Mercedes Nicole PR Downloads:
Photos/Bio - 5.6 MB (.pdf)
You Were Never Mine - 11.7 MB (.mp3)
Blackberry Winter - 6.8 MB (.mp3)
Afro Blue - 2.8 MB (.mp3)
Click images to download full-sized photos
Soft-spoken Mercedes Nicole has an intimate and alluring stage presence that reaches out beyond the limits of time and space. Her voice is haunting and arresting, wrapping itself like a comforter around the human experience, encouraging uplift, seeking not only triumph but healing. Her voice is that exquisite mix of a mezzo soprano and contralto that permeates and interrupts one's thoughts, lingering.
Her own compositions acknowledge life's obscure and melancholy moments that so easily turn into beauty, and life journeys of the many faces of love. Her music exudes strength in the midst of tenderness and often soars so freely that the listener is caught up on wings of mystery and intrigue. It makes sense then that her influences run from Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan to Nina Simone and the queen of storytelling, Nancy Wilson, with whom Mercedes shares her birthday.
Nicole's unique infatuation with music began early as a private affair, sitting at the feet of her father at age seven as he played and replayed the warped albums he treasured of the great women in jazz, Billy Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan. Seeing her complete fascination with jazz, her father began sneaking her into clubs in Los Angeles, where she spent most of her childhood and teen years seeing and hearing greats like Nancy Wilson, Bobby Hutcherson and Cal Tjader. However, being brought up as a strict Baptist, Mercedes did not venture into music like her peers in high school or college, but majored in Sociology and Social Work.
In 2000 she met and was befriended by Seattle's own matriarch of jazz, Ms. Grace Holden, whose father, the late great Oscar Holden, Senior, was credited by author and historian Paul de Barros as "the patriarch of jazz in the Northwest." Grace recognized the talent in Ms. Nicole and became a mentor, encouraging her hidden passion to come to fruition and burst into the open.
In 2001 she wrote, produced and performed her first tribute to the edgy and provocative Nina Simone at the 300-seat Microsoft Auditorium in the Seattle Public Library. In 2008 and 2009, she debuted her uncanny ability to translate the treasured recordings of Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, a highly acclaimed national stage and a favorite of many of the great touring artists of all genres.
In 2012, hearing of the death of Hall of Famer Etta James, Nicole presented a tribute at the historic Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center to a sold-out crowd. Her new CD, Beautiful Alignment, is a richly percussive album with an award-winning rhythm section that showcases her unique songwriting and that of her co-writer Peter Tomack.
Mercedes has a rich resonance and fluidity in her voice, and humanly connects to the message birthed in each song, transparently sharing her joy as well as her pain. She loves aligning with the message and deep meaning behind lyrics, embracing the tension and rhythms of life that gives magic to each song.
Marc Seales is a pianist specializing in post-bop compositions, based in Seattle. He has worked with Don Lanphere, Benny Carter, Bobby Hutcherson, and Art Pepper, among many, many others. His group New Stories has released three albums on Origin Arts and worked with vocalist Mark Murphy on the Grammy-nominated Song for Geese album. Seales tours relatively regularly on his own for studio sessions, as well as with New Stories for various concerts. He also leads the Marc Seales Quartet and is a member of Milo Peterson's Jazz Disciples. Seales generally takes on a style that sounds similar to Herbie Hancock's earlier work (before the funk), but there are also aspects of many other artists in his work, including Bill Evans. He holds a position as the head of Jazz Studies at the University of Washington, where he teaches both jazz history and playing instruction.
Known for his innovative spirit and broad musical scope, Thomas continues to perform on the stages of the world's greatest jazz clubs and concert halls, as a leader and alongside the top names in jazz. The Seattle native is featured on more than 100 recordings with musicians of all genres and styles. Thomas has produced albums for a number of artists including saxophonist Hadley Caliman and trumpeter Ray Vega. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and the Board of Directors of Earshot Jazz. Since his return to Seattle in 2004 he has been the featured trumpet soloist with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and has been a catalyst on the Seattle jazz scene.
A native Seattleite, he talks with a warm drawl that evokes sunny southern hospitality. In 2006 Lewis won the Earshot Jazz Golden Ear Award for Best Emerging Artist, and he won Outstanding Soloist awards each of the three years he performed with Roosevelt High School at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington competition in New York.
Evan Flory Barnes—Bass
Evan Flory-Barnes — bass player, composer, barista and "mayor of the U District" — envisions and lives the creation of a community of musicians and other artists brought together by excitement, collaboration, and a spirit of well-being, known as New Seattle. Evan is known for his buoyant swing, cold grooves, blistering solos and inventive bow playing.