In recent decades, northern New England states-Vermont and New Hampshire in particular-have become new havens for talented transplants fed up with either urban crime, suburban sprawl, or the general angst of residing in all those crowded places down country.
Well, their loss is our gain. Each week, newspapers like this one discover fresh, veteran talent lurking between barn, mountain and meadow.
That's why classical-jazz pianist and singer Jayne Kelly, formerly of Long Island, N.Y., is such a delight to have right here in northern New England.
According to Kelly, she began studying piano at the age of eight with Sonia Stein, the respected Russian pianist.
After Stein passed away, the young Kelly pursued her studies with Walt Multer. Completing high school, Kelly attended Crane School of Music where she continued tinkling the ivories under the gaze of master Frank Iogha. She graduated with a B.A. degree in music.
Kelly eventually found her muse was best tapped in the foothills of New Hampshire. And she frequented both sides of the Connecticut River to pursue her art and audience. She even met Lithuanian pianist Yura Chute and continued honing her art with his assistance.
In the intervening years, Kelly became an accomplished performing, recording artist, and music instructor. She remains accessible to audiences and feels at home in the Connecticut River Valley.
Kelly's recent album, "Virtually Live," is a wonderful surprise and demonstrates this artist's amazing talents.
It features compositions from classical and contemporary composers. A unique composition by local composer Marilyn Ziffrin is noted. In fact, Ziffrin was so impressed she later wrote a piano piece just for Kelly. She performed it live in 2006.
While this reviewer loves classical, his personal favorite is what is now popularly called the "Great American Songbook." Here Kelly shines just as brightly as she does in the formal fields of classical. Jazz is somewhat new for Kelly but she has an inborn knack for the genre. She sings it with genuine passion and verve.
Kelly proves she's a pro-when you can seemlessly blend contemporary jazz and all things Rogers and Hart, you are a master. Her voice is often described as "enchanting, nuanced, and gracefully penetrating." The writer concurs; those words describe the artist to perfection.
If you're lucky to see Kelly in concert here inVermont or travel across the river, pay close attention to Songbook tunes such as "Lazy Afternoon," "My Funny Valentine," "The Days of Wine and Roses," and "I'll Be Seeing You," among others. These are among the best renditions heard although the reviewer still have a fondness for the Sammy Davis Jr. version of "... Funny Valentine." And in the classical vein, Kelly has mastered the classical masters: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Debussy, Mozart, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Prokovieff.
It is clear that Jayne Kelly's talents are winning her a growing following of New England fans. If you're new to Kelly, like this writer is, you can follow her on Facebook or check out her performance calendar on the artist's Web site www.jaynekelly.com. The unique thing about Kelly is that each performance is individualized which makes for pleasant surprises and enhanced listening pleasures.
Ah, lucky are the music students from Vermont and New Hampshire who study with Jayne Kelly. She travels to her studios in Keene, Washington, and Concord to instruct students that range from youth to adult. We will have a new generation of artists to look forward to.
Check It Out: See Jayne Kelly live in Vermont this weekend. Stone Church Arts of Bellow Falls will present Kelly performing jazz and classics on a Steinway nine-foot grand piano, 7:30 p.m., at Immanuel Episcopal Church, 20 Church St., Bellows Falls. Admission at the door.