freethinking nyc James Poole recommendations

Joanne Grauer. You won’t have heard of her.

This isn’t going to be easy. I know near on nothing about the subject of this blog post. I say that, but what I mean is that I know nothing about the artist. Other than the fact that she’s responsible for one of my favourite pieces of music. Ever. So – it’s worth having a swing at writing about the tune, at least…

You know when you’re asked: ‘what’s your favourite song’, and you struggle? There are simply too many to chose from. And then you think about it, and start to settle on some songs that would make the cut. You know that you’ve got to pick something that will stand up and represent the fact that you’re into your music, but you also want to keep it quick. You don’t want to regret your answer. You apply the rationale that ‘for right here, right now, this will do – ask me in five minutes, and you may get a different choice’. Well, for me I always find the answer easy. The problem is that I struggle to share the answer as people just think I’m being deliberately obscure. I’m not. ‘Frog Child’ by Joanne Grauer is truly amazing. I’ll guarantee that the vast majority – properly tending to 100% – of people won’t know it. It’s a shame.

It was first introduced to me, as with so much other music, at university. I had a copy of the excellent ‘Talkin’ Jazz’ compilation, pulled together by Gilles Peterson and put out on his ‘Talkin’ Loud’ label. It’s a compilation of music from the German MPS label, subtitled ‘Themes From The Black Forest’. I’ve played it to death over the past 16 years. While there’s barely a wrong note on the album at all, ‘Frog Child’ towered above the rest.

If you’re not into jazz, don’t let the genre association alone put you off. This is an example of a jazz trio of the highest order. In barely six minutes, a set of keys, drums and bass work towards a groove which, even as I type, and as well as I know this tune, has me struggling to fathom the depth of what the trio can achieve. This is deep funk. From a trio. Joanne Grauer’s key work is just stunning.

I’ve played ‘Frog Child’ on the radio (it was frequently aired by me and a few mates at university). I’ve also played it in bars when DJing live, including freethinking nyc. I can honestly say that it gets a reaction. It’s truly remarkable.

The version I am sharing a link to here is actually not the one which I originally came across. It’s a tad shorter (sorry about that), but it’s still well worth six minutes out of anyone’s day. Enjoy. And I’m not being deliberately obscure.

I do, however, reserve the right to change my favourite song in five minutes.

11 replies on “Joanne Grauer. You won’t have heard of her.”

I’ve been looking for The Voice for 34 years. My boyfriend at the time used to play the album to me over and over. He put it on tape for me, but I didn’t know who the artist was or what the name of the album was. All I could remember was that there were lips on the cover. I’ve kept that tape and searched continually, asking people if they knew the track, looked on the internet, lyric searched to no end.
Over Christmas 2015, I was telling my partner about the track and I thought I could try and get a digital recording of it. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found the track in a round about way via shazam!
My search has finally been put to rest, I’ve just had the album delivered today, Joanne Grauer introducing Lorraine Feather, and I’m sitting listening to it now, it’s marvellous. For me, ‘The Voice’ is the best tune I’ve heard, and I haven’t changed my mind in 34 years. I still can’t believe I’ve found it!

I also have the Talkin Jazz and its a CD that got me big into jazz. The piano solo on See You Later off the 1977 MPS is incredible…. and I agree Frogchild is the track off that comp.

The Fender Rhodes version of the Frogchild track comes from an Avar release from 1974. Its actually a long track on the LP at around 11 mins. Incredible bit of funk… fluid runs on the Rhodes.

What puzzles me is how someone with those looks and talents never really became a major star. Its not clear to me why she did not release many more albums but maybe she was happy just making a career in music…

I used to have her 1957 Trio album on Mode… she must have been about 16 on that!

Sadly Joanne passed… not sure when but its relatively recently… certainly post 2006.

I knew Joanne when she was 18. She was the pianist in my trio. Over several years I saw and heard her play at various venues. Sometime around 2006, that you mentioned, I visited her at her home and have lost track of her since. Just today I was listening to a special recording she gave me that she made with the LA Chamber Orchestra. Magnificent! You mentioned that she passed. If you have any details about that I’d be grateful if you would contact me. For reference, today’s date is 10/17/2018.

I’m currently listening to a recording she made with jazz guitarist Art Johnson – Time Remembered. Johnson also passed just a couple of weeks ago. Time Remembered is on iTunes, at least. I’ve searched for an obit on Grauer but haven’t been able to find one.

Does anyone know if Joanne Grauer has indeed passed away? If so, I would appreciate the information. Thank you. Chris Kleinhenz

Joanne Grauer used to live right on the next street from me in Studio City.
Joanne was brilliant, perfect rhythm, chord changes and rhythm changes that just knocked me out. I have a casette recording she gave to me with her playing with a trio Takin it to the Streets . Her own composition Lonely Giraff so beautiful and touching, inspired, haunting

Yes Joanne did pass away. She was last in a nursing home in Reno, NV and sadly no longer remembered she had been a pianist. Her brother, a bass player and his wife live at Lake Tahoe .

Orange Funk – sadly, the reason she never became a major star was that she suffered from mental illness. She was brilliant, but broken, and could never get out of her own way. She was my jazz teacher for many years, and she was never easy. But she so worth the effort to be connected. On the good days, she was breathtaking, clear, and loving. I think everyone who knew her well had the thought at one time or another “if only”. If only she’d been well, if only her genius could have been expressed without compromise. I love her to this day.

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