Born in Coos Bay, Oregon, jazz and contemporary classical vocalist Lauren Newton earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Oregon in 1975. Around the same time, she joined a group of classmates who moved to Europe to take advantage of the increased opportunities to play and study. In 1977 Newton received a degree in vocal performance from the School of Music in Stuttgart, Germany.
Besides traveling extensively as a member of various groups performing at many of the most prestigious music festivals in Europe, North America, parts of Africa, and Japan, Lauren Newton has appeared on more than sixty albums by herself and with different groups. This includes twenty LPs and CDs as a singer with the Vienna Art Orchestra between 1979 and 1990, as well as her solo debut LP Timbre, which received the annual German Critics Award in 1983. In 2016, Newton joined the Krisch-Höfler-Elgart trio on their Lonely Woman album.
Lauren Newton continues to do a variety of commissioned works and radio plays, as well as being a soloist in performance art projects and collaborations with dancers, painters, and other artists. Since 2002, she is also a professor for jazz vocals and free improvisation music at the University of Music in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Krisch-Höfler-Elgart feat. Lauren Newton
In 2016, Lauren Newton joined Krisch-Höfler-Elgart on their Lonely Woman album. The trio’s CD and download, released by German label JazzHausMusik, showcases Dizzy Krisch on vibraphone, Karoline Höfler on bass, Bill Elgart on drums, and Lauren Newton on voice.
Blue Note: How did you come to perform and record with the trio?
Lauren Newton: Through [group leader] Dizzy Krisch. We both live in the same city, Tübingen, south of Stuttgart. About three years ago, he invited me to join the trio.
BN: Was this the first time you sang with Dizzy and the other members of the trio?
LN: No, I have worked with Dizzy and Karoline on various projects before this quartet.
It was the first time I sang with Bill, although I knew of him for years. [The two American expatriates both permanently relocated to Europe in the mid 1970s.]
“Green” from Krisch-Höfler-Elgart feat. Lauren Newton’s Lonely Woman, with Dizzy Krisch on vibraphone, Karoline Höfler on bass, Bill Elgart on drums, and Lauren Newton on voice, composed by Krisch, is on YouTube:
Krisch-Höfler-Elgart, a regular on the jazz club circuit in Germany and nearby countries for several years, have invited Lauren Newton to join them as a guest vocalist on several occasions. In fact, the four players now formally use the name the Dizzy Krisch Quartett.
BN: Is it a coincidence you’ve worked with several vibes players, in addition to Dizzy Krisch?
LN: I love working with the vibraphone. I feel it suits my voice very well. It’s a very melodic instrument.
I like the juxtaposition between the vibraphone and the voice. I can do something crazy vocally, yet it still creates a lovely sound.
BN: Your debut album also features the vibes, right?
LN: Yes, my first solo LP, Timbre, showcases David Friedman on vibes.
Timbre was reissued in CD in 1998 under the title Filigree and is also now available in digital format as well as for streaming.
BN: What is the background of “Evolutism,” a Dizzy Krisch composition that you are credited as the lyricist?
LN: The title “Evolutism” is also the word that my solo is centered around. Making words out of the letters in both German and English in the spur of the moment. It’s one of the word games I like to play and have also used in other pieces of mine that have words. A way of abstracting and morphing with the original meaning and any underlying meaning it might have so with each performance my vocabulary changes.
“Evolutism,” with Dizzy Krisch on vibraphone, Karoline Höfler on bass, Bill Elgart on drums, and Lauren Newton on voice, composed by Krisch with lyrics by Newton, is online:
Frédéric Rabold Crew
In 1976, Lauren Newton joined the jazz-rock outfit Frédéric Rabold Crew led by namesake and founder Frédéric Rabold. Newton’s crewmates during her tenure included pianist Uli Bühl, guitarist Thomas Horstmann, drummer Manfred Kniel, saxophonists Wilfried Eichhorn, Walter Hüber, and Erich Stangl, plus bandleader Frédéric Rabold on trumpet and flugelhorn.
BN: How many albums did you record with the fusion group Frédéric Rabold Crew?
LN: I recorded three LPs with them. We were a large ensemble playing jazz-rock originals.
Between 1976 and 1979, Lauren Newton appeared on a trio of Frédéric Rabold Crew albums: Package Of Voices, Balance, and Funky Tango.
The Frédéric Rabold Crew’s “Time Machine I,” the last cut on the first side of their Package Of Voices LP from 1976, is on YouTube:
Lauren Newton and Thomas Horstmann
BN: Was this the first time you played with guitar player Thomas Horstmann?
LN: Yes. We ended up working together for about ten years.
We collaborated in duo, in trio with pianist Uli Scherrer [including the albums] 2nd Room 2nd Conversation and Voiceprint.
BN: Did you and Thomas Horstmann also play in a trio with a percussionist?
LN: Yes, later we formed a trio with Dirk Rothbrust on percussion.
The Trio L.T.D. CD is also available as a download and for streaming.
