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5 DAY CHALLENGE- Singing Jazz Made Easy


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Judy Rafat

Judy Rafat , former student and protégé of the great bebop world star Dizzy Gillespieis undoubtedly one of the best jazz singers of our time. Like Diana Krall, Judy Rafat was born in Canada and was influenced by the breathtaking natural beauty of her homeland and inspired to create her authentic style. With the dark timbre of her soft, multi-faceted voice, she touches the hearts of her audiences worldwide. Her fans are always amazed at her enormous vocal range of three octaves as well as her outstanding modulation ability. Dizzy Gillespie said to Judy Rafat: “… you have a great voice and you don´t sound like anybody else!”. In addition to the standards, it offers the enthusiastic listener a colorful fireworks display of bossa nova, swing, latin, blues and of course bebop.

Judy Rafat grew up in a musical family and, after studying music at the University of Western Ontario with a degree in singing and flute, settled in Germany after an extensive European tour. Judy Rafat received a lot of attention and gratitude in all media for her social commitment as a successful folk singer.

The year 1986 marked the turning point in her career and she discovered her preference for a very special style of music, jazz. This fascination is triggered by an unforgettable encounter for Judy Rafat with one of the greatest and most important jazz musicians of all time, Dizzy Gillespie. At his side, Charly Parker was a co-inventor of bebop and thus set the stage for a revolution in music history. Judy Rafat and Dizzy Gillespie became close friends with a kind of soulmate. In 1993, Dizzy Gillespie died, initially the plan to record a CD with his unforgettable compositions.

The fruitful collaboration with Dizzy Gillespie began in 1989 when Judy Rafat and her own quintet were hired to support Dizzy Gillespie with her own quintet and she then accompanied him to Prague and Moscow. This was followed by tours through Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Lithuania, Italy, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland.

In 1994 she began teaching as a lecturer for “jazz singing” at the Mercator University in Duisburg. A little later, Judy Rafat also taught the enthusiastic students at the University of Essen the fine art of jazz singing.

Then in 1996 the public listened again when Judy Rafat was on stage with the Dave Brubeck Quintet. The breakthrough was made. All over the world there was now a race for the likeable artist, who not only offered a varied show with her voice but also touched people's hearts with her inimitable, authentic manner. In many reviews she was described as very strong in improvisation and passionate, downright obsessed with a voice that made her a dominant instrument within a band.

In 1997 , one month after Judy Rafat sang at the Memorial Concert in Englewood at the invitation of Jon Faddis on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Dizzy Gillespie, the dream of a CD with compositions by Dizzy Gillespie came true. Judy Rafat says: “… during recording it was obvious to all, that the spirit of Dizzy was with us in the studio…” The tribute CD with the title “CON ALMA” on which she composed without exception - some with her own texts - by Dizzy Gillespie sings and impressively demonstrates her exceptional talent, she has dedicated her to her friend and mentor.

The list of musicians who are responsible for the success of their work reads like the “who is who” of the jazz world: Kenny Barron, Frank Wess, Rufus Reid, Ignacio Berroa, Claudio Roditi, Mike Longo, Paquito d´Rivera and John Lee. In the notes to the CD Slide Hampton wrote: “Here is a true voice coming straight from the heart ... the compositions of Dizzy Gillespie require a high quality of singing. Judy has passed it with excellent intonation and phrasing. What a range, what a precision! She really sounds like an instrument. She sings of a theme close to her heart - love and support of oppressed people because of prejudice of skin color or nationality. "

The breakthrough was made. Judy Rafat now sang in the best hotels in the world and delighted the discerning and intellectual audience. Particularly noteworthy are her stays in China in 1999 and 2000 , where she shone for 6 months at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Shanghai - with Wynton Marsalis, among others - and then at the leading jazz club “The Big Easy” in Beijing. Also in 1999, the German Ministry of the Environment, headed by Bärbel Höhn, approached Judy Rafat with the request to produce a CD for women and Agenda 21. She complied with the request and contributed to the title song “Women of the World” and other original compositions. This CD also received a lot of attention.

Since 2000 Judy Rafat has dedicated herself to educational work. She founded her own “School of Vocal Music”, where she can pursue her heart's desire with great devotion: what she has learned to pass on to her apprentices.

The very fruitful work with Thomas Rückert began in 2001 and developed into an intense, musical experience. Likewise the founding of her quintet (2003) with Olaf Polziehn (piano), Henning Gailing (bass), Hendrik Smock (drums) and Lothar van Staa (saxophone). With this team, their album "Pure Inspiration" was created in 2005, followed by numerous appearances all over Europe. In the same year Judy Rafat started her teaching program at the Folkwang Music School in Essen.

She earned a lot of recognition in 2006 during her “A Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie” tour. Judy Rafat is the only jazz singer in the world with a program specifically dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie. In the same year she performed for six months in front of an international audience at the Shangrila Hotel (Singapore) and at the local jazz club Southbridge.

Dizzy Gillespie with trumpet
Judy Rafat & Wynton Marsalis
Dave Brubeck
Judy Rafat, live Harmonie Bonn 2005

John Smith


Highly Recommended Course. Easy to Understand, Informative, Very Well Organized. The Course is Full of Practical and Valuable for Anyone who wants to Enhance their Skills. Really Enjoyed it. Thank you!!

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