Small Day Tomorrow
T.J.'s infectious style and remarkably natural stage presence might come as a surprise to those who only know her as Dr. Graham. Currently a professor of Teacher Education in a local institution of higher education, T.J. has been a leader in the Midsouth education system for several years. Although she loves her status as an educator, she says that she feels most comfortable on stage, especially when she is performing with master musicians such as those local and nationally recognized musicians playing on the 'Small Day Tomorrow' project, which includes traditional jazz swing, ballads, and Latin songs. For this brilliant album, producer John Lightman has assembled some of the finest musicians in the world to support and showcase T.J.'s sensual voice. Many of the songs on this CD were not so well known jazz tunes such as the stunning title ballad. Graham's and Lightman's musical partnership has produced a debut album which is certain to become a future classic. Born in Buffalo, New York, T.J. Graham knew early in her life that jazz was her true passion. Growing up in an era when pop sounds of musicians such as Michael Jackson, the Commodores, Jeffrey Osborne, etc. Were all the rage among her peers, T.J. found herself drawn to such jazz greats as Betty Carter, Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Al Jarreau, Mel Torme, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartman and Nat 'King' Cole. While T.J. cites these and other jazz greats as her major influences, she credits Ella Fitzgerald (her mother's favorite jazz vocalist) as being her initial inspiration. T.J. has performed and/or sat in with many of Memphis' most notable jazz artists such as, Gene Rush, Donald Brown, Rene Koopman, Herman Green, Calvin Newborn, Joyce Cobb, Renardo Ward, John Lightman, Barry Johnson, Dom Fosco, Chris Ward, Mark 'Dr. Scat' Weiss, Carl Wolfe, Charlton Johnson, Billy Gibson, the late James Austin (of the Platters), Irving Evans, the VA Swing Big Band and the Bill Jordan Big Band, to mention a few. She has also had the opportunity to study with nationally recognized jazz vocal greats Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton. T.J. is most proud of the fact that she has acquired a wealth of musical knowledge from her music teacher, Irving Evans (pianist), whom she fondly refers to as "The Maestro." She feels that studying with "Maestro" Evans has elevated her to a higher level of musicianship. Beginning in the summer of 2003, upon her return from the Vermont Summer Jazz Workshop where she studied with Ms. Jordan and Ms. Clayton, she began performing regularly on Friday and Saturday nights with Evans. If you were at one of T.J.'s live performances, you would at once be drawn to her magnetic and infectious style. Her elegant manner of delivering a song makes her a favorite among jazz vocalists. Those on the receiving end of T.J.'s performances are never disappointed; they are always in for a real treat, because she never fails to draw them in, making them as much a part of the show as possible. Able to perform tunes from various musical genres as well as having a vast repertoire of jazz standards, T.J. is able to take requests and to deliver almost always. She has adopted the motto of her mentor, Irving Evans, "Always play pretty for the people" and she always does just that! T.J. is definitely a songstress who will make lovers of female jazz vocalists sit up and take notice. She reminds listeners of all that was authentic, sultry, sensual, and sincere in the music of such jazz greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Julie London, Carmen McCrae, Billie Holiday, Anita O'Day, Nancy Wilson, June Christie, Betty Carter, etc. She is definitely one to watch on the jazz scene!