MILLHEIM - The Andrea Wolper Quartet will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks, 100 W. Main St.
Frontwoman, Wolper, is no stranger to the Elk Creek Cafe, having played there four times before and at its previous incarnation, the Equinox Cafe. But this will be a first for her to perform there with her quartet.
The Andrea Wolper Quartet is Wolper on vocals, Michael Howell on guitar, Ken Filiano, who also has performed at the cafe previously, on bass and Michael TA Thompson on percussion.
Wolper said audiences love Howell and she is excited for them to see this performer who toured with Dizzy Gillespie for five years. She said Thompson calls his instrument "soundrhythium," saying people may see him behind a drum kit, but the way he plays it goes beyond what you might call drumming.
The band is based out of New York City, representing three of the five boroughs, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.
For more information about Andrea Wolper, visit www.andreawolper. com.
JULIE REPPERT: You are a part of several different musical projects. What are the names of your projects and how do you keep yourself on track with all of them?
ANDREA WOLPER: Most jazz musicians freelance and do a lot of different projects, both as leaders and sidemen or women. That's less common among singers than instrumentalists, but I really enjoy exploring many different musical styles and situations. My most active project is the group that will be at Elk Creek. Depending on the gig, sometimes we're a trio, a quartet or a quintet. Michael, Ken, TA and the fifth member of the group, pianist Kris Davis, are all on my CD, "Parallel Lives," which came out a year ago on the Jazzed Media label.
I'm also part of a trio called TranceFormation with Ken and pianist Connie Crothers. And I'm in a big band led by drummer and composer Art Lillard. And I have other situations where people ask me to take part in their gigs.
JR: How would you describe the quartet's sound?
AW: It's hard for me to know objectively how we sound, though I can say for certain that there's a strong bluesy quality to our music and that we can go from very intimate to very high-energy. Some writers have said I'm a musical adventurer or explorer; I think that's at least in part because my repertoire doesn't fit into a narrow idea of jazz repertoire. These days, the genre itself is very wide-ranging; in a way it's a very fruitful and creative time. I'm comfortable drawing on music from a lot of sources, and whether it's Great American Songbook, poetry, re-arranged pop or folk, or my original songs, it all has a unified sound.
JR: What can the audience expect from an Andrea Wolper Quartet live show?
AW: I'd say people can expect to be surprised, to be moved, to hear some songs they know and some they don't know and maybe even some they think they know. Oh, and laughter - there definitely will be laughter!
JR: Are you on the road much? Where are some of your favorite places you have performed?
AW: I've been on the road more than usual lately. In mid-September, I performed in Bozeman, Mont., and at the end of the month, I had a tour in northern California (where I'm originally from). In November, I'll be doing a loop through New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate New York. I love touring; you meet people in a different way than in any other part of life, and people are incredibly welcoming and generous. And then, of course, you always have some crazy adventures. It means a lot when people who may not even know us are willing to take a chance to come out to hear us. Honestly, wherever I'm touring is my favorite place, though I can say that Cape Town, South Africa, was pretty special because the people who brought me over organized it so that I could have several free days to be a tourist. That's not a typical situation.
JR: What is your favorite part about being a part of a band and performing live with them?
AW: I love, love, love playing live. The very nature of live music and the interaction among the band members and the audience force you to be really in the moment and willing to free fall. I've never been drawn to skydiving or bungee jumping or mountain climbing; music gives me enough of a thrill. It's when I feel most alive.
JR: Anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
AW: I'm very excited about bringing three other members of my band from New York to Elk Creek Cafe on Saturday. And then on Sunday I'll be leading a community singing workshop called "Set Your Music Free!" at Green Drake Gallery and Art Center.
Tim Bowser (at the Elk Creek Cafe) has created a very special scene. Honestly, you don't see this kind of thing everywhere, and I'm looking forward to introducing the rest of the band and Penns Valley to each other.