Jo Lawry’s debut album, I Want to Be Happy, was named one of the “Best CDs of the Decade” by Downbeat Magazine, but she has become known beyond jazz circles for her work with Sting, with whom she has toured and recorded since 2009, and more recently with Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel. For this performance at PIJF, Jo is joined by Sam Anning (bass) and Ben Vanderwal (drums) to celebrate Jo’s latest trio album, “Acrobats.” The Sydney Morning Herald calls the album “a gem tossed high in the air, flashing and sparkling – and somehow never falling”
Jo Lawry grew up on an almond farm in South Australia and, after a brief flirtation with operatic study, began her formal instruction in jazz. Her debut album as a leader, I Want to Be Happy, was named one of the “Best CDs of the Decade” by Downbeat Magazine. She has been featured as a guest on numerous modern jazz recordings; stand-outs include Dr. Lonnie Smith’s album Rise Up! and Kate McGarry’s Grammy-nominated If Less is More… Nothing is Everything. She is also the vocalist for the Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra, a quartet whose album, Live at Jazz Standard was released on Sunnyside Records.
In 2013, Jo was featured in the film 20 Feet From Stardom, which chronicled the lives and careers of “the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century” and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
During the 17 years Jo lived in New York, she also led her own band, and released an album of originals, Taking Pictures, in March 2015, to critical acclaim. The follow-up, The Bathtub and the Sea was released in 2018. She has taught at New England Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music and has worked extensively with Carnegie Hall as a featured artist in their ‘Musical Connections’ program. Jo currently leads the Equity in Jazz program at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, a program designed to encourage and support women and gender diverse musicians into a career in jazz through dedicated leadership, music development and mentorship.
Jo’s most recent album, “Acrobats,” tackles the trio format, featuring Linda May Han Oh on acoustic bass and Allison Miller on drums. The ‘chordless’ album has been called “precise and daring” by All About Jazz.