Vocalist Gretje Angell’s debut shines with bold choices and charming talent


Gretje Angell is a singer making her debut with a recording titled “In Any Key.” The title is derived from a bit of banter between the artist and her producer-guitarist, Dori Amarilio. Angell’s musical abilities are apparent from the first note. It is not often that a soprano has a smoky voice, but then “smoky” is not the right word, exactly. But “rich” is.

“In Any Key” is a brief debut with a running time of fewer than 40 minutes. But Angell’s song styling, and even her liner notes, invite listeners in and the songs make them think about the classics and what it means to craft a romantic song that stays with audiences for decades.

About Gretje Angell

Angell is the daughter and granddaughter of drummers. She notes that some of her earliest memories were formed in the “smoky black clubs” that her dad, Tommy “The Hat” Voorhees, played in. The late drummer would cover his young daughter with his jacket and she would sleep in a booth while he played.

The scenes that Angell paints of her early years evoke images worthy of independent films or literary novels. Still, it is easy to see how Angell might have picked up on the idea of music as a career. From getting into her father’s records, and spending time in clubs, it was apparently only a matter of time before she found her voice.

Angell was born in Akron, Ohio. She studied classical music in college, but departed from the form. Eventually, she found her way to jazz. Angell left Akron for Los Angeles and became part of the jazz scene there. She formed her own groups, but also sang with ensembles like the Ladd McIntosh Swing Orchestra, Jack’s Cats, and Glen Garrett’s Big Band. Angell has also sung with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Orchestra.

Sound and style: Gretje Angell’s “In Any Key”

From the liner notes to the music itself, Angell is unabashed about showing who she is. In typical artist fashion, she thanks the people who have supported and helped her inside of the studio and out. Then, in the tiny print, there is a note to the listener. In a move that shows generosity of spirit, Angell thanks listeners. But she includes a directive, too. “Now play that sh-t and go make some babies!”

Well, the songs are romantic. One of the standout tracks on an album of classic and sophisticated songs is “Fever.” The Peggy Lee classic gets a jazz update in Angell’s capable hands. Figuratively speaking.

Angell’s approach to “Fever” involves speeding up the song just a touch. Her delivery is crisp, cool and engaging. The sound elements are there that remind listeners that this is a jazz song, but Angell’s voice steals the show. She proves that high voices can have resonance without being breathy, or by forcing low notes. Instead, she sounds as if she has embraced not only her register, but the tones of her voice. As a result, “Fever” becomes new for jazz fans.

“In Any Key” is scheduled for release July 25, 2019.



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