- Terelle Jerricks
By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
Alvas Showroom will be celebrating Loving Day on June 24 by featuring Sandra Booker and her all female jazz and world music ensemble, Eve on a Swing.
Loving Day is the commemoration of the Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court case that struck down anti-miscegenation laws in the remaining 16 states that still had the law on the books as of 1967. The laws essentially criminalized interracial marriages in those states. Though the civil rights victory has been celebrated for more than a couple of decades in various parts of the country, the court case and it impact isn’t widely known.
That began to change in 2001 with the founding of the Loving Day Foundation, founded by Ken Tanabe, a fashion designer and political organizer of mixed race heritage who learned of the case and was inspired to spread recognition of the barrier busting interracial couple. Booker began hosting Loving Day Concerts in 2004, but didn’t turn it into an annual event until 2008.
Booker also has been been staging Saturday Nights at the Jazz Burlesque at venues around Los Angeles, a phenomenal show that features a jazz/classical/ hip hop family trio Sonication, the Emma Ridley’s Pole Divas, and her ensemble Eve on a Swing headlining the show.
Basically Booker has been staging shows that’s been turning heads and breaking necks for quite some time now.
Random Lengths News caught up with the multi-talented and multi-ambitioned artists to talk about her growing creative platform, which includes music, theater, an internet talk-radio show, and a greeting card business. The Eve on a Swing ensemble, though, is arguably the biggest piece of that enterprise.
“The ensemble is a celebration of women in music as well as a platform that highlights women as arrangers and composers rather than just vocalists,” Booker explained.
“People are still shocked when they see a woman that plays the bass or plays the drums and do it really well.
“I want to tap all of these great male musicians and get them involved in the things we do because usually it happen in the opposite. It’s usually an all-male group and a singer gets invited to come and perform a couple of tunes and I just wanted to flip that idea on its head.”
The name Eve on a Swing was derived from the notion of Eve being the first woman and Booker’s imaginings of what jazz would sound like in the Garden of Eden.
“Since Eve is regarded the first woman in the Garden of Eden, I just envisioned her on a swing,” Booker said. “Lets just say I envisioned the Garden of Eden with jazz music in it. And I just thought it was a beautiful and powerful image.”
Booker has worked with and been the head of a number of bands in her career, but notes the dynamics of working with an all female ensemble are distinctly different from one dominated by men.
“I love men, but I wanted it to be an environment where it just felt comfortable to be a woman and express my artistic ideas as a woman.”
She noted that unlike with a man, there are some things she doesn’t have to explain for a woman to understand.
Booker says she’s been involved in the arts since before she was born when she was kicking to the beat of music in her mother’s womb. She notes she was immersed in classical and gospel music, familiar with groups such as the Boston Pops Orchestra to the Chicago Symphony, and composers such as John Towner Williams. She credits her maternal grandmother for this orientation in music.
“I got turned onto jazz music in a way I could never imagine now,” Booker said. “I grew up on Coltrane.”
For her, listening to John Coltrane and Miles Davis was as familiar to her as it was to listen to Tyrone Davis or Earth Wind and Fire. And she was just as comfortable listening to jazz musician Johnny Hartman as she was to the O’Jays.
“So jazz music, and especially with me growing up in New Orleans with Red Tyler who I started singing with at 13 years old, Harry Connick Jr. who sang with when I was 15 years old, Ellis Marsalis was my Professor…..” Booker explained, noting the musical powerhouses she had access to when she was growing up.
Booker credits Harry Connick Jr. for talking her into singing jazz tunes. For her, jazz was instant musical heroin. I was hooked. I tried to beat my addiction because I was real Catholic girl, “oh my daughter’s in a jazz club and her songs going to get stuck purgatory, “Southern people are like that,” Booker said jokingly poked at her parent’s old fashioned conservatism.
Last week, was Eve on Swing’s debut for this year at LAX. She will likely be performing at the House of Blues in July with her ensemble. June 23, she’ll be hosting her Saturday Nights at the Jazz Burlesque at the Goddess House in Sherman Oaks. Cover is $35. On June 24, Booker and Eve on the Swing Ensemble will be performing at Alvas Showroom. Cover is $25 at 5p.m.
Rest assured both nights will be a lovely good time.
Venue: Alvas Showroom
Location:1417 W.8th St., San Pedro