Svetlana & The Delancey Five
Svetlana & The Delancey Five recorded their rebut CD in January 2015! The album was produced by Grammy Award winning Guy Eckstine and has been released to critical acclaim on Origin Records, charted in top 60 on Jazz Radio charts and was critic's choice for Top 10 2015 albums (Classicalite, The Aquarian, Vents Magaizne) - and video premiers at Huff Post, Popdust, Broadway World, and more!
The sounds of hot jazz and swing conjure images of a long-lost world of back-alley speakeasies, frenetic dancers, bathtub gin and tommy gun-toting gangsters. Monday night regulars at New York's famous speakeasy Back Room (http://backroomnyc.com) where Svetlana & The Delancey Five have held swinging court for seven years, know that the world isn't quite as lost as it may seem (minus the gangsters and with booze made in more sanitary conditions). With the release of Night at the Speakeasy, produced by Grammy® Award-winner Guy Eckstine , the rest of us finally have the chance to revel in the sounds of the Delancey Five and their Moscow-born chanteuse, Svetlana Shmulyian (Eckstine called her "Astrid Gilberto via Moscow"). This is no strict throwback band, however; the repertoire on their debut album combines swing-era classics with modern pop songs by the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and original tunes from the pen of Svetlana and her bandmates, who are also noted for their work in the straightahead and modern jazz worlds. There's even a tune by the Russian-German trumpeter/composer Eddie Rosner sung by Svetlana in her native tongue. "No other band on the hot jazz and swing scene would do a song in Russian," says Svetlana with considerable understatement. "I'm interested in songs in any genre. I wanted to write and record songs that you could dance to but that you could also listen to on the radio, in the car, or wherever. It's music that makes you smile."
Indeed, it's hard to suppress a grin when Svetlana's sweet, winsome tones intertwine with the warm, gravelly voice of legendary trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. Over the years that Svetlana has been performing on the New York jazz scene, Gordon has become a mentor and collaborator, contributing several arrangements to Night at the Speakeasy along with singing and playing on the album. "Wycliffe has a natural chemistry with the band," Svetlana says. "He's truly one of the most professional, supportive musicians and band members that I know. He behaves like a soldier in an army that I lead, and then when he steps out the whole room lights up in a different color."
Gordon joins an all-star band that includes drummer Rob Garcia, a bandleader on the modern Brooklyn scene as well as an in-demand sideman (Wynton Marsalis, Anat Cohen, Woody Allen, Vince Giordano, Dianna Krall); Australian-born reeds player Adrian Cunningham, (at that time, lead alto saxophone for Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, Wycliffe Gordon, Professor Cunningham and His Old School); trumpeter Charlie Caranicas (Independence Hall Jazz Band, the Karrin Allyson Group, Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra); master ragtime and stride pianist Dalton Ridenhour (Bria Skomberg, Vince Giordano); bassist George Delancey (Winard Harper, Christian Howes, Richard Galliano, Aaron Diehl); and guitarist Vinny Raniolo (longtime collaborator with Frank Vignola).
Every Monday the band plays for a packed crowd combining swing dancers, jazz aficionados, and those Svetlana refers to as "jazz curious" at the Back Room, one of only two speakeasies from the days of Prohibition still operating today. Located behind Ratner's Deli on Delancey Street (hence the name of the band), the clandestine bar was purportedly the haunt of such underworld notables as Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano.
Since forming in the spring of 2012, Svetlana & The Delancey Five have gone on to consistently sell out a number of renowned New York jazz venues including the Blue Note, B.B. King's, Ginny's Supper Club, Zinc Bar, City Winery, and Kitano while maintaining their home base at the Back Room. The band has also become one of the most in-demand features at the numerous sold out hot jazz and swing events (Prohibition Production, Gemeni & Scorpio, Times Square flashmobs which consistently draw hundreds of attendants) - as well as secured residencies in popular Brooklyn spots whereby seamlessly integrating into the thriving Brooklyn music scene. It's an interesting culmination of the story of a Russian girl who grew up singing, studying piano and classical vocal, singing in traditional Russian choirs - but, at insistence of her family of engineers, studied a more practical subject of mathematics.
It's not an immigrant story that begins in hardship, however. "I had a fabulous, happy childhood in the dark concrete buildings of Moscow," Svetlana recalls. "I have a great family and I guess that's where it starts and ends - it doesn't matter where you are or how long you have to stand in line to get bread and butter. I come from a family of nerds and engineers and the reality of becoming a full-time artist seemed really far-fetched, but in my heart of hearts I always knew I was an artist."