HEIDI KRENN - JAZZ-SÄNGERIN, VOCAL COACH & KOMPONIST
Up‐and‐coming vocalist Heidi Krenn embodies a rare combination of classic jazz tradition and bold new style. After discovering and cultivating a passion for jazz music in her native Austria, Krenn won a prestigious Fulbright Award to study in New York City in 2004, symbolically marking her move to the next level of her musical career. Having studied and performed with highly respected musicians in Europe, she now showcases her unique vocal abilities among New York’s jazz elite. Her voice is a distinctive instrument in its own right, capable of navigating the most complex phrases and sophisticated harmonies. Krenn’s vocal prowess will surely establish her as one of the most highly sought after jazz vocalists in the years to come.
Krenn’s talents have earned her a place on the stages of Birdland, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s, Smalls, and the Cornelia Street Café, among others. Since her arrival in New York City, she has studied at NYU with George Garzone, Kenny Werner, Ron McClure and Don Friedman, and then at Queens College with Theo Bleckmann, Antonio Hart and Michael Phillip Mossman. She was a classmate of pianist Ezra Weiss at Queen’s College, and one of the highlights of her blossoming career in New York was performing in Weiss’s Shirley Horn tribute “I Wish I’d Met You” at Dizzy’s in 2006, on the one‐year anniversary of Horn’s passing.
Before her move to New York, Krenn studied in Austria with jazz greats including vocalists Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, Jay Clayton, and Laurie Antonioli, pianist Fritz Pauer, and guitarist Karl Ratzer. She made appearances at Porgy and Bess, Birdland, and Jazzland while performing professionally on Vienna’s jazz circuit, and also sang at the Diuna Club in Warsaw. Earlier in her career, Krenn made appearances on Austrian television and Slovenian radio, and in 2003 she was a finalist in the Austrian Young Lions competition. She produced her first recording, Austrian Young Lions 2003 (Universal) with the other finalists.
As a child, Krenn was encouraged by her parents to explore her musical abilities. Enthralled by one of her father’s Billie Holiday records, Krenn realized that she wanted to be a jazz vocalist. By the time she was twelve, she was taking voice lessons with Elly Wright, and soon began commuting to the Schubert Conservatory in Vienna to study music with Conny Giese. Eventually she graduated with honors from the Kunstuniversität Graz in Austria, with a degree in jazz vocal performance.
While attending a seminar in Vienna, Krenn met legendary vocalist Sheila Jordan, an experience which Krenn calls “life‐changing.” A lasting friendship was born, and with Jordan’s help, Krenn was able to attend a “Jazz in July” summer workshop at the University of Massachusetts. It was there that she realized she was destined to move to the United States. “That to me was just heaven,” Krenn said of the workshop. “All people like me, my age, who wanted to do jazz music…they were just as crazy about music as I was.”
Krenn’s repertoire includes standards from the Great American Songbook by the likes of George Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, and Irving Berlin, as well as jazz originals by greats such as Kenny Dorham, Abbey Lincoln, Billy Strayhorn, and Carla Bley. Despite her zeal for paying homage to her jazz heroes, Krenn also enjoys traveling less traditional musical roads. “I understand myself as an interpreter of the lyric and the music,” Krenn says. “I am very conscious of where this music is coming from.” Surely the least mainstream aspect of Krenn’s repertoire is her love of improvisation, particularly scatting, and she takes great liberties with her musical interpretations. Using her voice like a horn player would use his instrument, Krenn belts out bebop lines and advanced arrangements. Whether it is singing classic jazz standards, European jazz tunes, blues‐oriented pieces, progressive jazz compositions, or new songs in the jazz standard tradition,
Krenn’s enthusiastic approach relays the true passion of the music to the listener.
Krenn’s insatiable appetite and passion for all things jazz manifests itself in her current projects. She is featured on Ezra Weiss’ upcoming album Get Happy, as well as in a Shirley Horn suite that will be presented at Dizzy’s next fall. “Shirley is not just a singer, she is a complete musician,” Krenn says. “This whole mood she creates is magic.” In March, Krenn performed at Smalls with The Billy Hart Academy, a group that features Krenn both as a singer and a vocal instrumentalist. She also arranged three standards for the concert.
Krenn currently works in Vienna Austria, having completed her master’s degree in jazz performance and composition at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in Flushing and returning from a several years in Shanghai and is now working on her upcoming CD.