Interview with Jazz singer Ariana Savalas - continues the legacy of mutual love between artist and audience

"To me, jazz music is complete freedom. Sure there are rules, but it reminds me of that movie the Matrix…some rules can be bent, others can be broken."

Ariana Savalas: The Lady Sings The Jazz

Born the youngest daughter of legendary Oscar nominated and Emmy Award winner Telly Savalas, Ariana continues her dad’s legacy of mutual love between artist and audience. She has captivated sold out audiences across the country headlining in some of the nation’s poshest clubs like Herb Alpert’s Vibrato in Beverly Hills, Feinstein’s, the Friar's Club, and Birdland in New York, as well as Palm Beach’s Royal Room. Most recently, she performed for Tiffany & Co's annual gala in Palm Beach, FL.

This seductive chanteuse captivates her listeners with her signature smooth as silk vocals, a quick wit, and a delightfully naughty sense of humor that would make Mae West proud. But adding to this young singer’s successes is her dynamic songwriting talent.  Audiences enjoy a potpourri of music in her live shows ranging from timeless classics of the jazz era infused with Ariana's own original compositions, occasionally accompanying herself at piano and even ukulele. Her ability to marry the old with the new results in a timeless show that is enjoyed by audiences ranging anywhere from nineteen to ninety and beyond.  

Ariana chose to record her debut album, “Sophisticated Lady”, live with her band in Chicago. The result is an authentic, excitingly intimate sound that highlights her fluidity between music of jazz greats like David Frishberg and Duke Ellington and her own creations of poppy jazz confections. "I wanted whoever was listening to my record to feel like I was sitting with them in their living room, sipping a martini and whispering these stories to them," says Ariana, "and maybe if all goes well, we'll move things into the bedroom..."

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the Jazz & Blues people? What does the Jazz mean to you?

There is a great deal of trust that comes from doing live shows and recording live records like my album "Sophisticated Lady". We will always have a general outline of where the song is going to go, but when we perform, every person puts their own special flavor on it, and we all have to have faith that every musician on stage or in the studio is going to take you to a unique and beautiful place. To me, jazz music is complete freedom. Sure there are rules, but it reminds me of that movie the Matrix…some rules can be bent, others can be broken. And because I surround myself with unbelievable musicians every time I perform, I am constantly surprised, and a song that I’ve performed a thousand times can become fresh again and again.

How do you describe Ariana Savalas sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?

Hmmm….my sound is intimate. Whispered to you instead of yelled, understated. Like a little black dress.  Timeless, sensual, and hugs you in all of the right places.

"I would go with my dad and watch Frank Sinatra live at the Sands in Las Vegas." (Photo courtesy of Dailey Pike)

Which is the most interesting period in your life? Which was the best and highlight moment of your career?

I'm living it! Right now is certainly the best and most interesting time in my life, and it just keeps getting better. As for the highlight moment of my career, finishing my first music video and record. I hope people love listening to the record and watching the video as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Why did you think that the Jazz and Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Because it is timeless, and it isn't following trends. In my shows, I am blessed to have people ranging in age from 18-90 years old! There are so many types of gorgeous music, and many of them define generations. And this is beautiful and important. But jazz is not defined by an era or a trend, which gives the genre a capability to continue bridging decades together.

Are there any memories from shows, festivals and recording time which you’d like to share with us?

I just brought my dog onto the red carpet of the Los Angeles Greek film festival because I didn’t want to leave him at home!

What do you miss most nowadays from the Jazz of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss the Rat Pack. They were true showmen, not only did they sing like angels, they were dancers. They were comedians. They were so improvisational, the audience never knew what to expect. One minute they would be falling out of their seats laughing so hard, the next they would be tearing up listening to a powerful ballad. I love singers like Michael Buble and Bette Midler for keeping this spirit alive. When I went to see Buble’s show in Los Angeles, I noticed how beautiful his voice was. But this was just a fraction of what made that show so unbelievably entertaining. He is funny, charming, and so engaging with his audience, a true performer.

Thanks to Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, Sara Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles…the list goes on…countless blues songs have become famous standards in the Great American Songbook." (Photo by Dailey Pike)

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

That the Beatles could live forever.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Soul and continue to Jazz and Cabaret music?

Thanks to Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, Sara Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles…the list goes on…countless blues songs have become famous standards in the Great American Songbook. The artists are the lines that connect the genres together.

What does to be a female artist in a “Man World” as James Brown says? What is the status of women in Jazz?

Thank God there are so many opportunities as a woman now…because I can’t cook to save my life.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

I would go with my dad and watch Frank Sinatra live at the Sands in Las Vegas.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

Be true to yourself, and stop trying to please everyone.  You don't like everyone, so why should everyone like you? And eat broccoli.

"Thank God there are so many opportunities as a woman now…because I can’t cook to save my life."

A sophisticated lady is …

A Sophisticated Lady is…when I see one, I'll ask her…

What would you say to Bessie Smith? What would you like to ask Edith Piaf?

Bessie Smith - Can we duet? ... Edith Piaf - Please…can we duet?!!

Ariana Savalas - official website

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