Jazz sensation BRIA SKONBERG performs on the intimate Secret Garden stage at Nighttown.


What a great way to set the table for Independence Day with this bright and exciting firecracker from New York!

Music Cleveland! is pleased to bring this dynamic new star to Cleveland music lovers!  Our friends at Nighttown discovered her on a recent trip to the Big Apple and immediately began making plans to bring her to Cleveland.  We’ve sure glad they did.



When:  Thursday July 3rd @ 7 p.m.

Where: Nighttown on Cedar Hill

With: Music Cleveland! Jazz Lovers

Check this out - Bria Skonberg sings Janis Joplin's Hit "Mercedes Benz" at Iridium Jazz Club, New York City  (click here)  

Admission $20  A 50-percent discount for Music Cleveland! Just $10! Reservations limited first eight, all others will pay the full $20.

The first eight members posting a RSVP will be added to the VIP List for discount admission.  Our VIP list, for discount admission and seating, will be held at the door. 

When you RSVP you will be asked to provide your full name and that of your guest, a phone number and your direct email.  THEY ARE REQUIRED and will only be used for this event.  Then your name(s) will be added to the VIP list!

BECAUSE OF THE SEAT RESTRICTIONS (8), PLEASE BE CURRENT ON YOUR ANNUAL GROUP DUES.  You may check your fee status by clicking on your group profile in the upper right corner of this page under profile.  Thank you.

Once we reach the eight-guest maximum, there will be a waiting list available.  As time gets close to the show date, we always have some cancellations so worry not.

We’ll be in the Secret Garden patio that is such a great up-close venue.  We love the advantage of being able to meet and mingle with the musicians at Nighttown!

Dinner: Nighttown, before, during or after show.

Time: Arrival around 5 p.m. or when convenient.

Location: Nighttown, 12387 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights,[masked]

There will be valet parking and plenty of spots on nearby side streets.  There is a municipal parking lot just west and behind the tavern with a driveway entrance on Cedar.  It is metered parking (well enforced) so bring plenty of quarters.

Nighttown Restaurant &  Jazz Club

12387 Cedar Road (top of Cedar Hill west of Fairmount)
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Nighttown is named after the Dublin Red-Light district in Joyce’s novel Ulysses.  It offers the ambiance of Irish pubs and turn-of-the-century New York bars and the food is great.

Map to Nighttown (click here)  

And here’s what The Washington Post said:

Bria Skonberg: A young jazz star on the rise

By Adam Bernstein

Published: April 12, 2013 

E-mail the writer

Three years ago, singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli was headlining an international jazz festival in Victoria, British Columbia, and was dining in a hotel lounge on his night off. A member of the quartet playing in the background invited him onstage.

“I normally would sit in with the group on one number,” Pizzarelli recalled. He quickly warmed to the doe-eyed bandleader, Bria Skonberg, who sang in a style that was playful and sultry. All of a sudden, she picked up her trumpet and the room filled with an ebullient, roaring style reminiscent of Louis Armstrong’s.

Pizzarelli, mesmerized, remained glued to the stage for two sets.

“It was a total surprise,” said Pizzarelli, whose father is the celebrated jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. “My dad later heard her and goes, ‘You hear this girl play trumpet? She’s unbelievable.’ ”

Her appeal also led jazz authority Will Friedwald to rhapsodize in his Wall Street Journal music column last year, “Bria Skonberg looks like a Scandinavian angel (or Thor’s girlfriend), plays trumpet like a red hot devil, and sings like a dream.”

He left out that Skonberg can also hula-hoop while playing her horn but, really, why brag on her? “It just takes practice,” she said recently over the phone, “and maybe a little sangria.”

Skonberg, who will perform April 20 at the DC Lindy Exchange at Glen Echo Park’s Spanish Ballroom, is resting on the precipice of wider recognition. At age 29, she was nominated earlier this month by the Jazz Journalists Association for its up-and-coming artist of the year award.

Her two CDs convey an eclectic free spirit. She had an impassioned feel for chestnuts such as “I’ll Never Be the Same,” and her versatile repertoire also includes a jazzed up version of the Cardigans’ ’90s alt-rock hit “Lovefool” and a sly interpretation of Janis Joplin’s satiric gospel about material desire, “Mercedes Benz.” She remodeled “Come On-a My House” — the quasi-Armenian folk song popularized by Rosemary Clooney in 1951 — with what she called a “swampy groove.”

Bria Skonberg CD Launch at The Iridium NYC - "So Is The Day"  (click here) 

Skonberg, who likes to reimagine older jazz songs through a modern prism, once interpreted the 1920s stomper “King of the Zulus” as a collaboration between Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix. To make the effect work, she attached to her trumpet bell a wireless, clip-on microphone connected to a guitar-effects pedal and created a distorted sound reminiscent of the influential 1960s guitarist.

