May 01, 2012 - Angie Cockrell's Versatility Keeps Her on Track

Angie Cockrell's Versatility Keeps Her on Track

A lot of promising musical careers get snuffed out by the realities of simply growing up and taking care of life’s business.Jobs and children and making ends meet take precedent over microphones and stages, and youthful dreams are derailed forever. 

Sometimes, though, a former musician is lucky and determined enough to get back on track somewhere down the line. And that’s surely the case with vocalist Angie Cockrell, who, a few years ago, took up where she left off as a youngster.

“I’ve been singing seriously for seven or eight years now,” she says. “My beginnings were more classical, operatic, contemporary Christian. But I had to put it on the shelf for a while.

“Music’s always been a love of mine, and I always wanted to do something seriously, not just on the side,” she adds.“I got back into it when I was teaching kids Christian music, and we were doing services at church. That’s when I decided to go back to it and take lessons. So I started doing jazz, and I started recording.”

Her first CD, the contemporary-Christian themed Good Things, was released about a year ago. Her second, a jazz disc called Color Me Blue, “will be coming out any time now,” she says.

In addition to jazz and contemporary Christian, Cockrell has built up a sizable country-music repertoire as well.“I love some of the classic country – Patsy Cline, Patti Page – so I’ve worked some of those songs into what I do,” she explains.

Sunday, Cockrell will be working with the well-known pianist Chuck Gardner, who accompanied her in her Jazz Depot show last year.

“She’s quite versatile,’ says Gardner, no stranger to versatility himself. “Her background is gospel, and she probably branched out into country from there, and then started doing jazz and other things. She does very well with them all. On Sunday, there’ll be a couple of gospel tunes she wrote herself, as well as things like `Blue Moon,’ `Dancing Cheek to Cheek,’ and ‘This Masquerade,’ the Leon Russell composition. She’s also doing a couple of country tunes, `Tennessee Waltz’ and ‘Crazy.’”

(Those two songs were, of course, hits for Patti Page and Patsy Cline, respectively, the two country artistsCockrell mentioned earlier.)

For the Cockrell show, Gardner will be joined by his longtime musical cohorts Bill Crosby on bass and Anthony Yoheon drums.

“Chuck is just an amazing piano player,” says Cockrell. "I’ve learned a lot about the jazz style from both him and Sandy.”

The “Sandy” she refers to is Gardner’s wife, singer Sandy Gardner, She’ll be one of the guest stars on the bill Sunday, along with saxophonist Tommy Poole and vocalists Pam Van Dyke Crosby and Ernestine Dillard. In a way, Dillard’s appearance closes a circle –Cockrell first took the Jazz Depot stage as a guest in one of Dillard’s concerts a few years ago.

“I sang one song,” she recalls, “and Chuck heard me and immediately invited me to come back and sing again. I did a couple of the Cole Porter revues, and then I was in Broadway Baby and then my own show.”

That 2011 concert teamed her with Gardner, and the two came up with, among other things, an arrangement of the standard“Over the Rainbow” that made a big impression not only on the audience, but also on the musicians themselves.

“That song has always been a favorite of mine, ever since I was a little girl,” says Cockrell. “Chuck plays it in a very smooth style, which fits my voice, and everything just flows. He’s been able to work with me and my style, and he makes it all very easy.”

Adds Gardner, “The way she sings it, and the way I play piano behind her – all I can say is, something really clicks when we do that song together.”

Angie Cockrell and Chuck Gardner are set to take the stage Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Tickets for the solo concert can be purchased at the Depot or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.Refreshments will be available for purchase.

The concert is a part of the Jazz Hall’s Spring 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.