My first experience with jazz was a lot like most people’s initial encounter—smooth, modern swill. It wasn’t Kerouac’s half-mad bop, and it certainly wasn’t causing anyone to blow their beautiful top in the mud. It was a sad, deflated form of jazz (or jass) invented for people who don’t really like having feelings (sort of like the Zoloft of the music world), but want to seem sophisticated while they sip their sparkling white wines and marvel at the spiritual beauty of a sunset. It didn’t belong anywhere but in an elevator, and even there inexplicably.
But Debbie Voltura is here to remind us that jazz, in it’s pre-elevator days, was once a dangerous, sultry, playful genre—and she has plenty of room to play. Voltura’s career spans nearly 40 years as a professional singer, and she’s still unleashing her sultry, soaring voice everywhere from friends’ living rooms to Madison Square Garden (during that time living everywhere from Mexico to the Catskills). She’s spanned nearly as many genres as decades in the business. She’s done stints writing jingles and music for TV and movies, so she’s done everything from standards to pop to disco, but now she’s returning to her roots: Anything jazzy, swing-ish or torchy serve as the crazed sonic landscape for Voltura’s masterful vocal constructs. “Performing music is my passion,” Voltura says of her raison d’être. “It’s my connection to every person in the world—a language that has no boundaries.” And she communicates that language with authentic jazz accents. In other words, she’ll make you want to ditch that sparkling white wine for the real deal—a gin martini, dirty, straight up with just a wave of that pretentious vermouth. (Phil Fuller)
Debbie Voltura at The Old Town Temecula Community Theate (42051 Main St., Temecula), (866) 653-8696; www.voltura.com. Thurs., November 1; 7pm, $25.