“Some of the ideas I’ve had over the years, I just thought it would be funny,” she said. “I played in ska bands and like all kinds of music. People hear traditional jazz and think it’s stale, where there are so many ways it can be opened up. With New Orleans and old-time grooves, there’s no limit in what can be done with that. I want to break the stereotype of what traditional jazz is.”

From her home in Brooklyn, she tours like a dervish — popping up at clubs, festivals and jazz clinics around North America — and has accompanied on stage and in recordings widely admired performers including Pizzarelli, composer and trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and her mentor, the trumpeter Warren Vache.

It’s Vache, she said, who keeps her from plateauing musically by offering effective, if blunt criticism: “Use your ears. Does that sound good? No.”

“I overthink a lot, so it was useful,” Skonberg said cheerfully.

She’s relentlessly cheery, in fact, especially for someone who as a singer worships Anita O’Day, a vocalist once dubbed the “Jezebel of Jazz” for her hard-living ways. In contrast, Skonberg’s professional life has been rather charmed so far, propelled by jazz veterans drawn in by her talent, determination and charisma.

Gordon, who plays frequently with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, calls her “the full package” and “a young person who knows the traditional music and can play with such great command.”

“The thing that separates Bria from other young players is she knows how to perform, how to talk to the audiences and engage with the audience,” Gordon said. “She lights up on stage and automatically gets your attention.”

At Capilano University in North Vancouver, Skonberg received a degree in jazz trumpet instrumental performance in 2006 and landed a job with Dal Richards, a nonagenarian bandleader known as Canada’s King of Swing. She kept winning jazz festival awards and, in 2009, recorded her first solo album, “Fresh.”

It was produced by Paul Airey, an industry veteran who also produced one of Michael Buble’s first albums. “She really caught my attention, that a lady that young would be able to play and hold her own in a trumpet section as competitive as it can be,” Airey said of Skonberg’s work with Richards.

“And they asked her to sing a solo, and she had the trumpet over her arm and owned the stage,” he added. “She caught the attention of everyone in the audience. I was impressed how mature she was with her melodies and her musical statements, her rhythmic ideas, her jazz ideas.”

He said that, like Buble, Skonberg exudes a “special quality that few people possess, an exceptional talent and determination and drive to perform. Her potential is unlimited.”

Skonberg moved to New York in 2010, sensing that she’d outgrown the opportunities back home. She recorded an album last year, “So Is the Day”, that features Gordon and Pizzarelli and rose to No. 7 on the national jazz charts.

She said she remains vividly aware of how hard it can be to break through in New York.

But on her first day in the city, she was busking in Washington Square Park. “Wynton Marsalis walked by,” she recalled, “and I said to myself, ‘Holy crap. This is a sign. The world’s greatest trumpet player just walked by.’ He stopped and gave me thumbs up.”

Bria Skonberg at Iridium Jazz Club, NYC "Love Me Or Leave Me"  (click here)  

Putting Your Love Out There: Gritty, Witty Vocalist and Trumpeter Bria Skonberg’s Intimate Take Coalesces in the Universally Appealing Songs on Into Your Own

“I love problem solving, getting a bunch of different variables and finding a way to make them fit,” reflects Bria Skonberg. “I want to appeal to people who like to be a bit challenged, but still want to bop around to good music.” The singer, trumpeter, and composer comes up with the perfect solution to this equation and dives headfirst into a very personal, highly catchy set of songs with bravado and confidence on her new CD, Into Your Own (Random Act Records; release: May 13, 2014).

Her affability on-stage, coupled with her husky singing voice and furious trumpet chops, have made her a darling of trad-jazz audiences. Her talents have caught the attention of the mainstream jazz press, garnering Bria a “Rising Star” spot in DownBeat Magazine’s 2013 Critics Poll, an “Up and Coming Star” nod from the Jazz Journalists’ Association, and accolades from far and wide. The gigs are steady, with Bria appearing at nearly 100 shows at clubs, festivals, schools and concert halls all over the U.S. last year.

All that activity leads to new experiences and new influences. An endlessly curious and hardworking composer, Bria spends quite a bit of energy finding ideas to mix and match. A move from her modest hometown in Canada to The Big Apple a few years ago only opened the world of the possible even more.

“The first ten years of my career, I did a lot of re-creation, very traditional jazz,” recalls Skonberg. “Then I started taking risks... and then some more risks, and then doing some serious re-imagining. New York is about putting yourself out there, being in this big pond and hearing there are ten people who do what you do.” It made her look around the wide-open world of music, and realize that there was more room for her own voice in her music.

In addition to the international membership of the group (two Canadians, one Aussie, and Americans from New Orleans and the Ozarks), world influences appear in the recent addition of percussion to Bria’s band. Played on Into Your Own by Mino Cinelu, the French percussion master whose credits include work with Miles Davis and Weather Report, the very varied rhythmic approach to the album bespeaks of Bria’s search for the hip and modern.

