(An excerpt from the LACEY MAE Album Notes by Scott Yanow)
Born in Washington D.C, she remembers that her father listened to classical radio while her mother enjoyed the music of Henry Mancini and Andre Previn. Beverly started picking out ideas on the piano from the age of three and was writing songs before she learned to read music. She began classical piano lessons when she was eight, also playing cello in her high school orchestra and teaching herself guitar. She studied veterinary medicine at Michigan State but was drawn back to music. â€œWhen I was doing an independent study research project at a drug rehabilitation center, there was a grand piano and I started playing it every day. My aunt visited me at the facility, heard me play, and asked why I was not working towards becoming a professional musician.â€ Although Beverly earned a degree in psychology, she soon went back to school, majoring in music at Santa Monica College.
Since then, Beverly has worked in a wide variety of settings, having great affection for the time that she spent performing at the Rowdy Creek Yacht Club (in Smith River, California) during 2005-06. â€œI had the ultimate freedom to be myself in my music and it built up my self-confidence tremendously.â€ Of her earlier recordings, which include Walk Away From The Blues, Songs For Wildlife, Tangoâ€”Where Did The Time Go, Oh What A Beautiful Morning, and jazz versions of Christmas songs (A Season Of Faith) and hymns (A Season Of Hope), By Rowdy Creek is the one that gained the most attention. Pianists Jessica Williams and George Kahn were among the many who praised this award-winning 2007 album.
Lacey Mae consists of Beverlyâ€™s personal interpretations of six jazz standards and three of her originals. Her picturesque music features original chord voicings which are sometimes quite dense but are always full of heartfelt emotions. Her solos are rhythmic, have a forward momentum, are often cinematic, and could accurately be called poetry without words. They set scenes for oneâ€™s imagination.
With the release of Lacey Mae, Beverly Ritz looks forward to traveling more extensively, performing at â€œmajor leagueâ€ jazz festivals and clubs across the US and all over the world. Her accessible and haunting style will appeal to many listeners and she has the potential to become a household name.
(Scott Yanow is the author of ten jazz books including The Jazz Singers, Bebop, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76.)