Marguerite Juenemann: An Enlightening Local Gem

19 Dec, 2016

Marguerite Juenemann is much more than a Jazz singer. A dynamic performer, she can captivate an audience with her expressive solos. An experienced musician, she knows when and how to use her voice as an instrument within a group. Vocalist, lyricist and arranger, she is an emerging artist destined to leave her mark on the Jazz world.

Marguerite left New York in 1988 after being offered an Artist-in Residence at the University of Maine in Augusta where she taught and directed the Vocal Jazz program until 1997. This position has opened up other venues for her talents: conducting a vocal octet symphonic requiem for Viet Nam M.I.A/K.I.A at the Performing Arts Center in Bangor , Maine traveling throughout New England conducting clinics for high school and college students as well as Music Educators. Marguerite has also been a guest conductor for the New Hampshire All-State High School Honors Choirs and an adjudicator for the same. Concerts resulting from these endeavors include a performance with Jazz great Clark Terry.

Careful readers will recognize Marguerite’s name from the 1983 Rare Silk, “New Weave” album, (Polygram). Attentive listeners will identify her rich contralto as that extra “something” in Rare Silk’s vocal blend on that Grammy-nominated debut album. Marguerite was a founding member of the Boulder, Colorado-based group, originally a female trio who began singing together in 1978. The first milestone of their career was a 1980 series of concerts with the legendary Benny Goodman. Rare Silk sang with the King of Swing in such prestigious settings as Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, and the Aurex Jazz Festival in Japan.

National Public Radio broadcast the Boston concert nationwide, and the Goodman sets at the Aurex Festival became Rare Silk’s first performance on disc, part of the Japanese import series, The Aurex Jazz Festival. On their own, Rare Silk toured Korea, the Philippines and the South Pacific, and gained national television exposure with an appearance on theMery Griffin Show. Three years and many professional endorsements after their separation from Goodman, Rare Silk, now a mixed quartet, released “New Weave”. A subsequent performance at Duke’s Place in New Orleans became the subject of an hour-long television production for PBS. That program, nationally released November 2, 1984, features Marguerite as a soloist on her own arrangement of Miles Davis’ Classic, “All Blues”.

An enthusiastic experimenter in Bebop, she has written original lyrics to instrumental classics such as Davis’ “So What” and a vocalese rendition of Wes Montgomery’s guitar solo on “Whisper Not” by Benny Golson. Her offbeat 7/8 arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisia” can set musicians and audiences alike on the edge of their seats.

Such talent should not go unnoticed, and in Marguerite’s case, it hasn’t. As a member of Rare Silk, she was often identified in the press as the group’s lead singer. John S. Wilson of the New York Times made a special note of her “strong solo personality”. In The Denver Post, Alan Katz describes her as..” a dominant presence with an individualistic, gutsy, experimental singing style”. Denver TV newswoman Janet Zappala profiled Marguerite as a solo artist, concluding that she is not just a singer, but “a Jazz musician who sings.”

The label fits, A multi-instrumentalist in high school, Marguerite was a singer/musician/ arranger in three other groups and a session artist on three albums before forming Rare Silk. Eventually she focused her energies on one instrument–her voice. As a vocalist, she has performed with well-known Colorado artists Spike Robinson, Johnny Smith, Paul Warburton, Rich Chiaraluce, Eric Gunnison, Ron Miles, Art Lande , Gus Johnson, the list continues. Before leaving Rare Silk, Marguerite formed her own trio and secured a regular gig at one of Denver’s most popular jazz clubs. She was also a featured soloist in a concert of Thelonius Monk’s music at Naropa institute in Boulder.

As might be expected, Marguerite’s fellow musicians are also appreciative of her exceptional skills and talent. Jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker calls her “a great competitor”. Kellis Ethridge, guitarist, recording artist and Marguerite’s collaborator for a year after her departure from Rare Silk, says this about her: “Marguerite is a musician. She understands things melodically, harmonically and rhythmically that most singers just don’t pick up. Her scat is almost like working with a horn player.”

1994 brought the release of her first CD, “By Whose Standards”, followed by a duo performance with the legendary bassist Richard Davis. In June 2001, a second CD, “NightWind, In The spirit of Fats Waller” features Marguerite in a duo setting with World renowned pianist, Art Lande.

As a continuing educator, Marguerite went to Europe as a guest vocal clinician in Leeds, England, Krakow, Poland and Graz, Austria. While in Graz, Marguerite had the good fortune of sharing the stage at three of her concerts with Mark Murphy, Downbeat poll winner, 1997, before heading back to London for one final concert. 1998 found Marguerite teaching part of the year in Graz, also Lamont School of Music in Denver and Naropa University in Boulder. March through May, 2000, she was a guest professor at New England Conservatory of Music. The list of private students continues to grow as Marguerite continues to teach and perform, encouraging young music students as they find their own musical “voice.”

Now truly a solo artist, Marguerite brings to her listeners and to her musical peers a background of rich experience, and uncompromising commitment to quality, and a unique approach that sets her apart as a vocal instrumentalist. She says, ” I want the music to reach a wide audience, that entertains but also challenges people to hear the human voice as a musical instrument, rather than only as a vehicle for melody and lyrics.” Her past record gives every reason to expect that she will continue to achieve her professional goals.

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