It’s not just an instrumental approach. As World meets Jazz meets Pop on Into Your Own, Bria’s vocal stylings provide much of the album’s modern sensibilities- she goes from jazz club smoky to stadium style belting in the blink of an eye, and sang all of the harmonies and overdubs. “I’m proud of the range of voice that is shown on this album, both stylistically and note-wise.”

Bringing to the fore the fresh, instantly engaging side of jazz comes naturally to Skonberg. “I like wit,” she muses. “I was brought up in a traditional jazz music culture where that was what the performers did; they had a bit of a schtick without compromising musicianship. There’s a big emphasis on entertaining people. I hope I’m able to make the subject of jazz more approachable to a general audience.”

Skonberg could not stick to the shtick, or to traditional approaches. The use of percussion and her penchant for running her trumpet through a fuzz pedal to create an almost other-worldly distorted wail certainly shake things up, but it’s the underlying inspirations for the songwriting, the artists who sparked moments on Into Your Own, which show a true, firm departure from more traditional ideas. “My favorite singer is Lauryn Hill. She tells the truth as she sees it,” explains Skonberg with a laugh. “The artists that I gravitate towards—Lauryn, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell—created their own style, a pop format with jazz flexibilities and different interests.” Into Your Own excels at making new ideas feel like welcome, familiar tunes.

It’s a productive approach, especially as Skonberg hones in on personal experiences, yet uses her songwriting skills to cast them in a universal light: “I keep looking for non-specific spirituals. Something that makes you feel uplifted, a gospel number without directly mentioning religious figures,” explains Skonberg. “How do you deal with those feelings, with things like mortality and abiding love?” “Break My Fall”, a light rock ballad with a serious gospel tinge, is one answer, along with the trad-jazz vibe of “Six More Weeks.”

Yet the strongest statement of this kind comes with “Go Tell It,” a funky Bo Diddley-esque romp with a consequential edge, a spiritual-inspired call for love, acceptance, and expanded understanding. “I’ve learned to trust those ideas that come to me, my instincts. What comes to you when your mind is clear. Then you have to go hash them out on the piano,” she states. “‘Go Tell It’ demanded concentrated effort, because of what the song says. I thought of ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain’, of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. And then I thought of the LGBT movement, the civil rights movement of our time.”

For Skonberg, supporting this movement is about more than writing a catchy tune. Skonberg and her label, Random Act Records, take this commitment seriously, and 10 percent of the proceeds from sales of Into Your Own will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to achieving gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual equality. It’s a cause she and Random Act’s President, Scott Elias, are happy to support.

“We wholeheartedly agree with Bria’s assessment – Everyone is equal, or everyone is not. It’s that simple,” states Scott. “Her songs speak to everyone about the excitement of love, what it means to be alive here and now. They’re paeans to LIFE!”

More intimate matters also inspired Skonberg, though the spirit of the songs remains the same. A family member’s recent health problems had Bria thinking about age and mortality—something John Lennon unfortunately knew about all too well. Bria’s breathy, dreamy version of Lennon’s “Julia” stands on its own as a look into personal loss.

The bouncy Brit-Pop-goes-to-New-Orleans “All My Life,” sums up the sentiments that hit at the heart of the album. “I was dreaming about the future,” Skonberg says. “I wanted to create something positive, something people can sing along to, a little anthem.”

You’ll find new favorites to sing along with, as Into Your Own brings the trad and modern together to a comfortable, loving place. As Bria says: “That is really the vibe of this album: accepting people and putting your love out there.” 

Sampler Video (click here)  

Members Note: Please don’t forget your annual Membership Fees. You may use the PayPal link in the upper left margin of the home page or pay the Organizer/Host in cash at your next event. Your dues help cover the costs of being on and related administrative costs. Organizers are not compensated and do this for their love of music, fine wine and food, and, of course, friendship. And, our sincere thanks to those members who are current with their dues! 

And, your paid membership here includes membership in the Ciné Arts Cleveland! group, our movie group!  That's a twofer!

Music Cleveland! – We are: Live Music, Music, Classical Music, Jazz, Blues, Live Jazz, Music, Smooth Jazz, Country Western Music, Irish Music, Opera, Bluegrass, Folk Music, Theater & Performance Art, Baroque Music, Dance, Dining Out, Celtic Music, Social Networking, Night Life


Join or login to comment.

  • Brian W.

    Bria Skonberg is an amazing talent! I would love to see her perform again.

    July 4, 2014

  • Lynn J

    Bria was fantastic! The complete package. Really enjoyed it÷

    July 4, 2014

  • Bill J.

    Clearly the best performance this year - really fine!

    July 4, 2014

  • Bill J.

    Just announced: With Special Guest Opening Artist Philippe LeJeune, Boogie Woogie pianist from Toulouse, France!

    June 29, 2014

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