Arts & Events
Vocalist and Berkeley resident Lorna Kollmeyer—Lorna K. to her many Bay Area fans—is topping off her 15-year “overnight success” career of singing the American songbook with a live recording session for her first CD at the Plush Room in San Francisco Monday evening, Dec. 3.
Titled In My Room, her CD will feature songs by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, “along with ‘Nature Boy,’ and two French numbers inspired by Petula Clark,” said Kollmeyer. “I grew up in L.A.’s South Bay area, not far from the Beach Boys, and have been integrating their songs into my repertoire the past couple of years, interpreting them in a jazz idiom. They belong in the American songbook along with Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart—as Leonard Bernstein also believed.”
Kollmeyer, who took up Afro-Cuban conga drumming in the mid-’80s, began singing after meeting guitarist Ned Boynton, her first husband, and playing for his indie rock group out of Oakland, The Bunyups. “My first exposure to jazz was sitting in with Ned’s combo on Latin numbers,” Kollmeyer recalled, “and listening to Ella and Sarah in his record collection—then hearing Paula West when some friends hired us to back her up at a party.”
She has attracted a large, loyal fan base from her remarkable sense of contact with her audience and constant enriching of her repertoire. “I wasn’t inspired till now to record,” she said, “But I’ve found my voice doing covers of these tunes, and am finally in the realm where I’m comfortable with my improvisational skills enough to honor a song yet do something different with it, make you want to listen to it.”
Much of her performing has been in the city, at Enrico’s and Shanghai 1930, but Lorna K. has performed at Downtown in Berkeley—and her band, The Dunes, is all Berkeley High graduates: Greg Sankovich, piano; Tom Griesser, saxophone; Kurt Ribak, bass; Bryan Bowman, drums. The Plush Room gig will be one of the last for that important cabaret venue; after New Year’s, Rrazz Productions, which handles Kollmeyer, will relocate to the Nikko Hotel.