Sunday, February 10, 2019

There Will Be A Special Sweetness to This Week's Valentine Events at the O with Sarah Greer

"I help singers sing what they need to say."--Sarah Greer

Improv vocalist Sarah Greer is featured this coming week
for several evenings at the Oldenburg House.
There are many reasons people like jazz. One is simply the pleasure one gets from music itself. A second is the pleasure we receive when we witness virtuosity. A third, and one that is almost exemplified in great jazz, is the unexpectedness and beauty of improv.

Here's a description from

Jazz improvisation is the process of spontaneously creating fresh melodies over the continuously repeating cycle of chord changes of a tune. The improviser may depend on the contours of the original tune, or solely on the possibilities of the chords' harmonies. It has been said that the best improvised music sounds composed, and that the best composed music sounds improvised.

I think this is why so many of the great jazz recordings come from live performances in clubs. The great genius of players like John Coltrane and Miles Davis is this ability to weave a spell into the improv realm so that all the players are improvising around a theme that got the whole riff started but now is only assumed. Listen to Kind of Blue. Listen to how they establish the theme and then begin springing off.

Actually, this was my own early fascination with the supergroup Cream with Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton. Jack Bruce. Jack Bruce, who became fascinated with jazz in his teens, fused his background with Clapton's blues mastery to produce great new sounds and concerts with incredibly robust improv, my favorite being captured on sides three and four of Wheels of Fire.

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All this to introduce you to this week's featured performer at the Carlton Room this coming weekend, Sarah Greer. In addition to giving private voice lessons Sarah Greer teaches singing at Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC).

"I practice, study and teach the art of spontaneous singing," she says.

The thing about vocal improvisation is that it's not for some elite person who's "got it" but rather, something anyone can learn who can carry a tune. (Ms, Greer might even suggest that you can still contribute if you can't carry a tune.) On her Songtaneous Blog one entry is "8 Lessons from Improvising." Group improv singing is collaborative, not competitive.

When you attend a typical jazz performance at the Oldenburg House (or elsewhere) you will see and hear individuals working together to weave a fabric of background that serves almost like a trampoline to propel the singer to the zenith of his or her skills. But its also a mutual respect society, and a team.

I think what surprises some people is how sometimes a new performer comes to Oldenburg House and even without a rehearsal the fluidity of the show comes across as if they'd spent a month preparing. How do they do this? Because it's that jazz methodology or approach.

Sarah Greer's career revolves around teaching this improv sensibility. "I'll share what I learn and experience while traveling in the intuitive, joyful, beautiful, expressive, challenging, abstract world of vocal improvisation."

Improvisational performance is the world she most enjoys swimming in. For this reason she is part of a couple of Twin Cities improv groups including the a capella ensemble the Give Get Sistet and a jazz quintet called BLU-7.

Here are a couple quotes from Ms. Greer's website that illuminate where she's coming from.

"I am passionate – some might say evangelical – about every person’s right to sing and the power of singing to change the world."

"I help people find out what they are 'supposed to sound like' so they can find a unique and joyful place from which to sing, whether they sing on stage, in the studio or in the shower."

In other words, it's really all about you.

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Valentine's Day at the Magnolia Salon

Sarah Greer will also be the featured guest with musician/singer Steven Hobert at Thursday's Magnolia Salon. Together they will explore, play, ponder and expound on the power of improv and their love of music. The duo will present and lead songs, improvisations and conversation.

Steven Hobert describes himself as a soul who plays, sings and dances while exploring life’s mysteries. His genre-blending piano, accordion and vocal music has been described as “delightful, innovative and viscerally inspiring” that “dazzles audiences with sincerity and playfulness to open up hearts and fire imaginations.”

February Salon Schedule and RSVP HERE.

For Sarah Greer tickets visit
Stay connected to what's happening in 2019 at Oldenburg House: OACC.US

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