Fay Claassen

Label: Challenge Records
Format: CD
Barcode: 0608917330120
Catalog number: CR 73301
Releasedate: 03-09-10
The big sound of the vast orchestra which accompanies Dutch jazz diva Fay Claassen (WDR Big Band & het Rundfunk Orchester with arranger/conductor Michael Abene) is like a warm bath: it sounds so good and relaxing and is energizing and exciting music as well. A grand cd!
  • Fay Claassen won the first “Chet Baker Award“, got two nominations for the “Edison Award“ and won the “All About Jazz“ Critics Poll in New York as best vocal release 2006
  • Fay Claassen recorded five CD´s as a leader with: Toots Thielemans, Mike Stern, Kenny Werner, Barry Harris, Bert Joris, etc.
  • A jazz singer of international stature and allure
  • A jazz diva with a grand cd!
It does say a lot that Fay Claassen is recognized, worldwide, by music critics as a jazz singer of international stature and allure. The greatest jazzdiva of the Netherlands is part of the younger generation vocalists and her new cd one can call 'grand', figuratively ánd literally speaking.

First there is this immense, big orchestra that is accompanying Fay: more than 120 people. In other words this is a BIG Big Band, consisting of WDR Big Band & het Rundfunk Orchester with conducter/arranger Michael Abene. Then there is the repertoire of great female vocal icons: from Ella to Björk and a lot of other famous ladies in between. This all makes the cd a big and extraordinary musical journey around the world. The choice of repertoire makes perfectly clear that Fay Claassen has a very broad musical interest. The fact that she sings also songs of for instance Joni Mitchell and Björk is a very pleasant surprise! Her interpretations are full of conviction and with a high doses of authenticity she makes these songs totally her own.

Cadence in the USA once wrote: “Fay Claassen is to singing what Audrey Hepburn was to the movies: elegant and graceful“. These words are also applicable to this new cd, where women have the leading role. Actrice Audrey Hepburn had a enormous and natural class and that is also a very important characteristic of Fay Claassen.
Before Fay Claassen  (Nijmegen, 1969) started her singing career, she studied ballet and  drama, after which she finally opted for singing as her chosen subject. In 1997 she completed her conservatory education in The Hague with distinctions for jazz-timing and improvising ability. After her conservatory period she appeared as vocalist in different groups and toured through different countries in Europe. Her first recording ‘Simply Be’ was released with a band together with the saxophone player Carolyn Breuer. She was guest in different groups ‘The Tony Overwater V-Group’, Loet van der Lee Group, ‘Big Moves’ and with ‘The Amsterdam Jazz Quintet’ she recorded on the album ‘Playground’.

In 1999 Fay Claassen was chosen by ‘The Jazz Impuls Foundation’ as their first selected musician. This foundation supports and promotes jazz musicians deserving wider recognition and produced in that year her first own album (‘With a Song in my Heart’ CHR 70096 (presently sold out)). This album almost instantly nominated for an Edison-Award and was received with highly enthusiastic reviews. It was the first step to a real break-through.
Just after the release of that album she was asked to be part of a tour through Japan with ‘The Historical Dance Theatre’ in which she performed as a dancer and singer. Apart from the wonderful sound of her voice Fay stood out as a singer. She is one of the few to add an extra dimension to her vocal performances, by being able to improvise with her voice as an extremely versatile instrument. Fay is in every setting one of the group as a musician. In 2000 Fay featured on the North Sea Jazz Festival (The Hague) with the Tony Overwater group. She became a teacher at the Conservatory of Rotterdam (CodArt). In 2001, as the only European vocalist, she was chosen and invited by the Selection Committee of The International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) to perform in Los Angeles the next year, and Fay’s second album ‘Rhythms and Rhymes’ (BMCD 380) with Toots Thielemans, Kenny Werner, Mike Stern and Joe Locke, was released. A few months later she recorded this very different 3rd album ‘Specially arranged for Fay’ with The Millennium Jazz Orchestra.

In 2005 she participates in “Two Portraits of Chet Baker, vol.1&2” (BMCD 497), a 2-cd set with Jan Menu, Hein Van de Geyn and John Engels, that received a first ranking in U.S. magazine 'All About Jazz'.