Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Newton, Lauren (Amber)

Newton, Lauren (Amber), vocalist, educator; b. Coos Bay, OR, 16 November 1952.

Newton grew up in Coquille, Oregon. Her sister, Kimberly, was born May 23, 1956, and brother, Tracy, was born March 13, 1960. Both parents, Lionel (born 1932) and Colene (born Macnab 1933), were musical and when Lionel decided in 1961 to get a college degree in music at the University of Oregon, the family moved to Eugene, where they lived until 1965. During this time Lauren was exposed to classical as well as jazz music. Lionel played bass and tuba, sang in jazz clubs to help pay for tuition and through his classical studies, Lauren learned to accept both musical genres equally. She sang with her mother, Colene and her sister, Kim, at church or at special functions.  Lionel took a teaching position and moved with the family to Grants Pass, Oregon, in 1965 where Lauren continued singing in school choirs, classical and jazz, as well as taking piano and violin lessons. She graduated in 1971 from Grants Pass High School and returned to Eugene, Oregon, to study music where she received her Bachelor of Music degree as a voice major in 1975 from the University of Oregon. In 1974, as a college Junior, she joined a group of graduate students and teachers, one of them being her voice teacher, Neil Wilson, and travelled to Germany for a year of studies and cultural saturation. There she remained to continue studies and in 1977 she received a degree in Vocal Performance from the School of Music in Stuttgart under opera singer, Sylvia Geszty. She has performed 20th century music as well as works written especially for her by composers Adriana Hoelszky, Bernd Konrad, Wolfgang Dauner, Hans Joachim Hespos, Hannes Zerbe, Werner Raditschnig and others.

Her first encounter with the jazz scene in Stuttgart was in 1976 with the 8- piece jazz-rock group, Frederic Rabold Crew, with whom she toured extensively all over Europe until 1979 and recorded her first three LPs. This was the onset of her individual style of singing, a contemporary form of scatting, i.e. singing without words. At the same time, she began composing for her own group, Choice, founded together with guitarist, Thomas Horstmann. She soon established a name for herself as a singer of written as well as of freely-improvised music, for the most part singing and vocalizing in a purely "instrumental" style. In 1979 Matthias Ruegg, leader, composer, and arranger for the 12-instrument jazz big band "Vienna Art Orchestra" in Vienna, Austria, asked her to join the group. She remained with them until 1990. She moved from the university city of Tuebingen, Germany, in 1986 to Vienna, Austria, and lived there until 1990 thereafter returning to Tuebingen. The projects with VAO ranged from extended concert tours performing in nearly every jazz festival in Europe including Berliner Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, the festvals in Frankfurt, Muenster, Moers, Cologne, Donaueschingen, Freiburg, Muelhausen, Madrid, Barcelona, Nancy, Nimes, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxemburg,  Zurich, Schaffhausen, Genf, Warsaw, Viennese Festwochen, and concert tours in India, Mozambique, Thailand, USA, and Canada, to film music, radio productions, and theater peices, as well as numerous recordings for CDs. In 1982-3 she toured with Vocal Summit comprising of the singers Bobby McFerrin, Jeanne Lee, Jay Clayton and Urszula  Dudziak. Also in 1982, her first recording in Japan was released. Since 1982 she travels regularly to Japan for concerts and recordings with different Japanese artists such as Masahiko Satoh, piano/composer, Kazutoki Umezu, saxes, Koichi Makigami, voice, Yuki Saga, voice, Haruna Miyake, piano, Kyoko Kuroda, piano, Tetsu Saitoh, bass, Sawai Kazue, koto, Etsuko Takezawa, koto,  and Ko Muroboshi, butoh dancer, among others. She participated in the Tokyo Music Joy Festival '86. In 1993 she toured Japan and recorded with the group "Hikasu." In 2000 she toured the country with the vocal quartet "Timbre". Numerous Japanese interviews and articles have been published about her. In 1989 she was commissioned to compose music for the theater piece "The Birds" by Aristophanes at the Burg Theater in Vienna, Austria, and in 1990 for the dance-theater production "The Insects" for the Freiburg Theater in Germany. Her commissioned works extend also into the realm of radio-plays for German, Swiss and Austrian radios as well as for film. In each production, she not only wrote singing parts for herself but participated as an actress, too. Since 1990 she performs continuously with the vocal quartet "Timbre", whose members are singers Elisabeth Tuchmann, Oskar Moerth and Bertl Muetter, who also plays trombone. In 1995 she married the Japanese artist, Koho Mori, (born July 25, 1951). Lauren and her husband, Koho, live in Tuebingen, Germany. Since 1995 Lauren performs regularly with Joelle Leandre, bass, Fritz Hauser, drums, Urs Leimgruber, saxs, Heiri Kaenzig, bass, Mark Huber, drums, Wolfgang Puschnig, saxes, and Patrick Scheyder, piano. Diverse music projects, concerts, radio and recordings are for the most part documented on LP/CD, but countless radio specials and interviews in German, Swiss, French and Austrian radios have been devoted to her. Aside from her own projects, there have been those with musicians: Jon Rose (violin/comp), Maria Joao, voice, Eckard Koltermann, saxes/composer, Paolo Damiani, cello/composer, Hannes Zerbe (piano/comp), Vladimir Tarasov (drums), Christy Doran (guitar), Anthony Braxton(sax/flute/composition), Michael Donhauser, poet, and  the  European Chaos String Quintet. Her commissioned works as soloist include performance art projects and collaborations with various dancers. From 1986-87 she was guest professor for vocal jazz at the jazz department of the Music School in Graz, Austria. From 1989 until 1993 she taught vocal jazz at the Folkwang Music School in Essen, Germany. In 1992 she taught at the Berlin University of the Arts. She has given seminars at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and Innsbruck, Austria. Since 1993 she holds a teaching position for vocal jazz and free improvisation at the School of Music in Lucerne, Switzerland, having received a Professor title in 2002.She gives seminars and workshops on extended vocal techniques and free improvisation, continues to perform with her own ensembles, joins various musicians in their own musical projects, and as a soloist, she creates concepts for each individual venue, be it a church, art gallery, hot spa, or cavern.

