If a choir performing at a jazz club sounds a bit contradictory, it might be worth a trip to Blues Alley on Sunday to catch Capital City Voices Jazz Choir and its new show, "For Ella."
"We are a traditional community choir of 20 voices, only our repertoire is taken from the Great American Songbook and also from original compositions of mine," said musical director Peggy Stern, one of America's first ladies of jazz performance, composition and vocal arrangement. "A lot of the tunes we're doing are songs [Ella Fitzgerald] covered and recorded."
Currently completing its third year as a group, Capital City Voices is an adult-level jazz choir based in D.C. It was co-founded by Stern and internationally respected saxophonist Jeff Antoniuk.
|Capital City Voices|
|» Where: Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW|
|» When: 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday|
|» Info: $20; 202-337-4141; bluesalley.com|
"When I moved down [to D.C.] three years ago, I saw that Jeff was doing wonderful jazz workshops, and so I contacted him and told him he had everything there [except] a jazz choir," Stern recalled. "I had a lot of experience because I had a group in Kingston, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley."
Soon after that initial contact, the choir became a reality, combining the wonderful quality of the human voice with the hip sound of jazz.
"I love the sound of voices in harmony, and I feel it serves the community at large to have a nonprofessional group of singers gathering each week to make music," Stern noted.
And because the group has been working on material all season long, its repertoire is such that each of the two shows Sunday evening will feature completely different sets of songs.
Stern is happy to share a few of the numbers on the program. The first show will feature standards such as "Suddenly It's Spring," "Willow Weep for Me" and "You Go to My Head." The second will showcase hits such as "I Concentrate on You" and "Every Time We Say Goodbye."
"This is going to be a very busy evening," Stern said. "It's a wonderful show, and I'm very much looking forward to it."