Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Lambert, Jeannette (nee Schwager)
Lambert, Jeannette (nee Schwager), vocalist, lyricist, poet, filmmaker b. Leiden, Netherlands, 15 June 1965. Her mother (b. Agatha Spreij, 1940) is a visual artist and Dutch, and her father (Walter Schwager, b. 1940) is Javanese/German, a professor of sociology, and both are avid jazz fans. When she was six months old, her parents left Holland for Christchurch, New Zealand, and then at age three they relocated to Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. They lived in South Spain for a sabbatical year in 1976, and flamenco music heard in Andalusia influenced Jeannette's vocal style. Her brother, Reg Schwager (b. 1962) began studying classical guitar in Spain. They began guitar lessons together in Sudbury but Jeannette preferred singing, and together they performed jazz duos at folk festivals, coffee houses and clubs. Travelling has also greatly influenced her vocal style, as she draws her much of her inspiration from the passionate vocal traditions of flamenco, fado, and jaipong as well as the great jazz artists. When Jeannette was about to enter highschool the family moved to Toronto. During these early years in Toronto their home became a meeting place for jazz musicians, notably Herbie Spanier, trumpet, Freddie McHugh, bass and Spike (Keith) McKendry, drums. These three veterans of the Montreal jazz scene took Jeannette and Reg under their wings and held continuous jam sessions. They regularly took Reg and Jeannette out to jazz clubs, where they would sit in with visiting jazz artists eg. Jon Hendricks.
After this intensive club-based education, Jeannette opted to study film in university. She did attend the Banff Jazz Summer workshop and performed with the Cecil Taylor Workshop Big Band. Professors at Banff in 1985 included Jay Clayton, David Liebman and Julian Priester. That same summer she performed a workshop version of "A Space Opera" by bp Nichols and the sound poetry group the Four Horsemen. She formed several improvising groups after attending Banff including Contradiction, a vocal trio, and a trio comprised of violin, cello and voice. As well, inspired by Cecil Taylor's workshop in Banff, she performed her melodic poetry with a group called Plectrum Spectrum, four electric guitars and drums. And in 1985 she formed a duo with drummer Michel Lambert (who became her husband a few years later) called Black Fungus. Together they performed in Berlin and Quebec City. She formed the independent jazz record label "Rant" with Michel Lambert and Reg Schwager and they began producing small runs of cassettes in 1991. They continue to produce a number of compact discs and master tapes. In addition to her poetry, her lyrics written for compositions by Reg Schwager have been included in the Canadian Jazz Fakebook and recorded by several other jazz vocalists.
She is the founder and creator of the Jazz Grrls online community. This website includes an extensive list of links to women in jazz, an email discussion list and compact disc reviews of jazz recordings by female artists. She also produces web art and short films which feature her music, and these are screened in many international galleries of new media as well as film festivals. With her films she combines her original music, poetry and film work. In the past few years she has performed in France, Holland, Indonesia, Germany, the U.S.A. and Canada. She lives in Montreal where she has performed at the Du Maurier International Festival du Jazz, and in concert with Barre Phillips and Michel Lambert. She has performed the music of Lone Jack Pine in Chicago, with Tatsu Aoki, at the Festival of Sound with Dave Young, and at the Fringe Jazz Festival in Toronto. Her latest recording, Bebop for Babies, is a selection of jazz versions of classic children's songs inspired by her two young sons, Jerome (b. 2000) and Theo (b. 2003). She premiered this material at the Distillery Jazz Festival in Toronto in 2003.
Songposts, with the Jeannette Lambert Quartet, Vol. 1, WOMCD 1004-2, (1991); Here and Now (1985); Songposts Vol. 1 (1991); Songs for the Last Set (1991); Ballads (1991); Forget Me Not (1992); Ask Her (1994); Ballads II (1996); Jeannette Lambert/ Barre Phillips/ Michel Lambert: Lone Jack Pine (2000); Bebop for Babies; Jeannette Lambert/ Barre Phillips/ Michel Lambert/ Paul Bley: Sand Underfoot (2004)
Black Fungus: Endless Walk (1993); Lonely Universe: a la plage (1993), Here and Now (1995)
Films: Lone Jack Pine, 2001; Givre, 2000; Sunset on St-Viateur, 1999; Little Match Girl, Vivatoon, 1999; Arousal, Sharon Hyman, 1998
Websites: Jazz Grrls, http://www.jazzgrrls.com
Jazz Grrls cd reviews, http://www.imho-reviews.com
Interview, Femmusic.com, 2002