At only 15-years-old, pianist/composer Emily Bear has achieved the kinds of accolades and triumphs that take many artists a lifetime to accomplish. She’s performed at the most prestigious venues across the country and around the world, received numerous awards and honors, composed for film and television, made six appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, garnered 30 million views on YouTube, played at the White House, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, been mentored by the legendary Quincy Jones – and that’s only a partial list.
Now, with the release of Into the Blue, Bear brings us new original jazz compositions performed with her trio. The album comprises five of her original compositions plus a warm, graceful take on “My Favorite Things” that hints at the immortal John Coltrane version before veering off into dazzling variations. Exuding Bear’s own exuberant passion for music, Into the Blue is both accessible and appealing for listeners of any age.
Bear follows the chart topping success of her first album, Diversity–produced by her long time mentor, Quincy Jones–with this inspiring collection of new melodies. Her agility on the piano is matched by her skill in creating stylistic compositions – catchy, intelligent, and sophisticated.
Bear has composed and arranged for orchestra, written for film and commercials. And while she continues to expand her musical palette, jazz holds a special place in her heart. “What I love so much about jazz is that you have a lot more freedom than in classical music,” Bear says. “Jazz has a groove that doesn’t show up in any other kind of music and I enjoy using all my musical influences to create a unique sound, familiar yet new.”
Throughout Into the Blue, Bear expresses herself joyfully and elegantly, clearly thriving on the interplay with her gifted trio-mates: Bulgarian-born bassist Peter Slavov–a member of Joe Lovano’s Us Five band–and Toronto native Mark McLean–who has worked with George Michael, Billy Joel and Michael Feinstein–on drums. Bear was introduced to Slavov through famed producer Quincy Jones when she was just eight years old, and McLean joined in three years ago, solidifying a profoundly interactive and celebratory line-up. “They’re amazing musicians and they can jump back and forth between a lot of the styles that I write,” she enthuses about her bandmates. “On top of that, they’re really great guys.”
Into the Blue opens with “Old Office,” a piece that won Bear a Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award from the ASCAP Foundation in 2016. Named for the New York City rehearsal room in which it was composed, “Old Office” moves with an alluring groove that Bear digs deeply into with an eloquent, deftly weaving solo. The gentle sway of “Je Ne Sais Pas” follows, a tune that spotlights the delicate, sensitive dynamics of the trio. “Indigo,” captures the translucent melancholy of the piece in a single word.
The shimmering “Araignee” is adapted from Bear’s score for an animated film about a game of one-upmanship between two French spiders crafting increasingly elaborate webs inspired by great artworks. The final original, “Tiger Lily,” is highlighted by the lively rhythmic dance between Bear and McLean. The album closes with the aforementioned “My Favorite Things,” a longtime favorite through which Bear displays her unique blend of wisdom and innocence – she’s a musical old soul who retains a sense of wonder more befitting her age.
Into the Blue is dedicated to Quincy Jones, who discovered the young pianist when she was seven, taking her under his wing and producing her debut studio album, Diversity. In her dedication, Bear calls him a “constant inspiration as a musician and a person,” and expands on that notion by referring to Jones as “one of the biggest influences in my life. We connect because he shares the same kinds of musical passions as me – he’s done every style of music in every possible scenario. Quincy is a walking encyclopedia of music, but he’s also the most down to earth, sweetest person I’ve ever met.”
“It’s so much fun to collaborate and communicate with the other musicians,” she says. “I really enjoyed creating the songs for Into The Blue and bringing together all my musical influences to create a new sound in jazz. It is an incredible feeling that you can’t get anywhere else.”
About Emily Bear:
Bear has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival and Jazzopen Stuttgart, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Blue Note in both New York and Tokyo. She’s currently featured on the Disney Channel, sharing her love of jazz, and is planning a European Tour for 2017.
For a complete career biography on Emily Bear, please click here.