Jul 16, 2013 - Amy Cottingham and Friends Take Jazz Depot Stage Sunday


            There’s only one site on the entire World Wide Web, and it belongs to the first Amy in the world to claim it: Tulsa musician and composer Amy Cottingham.

            Actually, she didn’t claim it herself. It was her forward-thinking father who got it for her, “years and years ago,” she explains, “when the Internet first took off.”  And while she admits that it’s sometimes not kept as up-to-the-minute as it could be, even a cursory visit to the site shows that the young artist is a significant musical force in the community, and has been for quite a while.

            Her considerable influence extends to the Jazz Depot stage, where she has put together several shows over the past few years. And, like their predecessors, the one she has planned for Sunday, July 21, dubbed Amy and Friends, is designed to showcase not only a variety of artists, but a broad sweep of musical styles as well.

            That starts with Cottingham herself, whose solo repertoire will include both jazz and classical pieces as well as a self-penned offering, which she says falls somewhere between those two idioms.

            “It’s hard to describe my compositions,” she notes. “They all have really tight harmonies, and they’re a little bit minimalistic, maybe. I write out the majority of the notes on paper. It’s very meticulous. But I always wind up improvising a little bit on the basic ideas.”

            The “Friends” part of the program includes three well-known area vocalists who work regularly with Cottingham: Booker Gillespie, Chris Middlebrook, and Annie Ellicott.

            “Booker will do one or two songs, maybe not standards, but pop-jazz-like,” she says. “Chris and I do straight Broadway stuff, musical theater. And Annie and I will do one of her original songs, and one of my brand-new originals, and we’ll do an original by Nathan Fifield. He’s the former Tulsa Ballet conductor, and his wife’s a fabulous violinist. They’re living in England right now. For years, Annie and I have performed from a book of original jazz songs that he and his brother wrote. They’re just gems, perfectly written, and everyone loves them.”

            Also on the bill, she adds, is a section of tango music, which she’ll perform with violinist Ronnamaria Jensen, a member of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. 

            “We’ve been playing tangos for the tango community here in Tulsa, while they dance, so we’ll also have some dancers with us,” Cottingham says. “We’ll play songs by Astor Piazzolla, the foremost Argentine tango composer in the world. He’s incredible. We’ll do more than Piazzolla, but he’s the main attraction. And we’ll have two or three couples on stage, dancing the Argentine tango.

            “Then,” she adds, “I have an old friend who just moved back to Tulsa. Her name is Laura Berman, and she’s a fabulous pianist. She’ll be playing a Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt and “Ghost Rag” by William Bolcom. It’s a newer, modern rag with a twist, and it’s really interesting.”

            In addition to that lineup, and along with other possible guest musicians, Cottingham has decided to give four of her piano students an opportunity to take the Jazz Hall stage.

            “It only occurred to me recently, `I should get them on stage. They’re incredible,’” She says with a laugh. “So two of them will play strictly classical repertoire, and then I have two young ladies who’ll be playing their original compositions. Two will perform in each half of the concert.”

            It’s nothing if not a variety show, and that’s just the way Amy Cottingham wants it.

            “I really enjoy giving an audience variety,” she says. “Often, if people come to a concert expecting one thing, they’ll be surprised find out they enjoy one or two other types of music they wouldn’t expect to enjoy. A show like this one serves to not only broaden our horizons, but also to give us more of a feeling of community. It brings us all together.

            “And I like giving people a stage when I can,” she concludes. “I’ll perform some of my own stuff, but it’s so wonderful watching other people walk up there and get the attention when they might not normally have that sort of spotlight.’ 

            The Amy and Friends concert is set to begin at 5:00p.m. Sunday, July 21, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street.  Tickets can be purchased at the Jazz Depot or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15.00, reserved table seating $20.00. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10.00, and high school and junior high students for $5.00. 

            Amy and Friends is a part of the Jazz Hall’s Summer Concert Series.

            The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.