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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

CALIFORNIAN: Women to steal spotlight at jazz festival

By CAM MILLER - For The Californian

One hails from as far away as Brazil, another is as close as Murrieta, while home bases for the other three are scattered, but collectively the five female vocalists appearing at this weekend's Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival give the event a remarkably talented array of tender gender singers.

Each of them gets top billing at other gigs, but at the Temecula festival, it's share and share alike though it's likely Brazilian bombshell Patricia Talem and Murrieta "American Idol" contestant Joelle James are likely to create the most interest.

That's not to denigrate the drawing power of Ruby Presnell leader of Ruby and the Red Hots and the popular Allison Adams Tucker and Cynthia Jones. All have their followers.

Talem's being touted as the hottest singer to come out of a Latin country since bossa nova queen Astrud Gilberto. Currently touring the west coast in the company of her band to mark the release of a new self-titled CD, Talem hails from Sao Paulo where she has gained a reputation of not being afraid to turn to the past for some of her book.

As a result, those who hear her perform at the local jazz event will discover her program includes not only an ample sample of Latin favorites but also songs out of the Great American Songbook such as a Portuguese version of "Stella By Starlight."

Talem will sing Friday night at a VIP/Sponsors gathering at Baily's Front Street Bar & Grill and again Saturday afternoon at the Chuck Niles Main Stage.

Joelle James, the Murrieta 17-year-old songstress, gained nationwide fame on "American Idol" by advancing as far as the quarter finals and winning praise from the judges.

Her track record shows that Joelle has sung the national anthem 150 times at athletic events, civic gatherings and numerous other venues. She began singing when she was five and before she turned 12 she had sung the "Star Spangled Banner" for the first time at a Lake Elsinore Storm-San Diego Padres exhibition baseball game.

Her program at the jazz festival will include "Body and Soul" with a special arrangement by world class alto saxophonist Richie Cole, whose band will accompany James. She is scheduled to perform Saturday aft on the Chuck Niles Main Stage.

San Diego-based Ruby Presnell and the Red Hots have built a reputation as an act that will get a crowd stirring right off the reel and never lets up. Presnell is the straw that stirs the drink, a singer who is known as "The First Class Sultry Lady Of Blues."

Presnell's sensual stage presence and eye-popping good looks combined with a penchant for the blues has resulted in appearances with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Elvin Bishop and blues big-timers like Etta James, John Lee Hooker and Junior Wells.

Her appearance at the festival will reunite her with headliner Poncho Sanchez with whom she also has performed, if only to exchange pleasantries since they are slated to appear on separate stages ---- Sanchez at the Chuck Niles Main Stage and Presnell at The Californian Tribute to New Orleans Clock Tower Stage.

Striking blonde vocalist Allison Adams Tucker from Encinitas began singing before she could speak, having been raised in her San Diego home by classically trained musicians. If that surprises you, also consider she once was a punk rocker attending a Christian school in Indiana.

However, she broke from the punk pack and went on to become a multilingual jazz vocalist with a passion for world cultures. For the record, she sings in six languages besides her own. And travels have taken her to a dozen foreign countries, including Japan and those in Latin America.

This will be the talented Encinitas songstress' first appearance at the Temecula festival and she will be performing Saturday afternoon at the Californian Tribute to New Orleans Clock Tower Stage.

Last to be mentioned but certainly not the least talented: Cynthia Jones, winner of Chuck Niles Be-Bop competition at last year's festival.

Before she embraced bop, Jones began her jazz career by singing with pop/rock and blues bands in the late '80s and '90s. The "awakening" took place about six years ago and since then the Los Angeles resident has been performing jazz and blues that at times evokes memories of Peggy Lee.

You will be able to check out Jones' sexy and soulful vocals delivered with class Saturday afternoon at the Chuck Niles Main Stage.

There you have it, five jazz and blues divas, each one a star in her own right and each adding to the galaxy of other sky lighters assembled for a weekend of solid entertainment.

Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival 2009

Friday-Sunday

Various locations in Old Town Temecula

Ticket prices vary

951-678-2517

temeculajazzfest.com