ST. CHARLES – Alyssa Allgood is becoming a strong force in the Chicago area jazz scene.
The 21-year-old Naperville resident was part of the second annual St. Charles Jazz Weekend in September, and will perform with her band, The Alyssa Allgood Quartet, at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, at The House Pub, 16 S. Riverside Drive, St. Charles.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Allgood about her music.
Eric Schelkopf: I know that you’ve played at The House Pub before. Is it a nice place to play?
Alyssa Allgood: It is. The lighting is nice in there, and the crowd is usually really responsive, which makes it really fun to perform there.
ES: What got you interested in jazz in the first place?
AA: I actually started singing jazz when I was pretty young, about 12 years old. I kind of grew up listening to blues music, which then kind of led me into jazz. I think what drew me to jazz is just the depth of the music, and the ability to sort of try to communicate my own voice within a music that has been around for a long time.
ES: You’ve already worked with some jazz greats, including Jay Clayton and Madeline Eastman.
AA: Yeah, I’ve actually attended a vocal jazz camp that is based at North Central College in Naperville. I’ve worked with a lot of great vocalists and great musicians. I’ve kind of grown up in that program, which I think has helped me have a really great understanding for the music.
ES: I understand, too, that you are in the Jazz Studies Program at North Central College.
AA: I’m finishing my last year of my undergraduate studies here.
ES: What would you like to do after that?
AA: I hope to just perform as much as I can, and I could definitely see myself doing some teaching as well.
ES: It does seem like there is a strong jazz scene in the Chicago area. How do you think it rates compared to other areas of the country?
AA: I don’t know how it compares to other cities. But what I’ve experienced here is that it is a really great scene to be a part of. It really is a community of people who I think genuinely care about the music, and who want to support other people within the business.
ES: Are you currently working on a CD?
AA: I’ve done demos, where we just record a few songs. Those I mostly put on my website to have an updated sound, and pass out to venues. But I haven’t at this point recorded a full album.
ES: What should people expect when they come out to one of your shows? Do you perform a blend of originals and covers?
AA: When we perform at The House Pub, we do a lot of jazz standards. We pull from the Great American Songbook and things like that. Those are songs that are really familiar to jazz listeners and people who aren’t really jazz listeners, but may have kind of just heard the songs. And then I perform my own original songs as well.
ES: What do you think you are bringing to the jazz scene?
AA: The benefit of going to school is that I feel very well trained on the aspects of being a musician first, rather than just being thought of as a singer. I think I have been able to learn a lot about the music and about improvisation and arranging and a lot about the history of the music, which I think is essential to being a part of the art form. I do think I strive to really put my own voice with how I sing songs. I’m getting better at really being able to express something and show who I am within that.