Vocalist Jeannette Lambert began singing jazz at age nine and was already performing professionally at coffeehouses at age twelve. Born in the Netherlands, to a Dutch mother and an Indo (Indonesian-German) father, she grew up in Sudbury, Ontario in Canada where her father was teaching at the local university. The landscape of Northern Ontario and life along a lake inspired her to write music and poetry . Later, when her mother went to study visual art at York University, her family moved to downtown Toronto where she attended high school and university. Her mother, visual artist Agatha Schwager, was instrumental in inspiring her in how to use her creativity and intuition, while her father, sociologist Walter Schwager, is an avid jazz fan whose musical tastes and encouragement have been influential in her life. Her older brother, jazz guitarist Reg Schwager, inspired her to learn a large repertoire of jazz standards which they performed together as kids. When she met jazz drummer and composer Michel Lambert they started their vocal/drum duo Black Fungus, touring and recording together. They married and together they have lived and performed in Amsterdam, New York, the south of France, Toronto and Paris. They have two sons and have lived in Montreal, Quebec, for the past two decades.
Jeannette has worked with many internationally acclaimed musicians and has performed in France, Holland, Indonesia, Germany, England, the U.S. and Canada. In her travels to Indonesia she has performed in Toraja in Sulawesi, Jakarta, Java, and Ubud and Seminyak, Bali. For her seventh cd as a leader, Sand Underfoot, she performs with Barre Phillips, Michel Lambert and special guest Paul Bley. Like her previous recording, Lone Jack Pine, it features songs instantly composed around her poetry. She appears on Michel Lambert’s recording Unclouded Day, available on the Swedish label, Ayler Records singing poems by the great Victorian writers, the Brontë sisters . Her album Born to Be Blue is a collection of her favourite cinematic jazz standards. She is featured on Philip May’s cd Sudbury along with other jazz performers from Northern Ontario. She appears on Michel’s Alom Mola and Reg’s Songbook cd. Her newest recording, her eight as a leader, Genius Loci Mixtape, was released in September 2019 and includes music recorded around the world with a dozen musicians.
She co-founded the music label Jazz From Rant with Michel Lambert and Reg Schwager, initially releasing their music on cassettes before moving on to compact disc production. Their label has been successful in documenting a wide variety of music and unusual collaborations and their catalogue includes over 50 recordings.
As well she composes lyrics in both English and French for a variety of performers. She has recorded music for a variety of toys and games with her youngest son, coaches her eldest son in jazz vocals, encourages them both to record original music with their friends, and has produced an online video course on How To Sing Jazz for a music school in China. Her vocal jazz course will be available on this site next year.
Musicians she’s worked and recorded with include: Michel Lambert, Reg Schwager, Barre Phillips, Paul Bley, Herbie Spanier, Bobby Few, Jean-Jacques Avenel, and many more.
In the past, back when she was a punk and went out to punk, reggae and industrial music concerts often, she performed sound poetry and led a series of bands of free jazz with 4 guitars (Plectrum Spectrum) and 3 voices (Contradiction). She studied with vocalist Jay Clayton, the legendary Cecil Taylor and many others at the Banff Jazz Workshop. She will be presenting a paper on Cecil Taylor’s inspiration on her work later this month in Brooklyn, New York at the Unit Structures conference.
She is also a multi-media artist, having majored in film production at York University. Much of the music she has recorded around her poetry has been included in her web art and digital films and she is considered a pioneer in internet cinema. Her internet films and web art were screened in museums and festivals worldwide. She also a part-time photographer, documenting her daily life as art and selling her photos through various channels online.
In the late 1990s she founded the Jazz Grrls online community for women in jazz to tackle gender bias in the industry. A few years ago she conducted several interviews with her favourite female improvisers and innovators which can now be viewed on her Youtube channel . They discuss topics such as balancing life and art, and the role of mysticism in improvised music.
She has kept a dream journal for several decades considers active dreamwork a vital part of her creative process. In 2016 she presented her music and gave a workshop entitled Singing Your Dreams at the International Association for the Study of Dreams conference in the Netherlands. She took several online courses in active dreaming with Robert Moss and is an member of a Psiberdreaming group. She presented her paper on dream gifts at the IASD Psiberdreaming Conference online. You can read more about how she uses dreaming in her creative process on this blog.
Music currently in production includes Genius Loci East, a series of songs composed this past summer during travels in Java and Japan, and she’ll be travelling to France and England to participate in Michel’s Ars Transmutatoria workshop productions later this year.
© Jazz from Rant, 2019