Vocalist NICOLE PASTERNAK operates below the national radar as she carves an ever-growing niche with jazz enthusiasts in the Northeast. JazzTimes’ critic Chuck Berg described her as “reminiscent of a young Ella…the brightest young jazz singer I’ve heard since Bobby McFerrin…” Her repertoire embraces the powerful traditions of Swing songs, bebop, Brazilian, ballads and the Big Band Era. She is also a songwriter and lyricist.
The Norwalk Hour said, “Her stage presence is like chemistry, an almost uncanny ability to reach out and pull listeners into the music and make them want to stay there.” She is praised for her ability to improvise, but ultimately appreciated for her good sense of lyric delivery, her intonation, phrasing, rhythm and time – and for the musician-like ways she infuses her sound within an ensemble, be it big band or duo.
Most often compared to singers like Peggy Lee, Anita O’Day and Billie Holiday, she favors the Great American Songbook – often served up under the influence of Brazilian and Latin rhythms, and punctuated by the inclusion of her original songs. Through her husband, master tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama, she has pursued the bebop lexicon as well and their appearances together are effectively spiced with arrangements for sax and voice.
Ms. Pasternak enjoys steady appearances in several popular Connecticut and Westchester (NY) jazz venues either fronting her own groups or as the featured vocalist with a number of area bands including the Harold Zinno Quintet, Joe Holmes’ Swing Band, and the orchestras of Sonny Carroll and Virgil Scott. With the Bill Cofrances Quartet she not only keeps busy in jazz clubs but also in fund-raising concerts for health charities. She is a perennial favorite at NYC’s Birdland with Lew Anderson’s All American Big Band.
Herself the mother of two, she has lent her talents to a number of projects for children. In addition to in-school performances, she has collaborated on the SoundWorkshop recordings released in Korea to promote English language education for children and as a participant in the “Songs of Love” organization has created personalized songs for terminally ill children. Her inspired song, “The Baby Is Here,” was chosen in 1997 as the theme for the Adoptive Parents Committee of Long Island, NY.
Recordings include “Winter Samba” (1987), an album of original work and “Nicole/The Song Is You” (1989), a CD for Cexton Records. She is featured on a recording by Charles Haynes, “Paris/Rio Express” (1996) that demonstrates her range from improviser to chanteuse and debuts her lyrics to Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages.” On her CD, “Don’t Go, Don’t Leave, Please Stay” (1998), she teams up with the Alan Simon Trio and Ralph Lalama of the famed Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Joe Lovano Nonet.
2006 saw the release of her latest CD, “In A Word,” on the Garagista Music label. It features Don Friedman on piano, Dennis Irwin on bass and Ralph Lalama on tenor sax, who also produced the recording.
Nicole Pasternak continues to write and record her new material while she promotes herself and her fellow musicians through concert, radio and nightclub appearances.