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Photo by Christian Kuntz Photography.

Whitehorse vocalist Fawn Fritzen releases perfect pairings of jazz musicians

By Gloria Song on May 6, 2016

The concept of pairing is usually applied to food and drink categories, such as the classic matching of Roquefort cheese with a Sauternes wine. Yukon jazz musician Fawn Fritzen has taken an innovative approach to this concept of pairing with her new album Pairings. For each song on the album, Fawn pairs her voice with a carefully selected single musical instrument, such as piano, a classical nylon string guitar, saxophone, drums, or acoustic bass. The result is twelve charming tracks, with the minimalist arrangements highlighting Fawn’s adaptive approach to each pairing, wandering from a variety of styles within the broad genre of jazz.

Whitehorse is a musician’s dream!

Pairings_333x333Music fans in southern Canada may not expect to hear this style of music from the Yukon, but Fawn is enthusiastic about the northern music scene. “Whitehorse is a musician’s dream!” she explained to me over email. “An artist’s dream, really. We have a disproportionate number of artists of all types. It’s a thriving and nurturing community that is willing to be generous to build up newcomers. Specifically, we have some innovative organizations like Yukon Women in Music, which creates opportunities to emerging artists to perform alongside experienced musicians, and Jazz Yukon, whose educational efforts have created a vibrant and educated audience of jazz enthusiasts.”

Fawn herself is a fascinating woman. Besides performing as a musician, she is a mother of two and an advocate of epilepsy awareness, as her oldest daughter deals with severe seizures.   She openly embraces and celebrates her multi-cultural Chinese, French and German roots, singing in French on “La tete dans la lune” and in German on “Tea for Two”. German may seem like an unusual language to sing jazz, but Fawn manages to make it work with her soothing voice.

The process for producing Pairings is indicative of the hard working attitude that Fawn takes with her music, and her popularity among jazz music lovers. After recording a few initial tracks, she decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of raising $16,000 for the album, which she admitted was ambitious, but she luckily has been able to raise most of this amount through the support of her fans.

“It turned out to be an amazingly gratifying experience,” she said. “I couldn’t have made the CD without those funds – but it was also satisfying as an artist because I was buoyed by my supporters’ enthusiasm and excitement. On top of that, people were genuinely interested in the process of creating an album, and it was exciting for me to invite them into the process of making it with me. That makes this album a community effort, and I’m deeply grateful for that.”

On Wednesday May 11, just in time for Asian Heritage Month, Fawn brings her new album to Ottawa. She once lived in Ottawa from 1996 to 2002, when she attended Carleton University, worked as page at the House of Commons, and performed as a member of Sock ‘N’ Buskin Theatre Company and Orpheus. She looks forward to her return. “I still have lots of friends and family here,” she commented, “not to mention some great memories, so I’m tied to it in my heart.”

Fawn Fritzen will be performing at the Steinway Piano Gallery (1481A Innes Road) with David Restivo on piano, George Koller on bass, and special guest Peter Liu on Wednesday May 11, 2016 at 7:30PM. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.