Timbre (Annual German Critics Award 1983) (1983); 2nd Room, 2nd Conversation (1986); Voiceprint (1988); Art is... (1994); Timbre (vocal quartet) (1995); Trio L.T.D. & Bertl Muetter (1996); 18 Colors with Joelle Leandre (1997); Altered Egos (1998); Anthony Braxton/Lauren Newton: Composition 192 (1998); Filigree (rerelease of 1983 "Timbre" 1998); Various artists: Frau Musica(nova), Festival fur neue Musik, Koeln (1999); Sonatina (1999); Out of Sound (2002); The Lightness of Hearing (2002); Timbre plus (2003)
As sideperson:
Frederic Rabold Crew: Package of Voices (1976), Balance (1977), Funky Tango (1979); Vienna Art Orchestra: Tango from Obango (1979), Concerto Piccolo (1980), Suite for the Green Eighties (1982), From No Time to Rag Time (1982), From No Art to Mo(z)art (Vienna Art Choir) (1983), The Minimalism of  Eric Satie (1985), Five Old Songs (Vienna Art Choir) (1984), Serapionsmusic (1984), A Notion in Perpetual Motion (1985), Nightride of  a  Lonely Saxophone Player (1985), Amiga (1985), Swiss Swing (Vienna Art Choir) (1986), Two Little Animals (1987), Inside Out (1987), Blues for Brahms (1989), Innocence of Clichees (1990), Highlights 1977-90 (1992); Ernst Jandl: bist eulen? (1984), vomvomzumzum (1988), lieber ein saxophone (1989); Vocal Summit (L.Newton,J.Clayton,U.Dudziak, J.Lee & B.McFerrin): Sorrow is Not Forever, Love is (1982); Masahiko Togashi, L.Newton and Peter Kowald: Contrast (1983); Bernd Konrad: Marilyn-Wen die Goetter Lieben (1981), Suedpool Project 1 (1990); Thomas Horstmann-Zweitett: It's All Inside (1987); Fritz Hauser: Zwei (1988), Kimus#2 (1988); Paulo Damiani: Musica Munta Orchestra: Anninnia (1985), Unisono (1988), Voices-live in Rome (1987), Live bei Dacapo (1989); Eckard Koltermann: Wie Schrecklich Schwinden Unsere Kraefte (1993); Hikasu: London Eye, Paris Eye (1993); Schaffhauser Jazzfest 1993: Ma Na (1993); Jon Rose: Violin Music For Supermarkets (1994), Eine Violine fur Valentin (1995), Shopping (1996); Secret Passion Orchestra: Wait Until Dark (1996); Kindertotenlieder, G.Mahler: Five Dances (1994); Choral Concert, Passion (feat. Timbre) (1994); Klangraeume: Catalogue, 1st (1994); Not Missing Drums Project: Urban Voices (1997); Various Artists: Festival Concepts of Doing 1999 (2000), Musik in Deutschland 1950-2000, Vokale Kammermusik Sprachkomp (2001)

Behrent, Joachim-Ernst; Das Jazzbuch, p.498 -500, 532. Fischer Verlag 1991
Giddins, Gary, Rhythm-A-Ning, p.163 -65. (1983) Da Capo Press edition,Aug. 2000
Davis, Francis; In the Moment, Jazz in the 80's, p.76, 78,80. Oxford University Press 1986
Kunzler, Martin; Jazz Lexikon 2, p.859-860. Rowohlt Verlag GmbH 1988
Friedwald, Will; Swinging Voices of America, p.281, 290. 1st pub. under "Jazz Singing". Hannibal Verlag 1990 and 1992
Vienna Art Orchestra 1977-97. Falter Verlag, Vienna, Austria - www.vao.at
Jazzlive, Nov.1986. Title page and interview in german
Jazzthetik, June 1989. interview in german, Christian Emigholz
Jazz Podium June 1990. interview in german, Katarzyna Kumpf
Jazzthetik, Aug. 1991. interview in german, Ute Boechter-Roemer du - die Zeitschrift der Kultur (cultural magazine), Switz., April '92, p.83 - 85, Peter Buerli in german
Lupi, Vladimiro; "Vocalese 2", in italian, Ferrara, Italy, 1998, p.42-44
Cadence, April 2003, interview by Alan Drouot


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