In the Faculty:
In 2003 Anna-Lisa moved to Winnipeg with her family after her husband Steve Kirby accepted the post of Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Manitoba. She has since taken on the position as Jazz Vocal Instructor and Jazz Department Coordinator.
The Hang, held weekly on Wednesdays at The Orbit Room (4-2077 Pembina Hwy) has become a Jazz institution in Winnipeg. Taking its cue from many jam sessions in New York, "The Hang" is a place where students, faculty, seasoned professionals, and visiting artists can hone their skills and exchange ideas in a live performance setting. Anna-Lisa, along with Steve Kirby, was instrumental in creating The Hang for the Winnipeg Jazz scene. A University Jazz Department cannot exist in a vacuum, it needs a thriving Jazz scene in which the students can grow and learn!
Anna-Lisa was born in Toronto and moved to Calgary with her family at age 11. At age 5 she began classical piano, at age 12 she began acting in plays both in and outside of school. This soon branched out into singing as well. At about age 16, Anna-Lisa experienced the sound of Ella Fitzgerald and so began her journey into Jazz!
Her first ever-professional Jazz gig was in Calgary in 1987 at Cafe Calabash. The piano player of the trio took her under his wing, taught her lots of Jazz standard repertoire and rehearsed her weekly. Anna-Lisa moved to New York City in the fall of 1990 to attend The Neighbourhood Playhouse Theatre School. After completing one year, she entered the prestigious Manhattan Faculty of Music to pursue her degree in Jazz Performance.
It was in the Jazz clubs of New York that Anna-Lisa received another kind of education. There are endless Jam sessions and performance oppurtunities in New York, and learning on the bandstand is what put it all together for her. Anna-Lisa was a regular fixture at such legendary hangs as: Augie's, Cleo's Needle, Smalls, The Iridium, Dean Street Cafe and Bradley's.
From 1994-2001 Anna-Lisa performed with her own ensemble at such New York venues as: Metronome, Sign Of The Dove, Cleopatra's Needle, Match, The Soul Cafe and The Jazz Standard. She has also been fortunate enough to have made appearances at the famous clubs: The Village Vanguard, Sweet Basil, The Iridium, Smalls and The Zinc Bar.
Internationally, Anna-Lisa has toured parts of Italy, Denmark, Slovakia, and Turkey. On these trips she had the oppurtunity to perform with some very talented musicians. Some of these include Italian pianist Antonio Ciacca, Slovakia's favorite drummer Dodo Sosoka. Anna-Lisa performed at the oldest Jazz club in Denmark: JazzBar Bent J. in Arhus, with one of the country's foremost rhythm sections, pianist Carsten Dahl, bassist Mads Vinding and drummer Alex Riel.
Anna-Lisa was the featured vocalist with the swing band: Andy Farber is and His Swing Mavens. The Mavens performed at such famous New York venues as: Swing 46, Windows on The World, Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night's Swing, Makor, Irving Plaza and Pier 25. She was featured on their 2001 release entitled Bluesectomy.
The line notes of Bluesectomy were written by legendary Jazz vocal artist Jon Hendricks. He says about Anna-Lisa: "Anna-Lisa, female vocalist with the aggravation - er, aggregation - is up next with a quite nice interpretation of the standard, Sometimes I'm Happy in which she executes effortlessly every singers nightmare, a no-bar modulation, into a well improvised and interpreted second chorus."
1999 marked the release of Anna-Lisa's first solo recording venture, Shades of Blue, which was one of the first four releases on the NJR (New Jazz Renaissance) Recording label. Shades of Blue features a stellar rhythm section, including: Xavier Davis on piano, Steve Kirby on bass, and Alvester Garnett on drums.
In 1996, Anna-Lisa performed and recorded with pianist and Atlantic Records recording artist Cyrus Chestnut. Bassist Steve Kirby, drummer Alvester Garnett, and alto-player Myron Walden are also featured on her recording entitled Pretty Blue.
On March 22, 2012 Anna-Lisa hosted an evening of jazz with her students - past and present!