JUNO nominee Melody Diachun is an ideal jazz singer for the 21st century. She has a very appealing and friendly voice, a subtle but exciting improvising style, and is open to the influences of current pop and R&B music. The singer’s brand of groove-jazz is both creative and accessible, appealing to a wide audience while being joyfully unpredictable.
Melody’s new recording, the June 2018 release Get Back to the Groove, showcases her as a soulful, sassy, and playful artist who is at home in the jazz world as well as with blues and R&B. The production reflects Melody's love of funk and neo-soul while letting her warm, versatile, voice shine.
The Get Back to the Groove EP is Melody’s fourth recording as leader and third self-released album produced and mixed by guitarist-bassist, co-writer, and Melody’s husband, Doug Stephenson. The Get Back to the Groove Tour 2018 simultaneously marks both the release of the new EP and the launch of their new label, Third Beach Records, named after the Vancouver spot where the two were married.
Melody and Doug are celebrating two decades of writing, recording, and performing music together, and over the last six years, they have developed a cohesive sound and camaraderie of a true band with the musicians heard on the EP: Clinton Swanson on saxes and flute, Mark Spielman on electric bass, and Tony Ferraro on drums. The recording is augmented by long-time collaborators Chris Andrew on keys and Chris Gestrin on Hammond B3, and by young Montreal singer Andrew Matthews on background vocals.
Melody’s debut album Lullaby Of The Leaves is an intimate trio set with the late pianist Bob Murphy and Doug Stephenson on acoustic bass. “Lullaby Of The Leaves was made right after 9/11. I wanted the music to be quiet and soothing which is what the world needed at the time.” Lullaby Of The Leaves finds Melody sounding warm, quietly swinging, and often sensual on seven standards and four memorable originals.
2006’s Dreams & Places finds her opening up her music to the influences of pop and R&B while leaving space for concise improvisations. The music ranges from “Lazy Afternoon” to pop covers and originals, all given treatments that are colourful and lively.
Melody’s third album, EQ on Cory Weeds ’Cellar Live label, features her performing both new material and superior pop songs by Paul Simon, Radiohead, Joni Mitchell and D’Angelo with a freewheeling jazz quartet comprised of Cory Weeds on soprano, electric pianist Tilden Webb, drummer Dan Gaucher and bassist-guitarist Doug Stephenson. The critically acclaimed album features versatile and joyful singing, blazing solos, and fresh arrangements. EQ has more extensive solos and covers many moods. Melody's inviting and expressive voice is heard at its best on the diverse but consistently satisfying material.
Melody also had an important role on Truth be Told by kris (a.k.a. Chris Andrew) and Altered Laws’ award-winning album, Metaphora.
Born in Montreal and raised in Nova Scotia, Melody Diachun remembers her introduction to music. “My father played piano and sang. I performed with him when I was really young, singing at my first concert when I was seven. I was lucky in that my godfather, the great Don Hahn, was a recording engineer for A&M Records. He sent us copies of many recordings, everything from the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and Chick Corea to Karen Carpenter. I got to hear a pretty eclectic variety of music and I did not separate genres; it all interested me and still does.” Melody had piano lessons, sang with older performers in a variety show when she was 15, and played bass in her high school jazz band. “I was always very attracted to the harmonies, chord changes and extensions of jazz”.
At McGill University in Montreal, she started out as a French hornist in the classical department since the school did not have a vocal jazz program. Melody had the opportunity to sing with the school’s jazz combos where she enjoyed being treated as a fellow instrumentalist, eventually becoming the first vocalist admitted to McGill University’s Jazz Performance program. After graduating, she was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to study privately with the great Sheila Jordan in New York City. Living in Brooklyn, she gained important experience, performing at many jam sessions and in clubs. After moving back to Montreal, Melody worked for three years in Banff, Alberta singing seven nights a week, learning a countless number of songs.
In 2000, Melody moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. She has been an important part of the BC music scene ever since, both as a performer and an educator. A member of the music faculty at Nelson's Selkirk College since 2012, she is the advisor of the Contemporary Music & Technology Program and teaches ensembles, singing, and songwriting.
Melody Diachun was nominated for a JUNO and in 2009 for Canada’s National Jazz Awards as “Female Vocalist of the Year”. An increasingly significant jazz singer with her own sound, style and approach to creating new music, Melody Diachun is just getting started.
Melody Diachun: Get Back to the Groove
Toronto Music Report: By Raul da Gama - July 12, 2018
This short programme by the Québec-born, British Colombia-based vocalist Melody Diachun is a timely reminder that while she may not record as frequently as other young musicians she is – and will always be – a force to reckon with in contemporary vocal music. On the sultry, bluesy music of Get Back to the Groove Miss Diachun lays out the case for her formidable and alluring talent in just five short songs. Of course it does not take five songs to catch on to Miss Diachun’s remarkable flair, it takes just a few bars on the cheeky opening number “Sharp Dressed Man”. The momentum, clarity and allure of her voice flows right into the witty narrative of that song and from there onto “That’s What Delete is For”, another song that Miss Diachun unfolds with a blend of saucy humour and grace in her stylish turn of phrase.
Although short on time (it’s an extended-play after all) Get Back to the Groove is a sparkling, action-packed affair, the repertoire performed by Miss Diachun and her band in a seamlessly controlled fashion. The disc has all the elements that assure it of success: astonishingly fine instrumentalism from all of the players – somehow Doug Stephenson’s hot guitar licks and Clinton Swanson’s dramatic saxophone soli make a combustive impression – and then there is also the element of risky exuberance on the part of Miss Diachun, who adds that element to all of the other ones in her already impressive musical armoury. All of this makes one yearn for more from this rather fine vocalist and musician.
Tracklist – 1: Sharp Dressed Man; 2: That’s What Delete is For; 3: Eleanor Rigby; 4: High Definition Love; 5: Get Back to the Groove
Personnel – Melody Diachun: lead vocals, background vocals and percussion; Andrew Matthews: background vocals; Clinton Swanson: tenor saxophone; Chris Gestrin: Hammond B3 organ; Chris Andrew: keys; Doug Stephenson: guitar, bass and keyboards; Mark Spielman: bass; Tony Ferraro: drums
NOMINEE: Kootenay Music Awards “Best Blues Song” & “Artist of The Year”, 2018
NOMINEE: National Jazz Awards “Female Vocalist of the Year”, 2009
WINNER: Western Canadian Music Awards’ "Outstanding Jazz Recording of The Year”, Altered Laws “Metaphora”, 2008
NOMINEE: JUNO “Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year,” Altered Laws “Metaphora”, 2008
RECIPIENT: RAWLCO 10K20 Project Recording Grant recipient, 2006
RECIPIENT: Canada Council for the Arts Short Term Grant, 1994
“Original material that catches the ear… Diachun has a warm, accomplished voice which shows a formidable range…”
— Marke Andrews, The Vancouver Sun