Many years before her emergence in the contemporary jazz and R&B worlds as the Singing Saxstress™, Ava Lemert remembers the unique approach her father took to encouraging her musical dreams—and helping her get into her first jazz band in high school.
A mechanics instructor at L.A. Trade Technical Collect (LATTC) who taught in the Yamaha Motorcycle program, Ava’s father bartered his instructor wages so that Ava could have a shiny new YAS 23 alto for her very first saxophone, straight off the dock from Japan in Long Beach. Further developing her musical skills, she became the first female drum major at South Hills High in her hometown of Covina, California leading the band in parades and rehearsals, while performing on clarinet in concert band and alto sax in Jazz Band. Though she pursued other creative endeavors (including graphic design) for a time after she graduated from USC, Ava returned to her first love, music, in the mid-2000s when she learned that Citrus Heights was starting up a community marching band. She found her old YAS 23 and joined up. From 2006-2008, she drew upon her sax and vocal talents to perform alternately with three regional ensembles: the On Air Band, a Tower of Power-styled 13-piece cover group; the 60 piece Capitol Pops Orchestra (which featured horns, woodwinds and a harpist) and Moonlight Swing, a Glen Miller WWII Tribute Band. Ava then began scoring numerous art gallery gigs, singing and playing her horn to backing tracks. While dealing with her mother’s illness and ultimately her passing, she also made a key connection through contacts with the radio station KSSJ in Sacramento to play shows at local retirement communities. This diverse array of live performances ultimately inspired her to start writing and recording her own music and start her recording career.
The multi-talented performer’s powerful and versatile saxophone and vocal skills have earned her nonstop accolades and a tremendously loyal fan base as an indie artist and live performer since she did her first solo gig in 2008. Launching her recording career with her full length debut From My Soul in 2009, Ava has since released more than 30 digital singles, in addition to her 2012 full length set 12welve (which, not coincidentally, has 12 cuts), which features the Neil Sedaka penned “Working On A Groovy Thing,” produced by Roger Smith, longtime keyboardist for the legendary horn band Tower of Power. Ava’s EP “suggestions” quickly followed as an all-original mixtape of moods for lovers, including her retro homage to the late great, Curtis Mayfield and the very danceable “TSOP Style,” which has gotten airplay on a wide variety of independent and internet radio stations across the planet. There are no explicit lyrics on the EP, simply “suggestions” as Ava states with a wink. In the Spring of 2013, Ava released a special EP of requested cover songs, Ava L Soul, which features a unique reversal of roles on “Me and Mr. Jones,” Sade’s “Your Love Is King,” “If I Can’t Have You” and “Ooh Baby Baby.”
To commemorate her birthday on July 19, 2015, Ava released her fifth collection, the full length “Diamond in the Dirt” which has 12 originals (including a vocal penned entirely in Spanish), several breezy, beautiful instrumentals as well as 3 more cover songs, an original arrangement of “Breezin'” and “A Theme From a Summer Place” called “Breezin’-Summer Place Medley,” the Eagles country-rock classic featuring Ava’s vocal range and lush harmonies on “The Best of My Love” and another harmony spectacular that includes Ava’s smooth soulful tenor saxophone, Malo’s Latin Soul Classic “Suavecito.” The release party was at David Girard Vineyards, July 18th and Ava has several shows remaining in the 2015 season to help promote the album. The album will be in limited physical release and is available for download on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. Ava has also signed on to release the album with TIDAL, a premiere High Fidelity streaming service, the same exclusive service chosen by Prince to release his latest album “HitNRun” on.
Ava calls Citrus Heights (near Sacramento), California her home, however —she has shown contemporary urban jazz audiences in Southern California why she’s been nicknamed “Tiny Dynamite” with several electrifying performances in recent years. In October, 2012, she made her debut (twice!) at the 26th Annual Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival, performing as both a saxophonist and vocalist for keyboardist Brian O’Neal and as a special guest of famed guitarist Peter White during his encore funk medley. Her sold out solo debut performance at the Orange County hotspot Spaghettini Grill in July, 2013 and is planning to return to the San Diego area in the summer of 2016 and has been accepted into NARAS, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Awards), San Francisco Chapter, as a full voting member.
“Whether I am recording an album in the studio or performing for a live audience, I love to create and move people emotionally,” says Ava. “Every song I play is very personal to me, and whenever possible I love to take the opportunity to share a little of the story behind it before I play. As exciting as it is to be onstage, I also love taking my sax into the audience and feeling closer to those I am playing for. Being able to make eye contact and know that you’ve touched people’s hearts and lives is truly gratifying, and I am grateful for every opportunity to connect with people in this way.’
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