style, and arranges it for a mostly acoustic small jazz combo that really cooks. In her lyrics, Medina talks about her relationship with the forces of nature, but she does so in a (pardon the expression), completely natural way. Her soprano floats along with the band, but she also has enough grit in her voice to make this real. And that’s the key. Medina believes in this material, so she doesn’t have the need to oversell it. More than anything, what comes through is her joy. The listener can not help but feel it as well."
Daris Rip, Oliver di Place
The Great Vocals of Jocelyn Medina
"…You may not be familiar with her name but you should be. Jocelyn Medina is a world-class jazz vocalist and composer. This album showcases Jocelyn's vocal talents very well. With the varied styles of the songs and the great musicians she got to play on the album, it is sure to be well received by both critic and fan alike."
Bruce Von Stiers, BVS Reviews
"Jocelyn Medina's jazz styling's are pleasant yet retain enough edge to be challenging. "Cosmic" has some things to say about the human condition, and Medina's languid vocal style sits well with the cool backing. "My First love Song" is a ballad with plenty of vocal expressiveness from Medina, as she recalls Diana Krall. "Same Mistakes" gets Bodek Janke to show his skill as a percussionist while Medina sings in a relaxed way. "Close to Home" sees her pour her heart out, to a soft setting complete with a flute. She has a great voice and its well used here. It's a great album."
Anna Maria Stjärnell, Luna Kafé Record Review (UK)
"Possessed with a voice that recalls Flora Purim, Ms. Medina fuses Brazilian, Spanish, African and Indian sounds with a jazz heart. The CD is all original material, all of which is strong, and she is ably backed by Rodrigo Ursaia on tenor sax and flutes, Kristjan Randalu on piano, Aidan Carroll on bass and Bodek Janke on drums and percussion. This wordless number is an eye-opener."
Jeffrey Siegal, Straight No Chaser
"Funk, samba, smooth jazz, all that and more can be found in Jocelyn Medina album We are water. All compositions are by Jocelyn Medina except "April 4th" a piece with a touch of samba. "Cosmic" is a slow funk with sharp saxophone improvisations. Medina's beautiful voice, at times similar in style and phrasing to singer Basia, may be fully appreciated in the jazz ballads "My first love" and "Natural". In "Time and place", also with samba influences, and "Same Mistakes" the similarities with Basia are more evident. "Feel free" is a Bluesy jazz ballad and for sure one of the highlights of the album."
Wilbert Sostre, JazzTimes®
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
"With the release of her third album, Common Ground, still fresh with resonance, New York-based vocalist Jocelyn Medina turned the open space of Jazz at Kitano into her own vibrational field for a celebration of birth and everything that spins from it into life. Joining her wavelength were pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Evan Gregor, and drummer Mark Ferber, who in concert brought an immediacy to music that was otherwise wrapped in timeless themes. Such impulses were only emphasized in her original "Cosmic," a smoothly contoured and groovy entity who shone with sparkling profundity, and "Two But Not Two," a beautifully intoned expression of duality in all things. Treading the line between within and without, she and her bandmates set a tone of reconciliation of spectral opposites, as also in the Indian raga-inspired "Simple" and the title song of her latest CD, through which she communicated an overarching message: faith and love are as universal as those things seeking to destroy them both.
"Slow It Down" rounded out her self-penned selections with neo-soul flair, practicing the very reciprocation it preached. Yet even the ways in which Medina navigated songs lifted from other songbooks proved her capable of making everything she touches her own, as evident in her treatment of Brazilian material. In both the wordless comforts of Hermeto Pascoal's "April 4th" (her birthday song of choice) and the rainbow palette of Pixinguinha's "Lamentos," she evoked much-needed warmth for this year's as-yet-distant spring. Such contrasts of fantasy and reality abounded in her take on Rodgers and Hart's obscure examination of naivete, "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," and in her soulful rendition of Leonard Bernstein's "Big Stuff." In each of these, she tilted her vocal magnifying glass just so, until the emotional joss paper of each lyric gave up its ghost for every memory gone into its making.
Through it all, Gregor brought melodic fortitude, threading the improvisational needle only where it felt most appropriate, while Ferber adapted his playing to the needs of every context, his moods ranging from tactile to airy and back again. Hirahara, for his part, brought hefty yet crispy playing to the fore, switching from delicate comping to vivid solos on a dime. A poorly chosen metaphor, perhaps, because ultimately this performance was less about material pleasures than our collective need to shed their attraction in favor of larger questions that only music can answer."
Tyran Grillo, All About Jazz, April 11, 2018
"Jocelyn Medina is a vocalist/composer with a fresh sound, agile vocals, and a spiritual perspective. Her show at the Zinc Bar in New York City on October 29, 2014 was a set of original music with Medina on vocals, Pete McCann on guitar, Zack Lober on guitar, and Paul Wiltgen on drums. This date featured her new music, all unreleased, which she hopes to record and release this coming winter.
