JoAnn Funk, jazz singer pianist
JoAnn is a native of Wisconsin. She received a piano performance degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and began a serious study of jazz after college. After a tour as a musician on the SS Norway, she moved to the Twin Cities, armed with determination and a ever deepening love of jazz. This elegant, charismatic and sophisticated jazz singer pianist has performed ever since, for her own shows and concerts and in a variety of venues. She is currently in her seventh season of performing regularly (September through May) at Jazz in The Lobby Bar in The Saint Paul Hotel, with her longtime bassist Jeff Brueske.
She has developed a dedicated fan base of people who love her song choices, voice, out of the ordinary arrangements, piano skills and all around musicality.
As a singer, JoAnn's distinctively intimate and unique voice is often compared to Norah Jones, Diana Krall or Blossom Dearie, yet her warm vocal style is all her own. With a knack for finding great songs and overlooked treasures, she performs smartly arranged music from the songbooks of anyone from Nat King Cole and Blossom Dearie to Leonard Cohen and Madeline Peyroux. Blossom Dearie is indeed a favorite of hers - JoAnn has performed an entire show of Blossom Dearie songs.
In the tradition of singer pianists Nat King Cole, Diana Krall and Blossom Dearie, JoAnn is equally comfortable performing as an instrumental jazz pianist as she is as a singer pianist. She has a sensitive, swinging and clean piano technique, and her jazz piano influences range from Red Garland and Erroll Garner to Oscar Peterson to Brad Meldau.
In the summer and early fall months, JoAnn is a performer/lecturer on the luxury paddle wheeler The Queen of The Mississippi as it travels from St Louis to St Paul. She performs with her husband, baritone Steven Marking in a variety of shows and giving lectures. She plays the calliope on the boat. She loves being on the Mississippi River.
JoAnn has recorded three CDs, the first “Holidays”, a collection of fresh arrangements of Christmas songs, which won a top 10 award from Just Plain Folks in the year of its release, “Solo Piano”, a perfect collection of solo piano favorites-from Bach to Ellington and "Pick Yourself Up" featuring JoAnn as a singer pianist with her trio, released to great reviews in April of 2011. She has a new CD scheduled to be released in 2015.
Other Musicians JoAnn performs with regularly
Jeff Brueske, bass
Jeff Brueske is truly a multi-talented musician. After completing a masters in guitar performance and pedagogy, he was inspired to take up the double bass by listening to jazz greats such as Charles Mingus and Charlie Haden. He studied jazz bass with Anthony Cox and classical bass with Robert Anderson of the Minnesota Orchestra. Jeff is the co-leader of Sidewalk Cafe, a highly acclaimed bass, guitar and violin trio playing original and gypsy swing jazz. At ease playing any style of music, from classical to all styles of jazz and bluegrass, he is an in demand performer for many groups, shows, concerts and sessions in the Twin Cities. He is also an excellent vocalist, choir director and is a well respected teacher of bass and guitar, both at the college level and through private instruction.
Nathan Norman, drums
Nathan is a native of Washington, DC. He earned a Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music and studied with the Percussion Group Cincinnati at the University of Cincinnati before returning to Washington to teach at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Nathan has performed in a variety of musical settings including performances with the Louisville Symphony, Mannheim Steamroller, the Percussion Group Cincinnati, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis. Nathan is a skilled, creative and sensitive drummer. He is a favorite of all groups in the Twin Cities area. He has been performing and recording as a freelance musician in the Minneapolis area since 1988.