Aug 14, 2012 - Annie & Jay Team Up For August 19 Show


         On August 19, a young veteran of the area music scene joins with an experienced Tulsa newcomer for an evening of jazz and standards at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame’s Jazz Depot. Those two artists are, in order, Annie Ellicott and Jay Garrett. Ellicott, the young veteran, has been singing around town for nearly a decade, making her first big splash as the new singer with pianist Gayle Williamson’s Soundz Good group. Nineteen years old at the time, she had already appeared in more than 20 local stage plays and musicals. 

            In an interview with the Tulsa World’s John Wooley, published on January 30, 2004, she traced her interest in jazz and standards back several years to the long-lived local radio program Big Band Saturday Night, where she first heard Nat King Cole’s version of “Stardust.”

            “I thought that was a great song, and I went out and got an album with `Stardust’ on it,” she said. “After that, I just kept getting more and more songs, and it became my hobby.

            “The first time I sang jazz in public, I was a freshman, and I was with the jazz band at Central [High School in Tulsa]. I sang `Orange Colored Sky,’ and I was really freaked out about the whole thing. But I got a surprisingly good reaction. So I thought, `Well, all right,’ And as I kept doing it, I got less and less afraid.”

            It was a good thing her fear of performing ebbed, because by the time of that interview she had begun appearing regularly with Williamson’s outfit in various venues around town. The bandleader, who was prone to calling her “Little Awesome Annie,” said at the time, “I’m really impressed with her improvisational skills, her knowledge of music and her pitch, and always with her grasp of how jazz is sung and her knowledge of jazz tunes.”

            As her career progressed, Ellicott would become one of the busiest singers in the area, fronting her own dates and working with other high-profile singers and musicians in various combinations. One of the performers she’s sung with many times is Pam Van Dyke Crosby – who, like Williamson, had high praise for Ellicott.

            “I believe she has star quality,” Crosby told the Tulsa World for a Sept. 11, 2008 article. “She just has a natural quality about her.”

            Recently, Ellicott has started working regular gigs at Tulsa’s Full Moon Café with two more well known veterans of the area music scene, guitarist Mark Bruner and multi-instrumentalist Shelby Eicher. That trio also played the Jazz Depot on April 7. In publicity material for that appearance, Bruner said, “You know, [Ellicott] played sax in her high school band, and I think her vocal improvisational abilities are a direct result of that. She has a gift for phrasing that probably started when she took up the saxophone. That gift is phenomenal. She never ceases to amaze me.”

            Jay Garrett, a Tennessee native, arrived on the local scene in 2010, bringing with him a resume that included performances at jazz festivals with vibraphonist Terry Gibbs and appearances on stages stretching from Texas to the West Coast. In Tulsa, he formed the Good Vibes Band, playing with Tom Shannon on saxophone, Jordan Hehl on bass, and John Dellavedova on drums.

            In addition to playing vibraphone, Garrett is also a jazz composer. His most recent appearance at the Jazz Depot was on May 26, when he was the featured artist in the Depot’s monthly composer series.

            “I went to school with Jay at North Texas State University; we were in some jazz classes together,” said pianist-composer Tim Shadley, the coordinator of the jazz-composer series. “He’s a fantastic vibraphone player, and a multi-instrumentalist who also sings. Since he’s been in town, we’ve played a few gigs together, and he’s really embraced the Tulsa music scene.” 

            The Annie Ellicott-Jay Garrett concert begins Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Tickets 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 part of the Jazz Hall’s 2012 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.