“L.T.D.,” the opening track from Trio L.T.D.’s Lauren Newton, Thomas Horstmann, Dirk Rothbrust + Bertl Muetter album, composed by Horstmann, features Lauren Newton on voice, Thomas Horstmann on guitar and synthesizer, Dirk Rothbrust on percussion, and Bertl Muetter on trombone and voice:
Masahiko Togashi-Lauren Newton-Peter Kowald’s Contrast
In 1983, Lauren Newton, percussionist Masahiko Togashi, and bassist/harmonica player Peter Kowald’s Contrast album was released on Japan’s Paddle Wheel label. The LP was recorded live at Goethe Institute in Tokyo on 21 September 1982.
BN: How did the Contrast album with Masahiko Togashi and Peter Kowald come together?
LN: In 1982 I was initially invited to sing several concerts at the Panmusic Festival Tokyo ’82. One concert was with the pianist, Masahiko Sato at Goethe Institute in Tokyo.
Sato and I did not officially record the Goethe concert, but the famous Japanese jazz critic, Teruto Soejima, without my knowing, had recorded it with his tape recorder! Suddenly in 2013 Teruto Soejima told me he had discovered this recording among his things and thought it was very exciting, in retrospect. He asked Sato and I if he could release the music and we agreed.
Both Teruto and Sato spent a lot of time in the studio “cleaning up” the sound, as you might imagine. The music is based on the Tierverse by Bertoldt Brecht, the famous German writer, along with quite a few free improvisations including electronics. It was released in 2014, one year before Teruto died.
In addition to that concert, I was asked by the drummer, Masahiko Togashi to play with him and bassist Peter Kowald at the Goethe Institute. This live concert is the LP Contrast released in 1983.
BN: What do you recall about recording Contrast?
LN: The “Contrast” album is melody in contrast with or comparison with improvisation. The melody always brings the three very diverse musicians back together again. I have always like this way of making music, the jazz standard way of playing. Though I rehearsed ahead of time with Togashi, we barely had time to rehearse with Kowald just before the concert so during the performance I was constantly amazed at his direct and fearless ingenuity! My first true mentors, both Togashi and Kowald.
The first side of the Contrast LP, which consists of the title track and “Twilight South West,” both composed by Masahiko Togashi, is on SoundCloud:
Lauren Newton and the Vienna Art Orchestra
Between 1979 and 1990, Lauren Newton was a singer with the Vienna Art Orchestra, a big band founded by postmodern composer Mathias Rüegg. Newton appears on twenty albums released during her time with one of the Continent’s leading jazz ensembles.
BN: How did this opportunity come up?
LN: In 1979, the leader of the Vienna Art Orchestra, Mathias Rüegg, heard me sing on a live television program (ORF) hosted by Walter Richard Langer in Vienna. The program was dedicated to showcasing various mostly European based groups and Frédéric Rabold was invited that year. Mathias soon after called me to inquire if I would be interested in joining his ensemble, the Vienna Art Orchestra. So in the fall of 1979 I started rehearsing with them and soon we were touring all over Europe.
BN: Is there a recording that stands out from your decade plus with the Vienna Art Orchestra?
LN: My favorite is the double album Inside Out: Live ’87 where I sing the standard “Cry Me a River,” composed by Arthur Hamilton and arranged by Mathias Rüegg.
It also includes a crazy rhythmical composition, “Two Little Animals,” by Matthias Rüegg.
It doesn’t appear any tracks from Inside Out: Live ’87 are currently available on either YouTube or SoundCloud however the original LP and CD are not difficult to find at music marketplace Discogs.
BN: Do you have any plans to perform again with the Vienna Art Orchestra?
LN: I will be performing with the VAO in Vienna in December for Mathias’s 65th birthday. The music is “The Minimalism of Eric Satie,” an album released in 1983 with arrangements of Satie’s music by Mathias Rüegg.
The Minimalism of Erik Satie was remastered on CD by Swiss label hatOLOGY in 2010. This album is also available as a download and for streaming.
A preview of “Reflections on Mediations” from the Vienna Art Orchestra’s The Minimalism of Erik Satie, featuring Lauren Newton and Karl “Bumi” Fian, is here:
Fritz Hauser’s Zwei feat. Lauren Newton
In 1988, Swiss drummer Fritz Hauser’s Zwei album was released on the hat ART label. Lauren Newton is featured on three cuts including “Black Sun,” “Talkback,” and “Down To The Ceiling.”
BN: How did you come to sing on the Fritz Hauser album Zwei?
LN: I was invited to record in a studio for an afternoon, one of several musicians all of which played in duo with Fritz Hauser. I have always loved playing with percussionists and drummers. We had played live concerts together before this recording, but the atmosphere in a studio is quite different. Very intimate and challenging for me.
Zwei is currently available as a CD, digital download, and for streaming.
A sound clip for Fritz Hauser’s “Talkback,” featuring Lauren Newton on voice and Hauser on drums and percussion, was recorded at Radio DRS Studio 2 Zürich in December 1987:
Phil Minton and Lauren Newton
On 13 August 2010, Lauren Newton and British vocalist Phil Minton debuted as a duo at Festival A Voix Haute in Bagnères de Bigorre, France.
