“You can’t take the Detroit out of the girl.” That’s how jazz singer Jesse Palter explains the soul in her voice.
Despite a move to LA, performances in Israel and China, and a recent record contract, she still has a place in her heart for her hometown. She’ll perform at 8:00 p.m. in the Cafe Shalom at the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Oak Park on January 28.
“Detroit jazz is some of the best jazz in the world,” Palter says.
Detroit is where she cut her teeth with performances at River Raisin Jazz Festival, Birmingham Jazz Festival, Boblo Island Jazz Festival (opening for Chuck Mangione), Jazz On the River Festival, Comerica Cityfest, Arts Beats & Eats, and the Detroit Jazz Festival, with Greg Hutchinson joining on drums. These performances with her then-band, the Jesse Palter Quartet, along with other performances across the region, made her a local favorite.
It was that springboard that launched her to larger success such as a month-long stint in Macau, China, with another band of hers, Palter Ego. She was also a headliner at the 2011 Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel.
Palter’s music has been on Keeping Up with The Kardashians, The Real World and on commercials for Coca-Cola and Allstate. Then there is her very recent signing with Mack Avenue Records, a label that originated in Detroit.
Palter’s hometown fans have not forgotten her.
“I’m a big fan and have seen her perform on a number of occasions when she has been in the Detroit area,” says Beth Rodgers, Beth Shalom member and event coordinator. “I knew that she has a significant following around here, especially in the Jewish community. It seemed like a perfect fit to invite her for our concert series.”
For the past 20 years, Cafe Shalom has provided a chance for a night out at Beth Shalom where someone can have a relaxed coffee house-type experience and raise money for the synagogue at the same time.
Palter will perform many of the songs off her upcoming Mack Avenue release. She wrote many of the songs, which came from variety of influences, and says she would be “happy to perform them every day of her life.” There will also be pop songs, and one or two traditional Jewish songs. Of course, there will be jazz, her signature music.
Palter gravitated to jazz because it was an outlet to express herself. While she grew up with Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra playing in her home, it was as a student at Abbott Middle School that her journey truly began when she performed in the school’s version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
After singing her songs in the traditional manner many times in rehearsal, she decided to make one of them really belong to her. She was so good the music teacher went to Palter’s mother and told her it would be a good idea to have her study jazz. It was that desire to break from tradition and do her own thing that got her hooked on jazz’s improvisational style.
“The great thing about jazz is that every performance is unique,” Palter says, describing what drew her to the music.
After traveling across the globe, she views the chance to share that love with her hometown as “a dream come true.”
When she performs at Cafe Shalom she will be backed by some of the musicians she worked with when she called Detroit home. Among them are:
- Miles Brown – assistant professor of music, jazz , combos, jazz, improvisation, arranging, composing, applied jazz bass and the OU Jazz Band at Oakland University
- Xavier Davis – associate professor of jazz studies at MSU
- Keith Hall – jazz drum set professor at Western Michigan University
Palter has been nominated nine times for Detroit Music Awards and has won six. She was Outstanding Jazz Vocalist n 2006, 2008 and 2009. In 2007 she won in three categories, Outstanding Jazz Composer, Outstanding Jazz Vocalist, and Outstanding Jazz Album.
She started off as a girl from West Bloomfield and climbed up the music ladder, but says it is “always such a joy to come home.”
Her music roots here are strong. “You can’t grow up as a musician in Detroit and not be influenced,” she says.
Tickets are $18 in advance when ordered by January 24 or $25 at the door. They can be purchased by calling the Beth Shalom office at 248-547-7970. Refreshments will be served. Beth Shalom is located at 14601 Lincoln St. in Oak Park.
Find out more on the Café Shalom Facebook page.