Jeannette Lambert began singing jazz at age nine and began 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. The landscape of Northern Ontario and life by a lake inspired her to write music and poetry early in life. Later, when her mother pursued studies in visual art, her family moved to Chinatown in Toronto. Her mother, visual artist Agatha Schwager, inspired her to combine creativity and intuition and her father, sociologist Walter Schwager, introduced her to jazz music. As a child she learned a large repertoire of jazz standards which she performed with her brother, jazz guitarist Reg Schwager. When she met her husband, jazz drummer and composer Michel Lambert they soon began touring and recording together, performing and living in Amsterdam, New York, the south of France, Toronto and Paris.
They have two sons and have lived in Montreal, Quebec, for over two decades. Their youngest son is an illustrator specialized in rap cover art aka Beamboy.illustrator, in case you arrived here wondering about that. He has animated many of Jeannette’s latest music videos. Her oldest son, Jerome, sequences all the albums on the label and also performs on her upcoming album, Genius Loci North.
Jeannette has worked with many internationally acclaimed musicians and performs regularly in France, Holland, Indonesia, Germany, England, the U.S. and Canada. For her seventh cd as a leader, Sand Underfoot, she performed with Barre Phillips, Michel Lambert and special guest Paul Bley. Like her previous recording, Lone Jack Pine, with Michel and Barre, it features songs instantly composed around her poetry. In 2019 she released Genius Loci Mixtape with songs composed and recorded while travelling. Described in the WholeNote as “an imaginative and intimate travelogue in music” it features music recorded with a dozen musicians including Michel, Reg, Barre and others from Europe and Indonesia.
She co-founded the music label Jazz From Rant with Michel Lambert and Reg Schwager in 1991, initially releasing recordings 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, including her albums of jazz standards, free jazz poetry and Bebop for Babies, her jazz versions of classic children’s songs.
In her youth, 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 the legendary Cecil Taylor, vocalist Jay Clayton and many others at the Banff Jazz Workshop. She has presented a paper on Cecil Taylor’s inspiration on her work in Brooklyn, New York at the Unit Structures conference.
She is also a multi-media artist, having majored in film production and film studies 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 have been screened in museums and festivals worldwide.
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 are 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 an international 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.
She travelled to France and England to participate in Michel’s Ars Transmutatoria and she works on his many inventive recordings for free jazz orchestra. Her album Genius Loci East was released last year and includes songs composed in the summer of 2019 during travels in Java and Japan.
Genius Loci North, instantly composed in six different locations in Quebec, her home province, will be released very soon. It features Jeannette, Reg and Michel performing as well as features from a surprising and mystical collection of friends and family.