BN: What do you recall about this first performance with fellow vocalist Phil Minton ?
LN: Working with Phil Minton was very enjoyable. He told me fascinating stories of how he developed his voice and his work. We were put together by the Festival A Voix Haute 2010 in France, our first meeting directly on stage! Of course, I knew about Phil and he about me, but that is the remarkable thing about this recording – it is pure love of improvising with the voice, no more no less!
Their extended improvisation, O How We, is available as a digital album on Lauren Newton’s Bandcamp site.
Lauren Newton and Joëlle Léandre
Lauren Newton and Joëlle Léandre, a double bassist, vocalist, and composer, have collaborated on several albums both as members of a trio and as a duo. The latter includes 18 Colors in 1997, Face It in 2005, and Conversations: Live in Ljubljana in 2012.
In 2016, they released their latest work together, part of Joëlle Léandre’s 8-CD box set A Woman’s Work. The duo’s newest album is the third CD of the new set from Poland’s Not Two Records, recorded 27 February 2016 at Auditorium Conservatoire of Music of Besançon in France.
An excerpt from Antonio Poscic’s review of Joëlle Léandre and Lauren Newton’s latest release that appeared in The Free Jazz Collective: Reviews of Free Jazz and Improvised Music is here:
Lauren Newton will start with scat singing, improvising in such a way to create a false sense of melody and pleasantness, before choosing an aggressive approach embodied in hisses and screams. As if she was trying to explore the limits of sibilance, she moves through high pitched, impeccably executed screams, and finally returns to the lyricism of spoken word and slam poetry, soulful crooning, and barely heard sounds. Always with perfect control, naturally.
All the while, Joëlle Léandre flexes her approach, adapting and pushing Newton towards a singular narrative. Whether plucking gently at individual strings, swinging her bow furiously, or even choosing to play with silence, there is always a sense of playful tenacity in her tones and vibrations, a sort of vigorous, unbound joy. And when the tension reaches ecstatic climaxes or threateningly contemplative abysses, she starts using her voice to let out cries, hums, and moans, mimicking and resonating with Newton.
BN: What is it like making music with Joëlle Léandre?
LN: Working with Joëlle is always fun as well as intense! She is an extremely dedicated musician, composer, and foremost, a contrabass player. In our concerts, her sense of humor can surface at any point which opens up a whole new range of material to improvise with. Or she might suddenly begin mumbling a nonsensical story while playing or start singing with me! I’ve never experienced a dull moment with Joëlle.
BN: As there don’t seem to be any videos for A Woman’s Work, which earlier collaboration of yours with Joëlle Léandre can you recommend?
LN: I particularly like the two pieces on Vimeo of Joëlle Léandre and myself, including “Face It 1,” recorded in Mexico City in 2006.
Also, this one where we give a joint interview with musical inserts HERE. This was in 2012 Ljubljana, Slovenia, and we released the music on the album Conversations: Live in Ljubljana, in 2012.
Lauren Newton and Barre Phillips
Fellow Oregon natives Lauren Newton and Barre Phillips appeared on Orbit 2: Voyaging Antipodes, the 2006 album recorded live at Asahi Art Square in Tokyo, Japan the previous October.
The album features Tetsu Saitoh on bass, Kazuo Imai on guitar, and a guest artist on each of the four cuts, including Phillips on bass, Newton on voice, Jacque Demierrre on piano, and Urs Leimgruber on saxophone.
BN: Did you and Barre Phillips get a chance to play together during the recording of Orbit 2: Voyaging Antipodes at Asahi Art Square in Tokyo, Japan?
LN: Yes, Barre and I played together on this album, it was a live concert in the Asahi Hall. We played at other venues that year as well. My husband, Koho Mori, organized a tour of about six concerts in Japan with Urs Leimgruber and Jacques Demierre – the same group that I sang with in Lucerne in April this year.
BN: How long have you known Barre Phillips?
LN: Our first meeting was in Baden-Baden, Germany for the Vocal Summit meeting in November 1982, with Bobby McFerrin, Jeanne Lee, Jay Clayton, Urszula Dudziak, Paul Chambers, Rainer Brueninghaus, and more. We spent several days in the radio studio working on various comps by the members and just getting to know each other. The album “Sorrow is Not Forever, Love Is” (Moers Music) is the result of these sessions.
On 21 April 2017, Lauren Newton and bassist Barre Phillips reunited for a live performance at Neubad in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Bassist Barre Phillips and drummer Bill Elgart joined saxophonist Leszek Żadło and guitarist Roland Heinz on the 1991 album Heavy Mental. The Roland Heinz Quartet release is profiled under the “albums” section at the top of the page.
Lauren Newton References
29.09 Dizzy Krisch Quartett @ Jazz Club Session 88
Dizzy Krisch, Karoline Höfler, Bill Elgart, and Lauren Newton’s next gig is at Jazz Club Session 88 in Schorndorf, Germany on Friday 29 September 2017.