January 12th, 2020 10pm Stage 3
Vocalist Jane Irving has spent most of her life surrounded by music. Initially a childhood classical piano student, she discovered jazz in her late teens. The combination of studied learning and a natural feel for jazz, helped Irving begin to understand the potential of the voice as an instrument for pure self expression.
Irving was born in Sydney, Australia. She began classical piano studies at the age of 6 which continued to the end of school. “When I was 14 my parents started sending me to jazz camps in the school holidays. That’s when I first heard jazz - it felt really good.”
From singing in choirs, to entering classical piano eisteddfod’s and even learning the flute for a few years, Irving then left home to attend boarding school. Frensham, was a small all girls school that had a very strong emphasis on the arts. “I took acting classes, learned pottery and sang in an incredible madrigal choir.. - this was when my creativity started to open up”. For her final Higher School Certificate music exam, Jane was awarded 3rd in the state for her classical piano performance.
After leaving school, at 18 Jane got her first gig playing piano and singing in the cocktail bar of a Sydney hotel. Her repertoire was a combination of top forty songs and jazz standards. “I don’t know how I got that gig. I just knew that I could play piano well enough to get by and the singing was just something that seemed to work fairly well along side it. It was a funny gig. A white grand piano with a glass top that people would sit around.”
Jane continued to work as a piano player/singer but when she took a jazz vocal workshop at the Conservatorium in Sydney everything changed. A guitar player she had met there offered her a gig... “I turned up and walked out on this big stage, and there was a guitar player, a bass, drums and just a microphone on a stand waiting for me. No piano. This was my first gig singing with a rhythm section behind me.” Irving continued to work as a pianist/vocalist but was fast becoming much more interested in the voice as an instrument. At this time, Jane began studying with Australia's leading jazz vocalist - Kerrie Biddell. "Kerrie really helped me hone my sound and taught me so much about the voice and about being a singer. Our time together really opened the door on a lot of things for me. I can’t say enough good things about Kerrie. She had a deep impact on me as a musician.”
Irving formed a band and started singing in and around the Sydney area, and began featuring at some festivals - Thredbo Jazz Festival; Manly Jazz Festival; South Coast Jazz Festival and Wangaratta Jazz Festival. She also played regularly at popular Sydney spots such as: The Basement; Soup Plus; The Sound Lounge; and 505. In 2009 Jane was asked to be the vocal teacher for the Sydney Improvised Music Association’s ‘Young Women In Jazz’ program, which continued for two years. This was a unique course aimed at women interested in pursuing a professional career in jazz and improvised music. At this time Jane was also asked to front ‘The Swinging Blades’, a band of star Sydney musicians - guitarist Aaron Flower, tenor saxophonist Kim Lawson, bassist Zoe Hauptmann and drummer Evan Mannell. The ‘Blades’ formed a weekly musicians jam where many of Sydney’s incredible jazz musicians could be heard.
In 2011, Jane moved to New York with husband, bassist Kevin Hailey. Together they reside in Brooklyn. Most recently Irving has been playing with Tadataka Unno, Ron Affif, Mark Ferber, Josh Richman and many other local NYC musicians. Jane currently plays regularly at NYC spots including monthly at The 55 Bar and in August 2019 had her debut performance on NYC's Birdland stage.