Singer Julie Kelly Moves in a Straight-Ahead Direction on Her Latest Jazz Outings

Until about two years ago, singer Julie Kelly kept at least one foot planted firmly on jazz-fusion turf, especially when her accompanists sometimes cranked the volume way up as they worked out on electronic gear.

But then pianist Tom Garvin, known for his way with an acoustic piano and also his keen ability to back vocalists, showed up and changed everything.

“He subbed for my regular keyboardist at a gig . . . and I said, ‘This is it!’ ” said Kelly, who will appear Sunday at the Dana Point Resort with singers Stephanie Haynes, Barbara Morrison and Yevette Stewart.

“Tom’s playing got to me,” Kelly said. “He was so subtle it blew me away, and the straight-ahead genre he comes from struck a chord with me. I’ve been concentrating on that ever since.”

Garvin will be at the keyboard behind Kelly when she offers a set of mainstream material on Sunday. The program is called “Ladies Sing the Blues”; each of the four singers will do an individual set, then together they will do two songs in a finale.


“My set will have Miles Davis’ ‘All Blues’ threading all through it, but I’ll also do older tunes like ‘Royal Garden Blues’ and Bobby Troup’s ‘The Meaning of the Blues,’ ” Kelly said.

Kelly, an Oakland native who has lived in Los Angeles for nine years, has a new LP, “Some Other Time” (Chase Music Group) featuring arrangements by Garvin. The record is due out this month.

Kelly is happy with her current direction, she says. “It feels totally right, and it’s creative. It’s not like I’m only doing ‘Satin Doll.’ I do some contemporary mainstream jazz tunes too, like some by Chick Corea. Overall, I’ve found it to be a much more creative area.”

Julie Kelly, Stephanie Haynes, Barbara Morrison and Yevette Stewart sing Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Dana Point Resort, 25135 Park Lantern Drive, Dana Point. Tickets: $20 general, $35 with hors d’oeuvres, $50 with dinner. Information: (213) 591-2527.