As jazz singers who write their own material go, Medina seems to inhabit a few stylistic influences, but leans mostly toward music that grooves. Her conversational lyric-writing style, mostly in first person, is direct and doesn’t mince words. I was drawn in to the way her words fit effortlessly over the wide-ranging melodies as they told a story, usually one that Medina explained to the audience beforehand. Her message is intentional, but not preachy. Topics ranged from experiencing personal breakthrough via hardship and the strength of friends who had lost everything to the over-psychoanalyzing of simply being human and the inter-connectedness of all things.
Medina has fine control over her instrument and a bright, extroverted sound that reminds me of Erika Badu or the edginess in Billie Holiday’s voice. At other times, her sound is softer and warmer as she draws me in to reflect on more personal or existential things. These vulnerable moments are quite endearing. She was comfortable on stage, pouring tea for herself and taking her time, making me relax and enjoy her show.
Her compositions fuse jazz with pop, in the best sense of the word. There is plenty of back-beat groove in her set to get heads bopping and her scat solos are rhythmically focused as well. Many melodies sound similar to horn solos as they scale and jump around. All of this arranged with thoughtful hits from the band and well-timed breaks to fuel tension and release. There were sweet moments of guitar-only accompaniment and the guitar doubling the melody with her voice. McCann and Lobber on the bass contributed exciting solos that did not overshadow the context of the songs. Wiltgen gave subtle, strong support on the drums. I’m interested to see how her band develops with the music over time."
Ashley Daneman, Live Vocal Review, New York City
"(Jocelyn) sings with delicate vocal subtlties, which when presented live translate into a fantastic journey of textures and spaces reflecting the latest developments in jazz."
El Mundial, Jazzparla, Spain
"…(her) seductive voice transforms each live performance into an authentic multicultural experience…demonstrating her remarkable finesse in the renovation of musical styles and genres."
Fundación Canal, Spain
Jazz-blossoms, Multicultural and Full of Groove - On European tour for the first time in Germany: Jocelyn Medina
"For the first time on tour in Germany, the jazz singer and composer from New York left a vocally expressive, instrumentally top-class calling card at her klag-debut. On top of that, one that is impressively stylistically versatile, as her mostly original repertoire feeds itself on pulsating multicultural influences. The resonant voice of Jocelyn Medina is equally well-suited for Jazz harmonies with elements from pop and funk, as her metallic-crystalline timbre for throaty scat-insertions and headstrong improvisations."
Badisches Tagblatt, Germany
Cosmopolitan Flair at the River Murg
"New York's established vocal artist Jocelyn Medina's strong voice is versatile, melodious, and never fails to surprise. The audience was visibly absorbed by her sound, and she succeeded in capturing and inspiring the crowd with jazz music and all of its facets. During her debut concert in Germany "which will always stay in her memory as a special place," she takes the people to a sound-world of jazz, world music and bossa nova, filled with her philosophical lyrics. In the midst of her own music she covers songs of Brazilian artists and brings the easiness and joy of this fun-loving country to the Klag-Bühne. She brought her favorite musicians on tour, pianist Kristjan Randalu, percussionist Bodek Janke and bassist Antonio Miguel, who are amongst the most sought-after young musicians of today's jazz and world music scene. Jocelyn Medina and her band may still be an insider tip in Europe, but it certainly won't stay like that for long."
Beatrix Ottmüller, BNN-Badische Neueste Nachrichten, Germany
Joyful Samba from New York
"American vocalist Jocelyn Medina gave a convincing performance at Alte Feuerwache Mannheim, showcasing impressive compositional abilities. She writes beautiful, expressive melodies, and challenging vocal lines with adventurous leaps of huge intervals. She presented a number of compositions from her recent album, among others the funk and soul-styled "Cosmic" and the title song "We Are Water," in which poetry meets expressiveness. "Same Mistakes" was a rather minimalistic concept - it gained excitement by repeating sparse motifs and rhythmical variations. In the song "Natural" Jocelyn Medina sang "Relax, be natural and enjoy yourself". In deed, this singer definitely has a serenity, naturalness and joy for life. She impressed her audience with an amazing charisma and a great backing band, but especially with the wonderful songs she writes."
Von Rainer Köhl, Mannheim, Germany
"Jocelyn Medina is not only one of New York’s most promising vocalists, but also a terrific composer She’s obviously capable of singing just about anything, but she uses her talent with an admirable maturity. Her distinctive compositions mix jazz with R’n’B, the music of South America as well as African elements."
Linus Wyrsch, breakthroughradio.com
"Jazz Singer Jocelyn Medina talks about her latest 2017 album Common Ground, her childhood in New York and over the years traveling to Ghana, West Africa, Salvador, Brazil, and Mumbai, India. All of these travels and her education has given her a solid backbone in the world of music and her life...
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