What do The Clash, Katy Perry, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Chiffons have in common? Their songs are all fair game for joyous re-interpretation by one of today’s most compelling voices in jazz, LaVon Hardison.
“I try to make music that delights me,” she says. “When I first started singing jazz I felt that I had to do it a certain way. I had to be sultry and sophis- ticated. Now I follow my gut and I follow the song. I am more open musically. Also, time mixed with life experience awakens new depths in songs.”
Oh, and about the “Trouble” in the title of her new album: It’s a line from The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” of course, but it’s also a metaphor for the state of the world. “There’s plenty of trouble these days,” LaVon says. But she also sees music as part of the solution.
“Trouble can be uncomfortable,” she says, “but it can also be the beginning of healing. You have to ask: Who is this trouble serving?”
“Anytime you introduce art or music into the world, it’s going to shift things. It’s either a mirror reflecting reality, or it will break someone’s heart open to see something within themselves. That kind of exposure is considered dangerous. The world is working very hard to keep up the veneer. Art and theater continue to tear down that facade. For some people, that’s troublesome. For me, it’s just perfect. I don’t even think of it as a conscious choice; it’s my natural response to the world.”