Biography

"...A sultry contralto loaded with inflections reminiscent of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Mahalia Jackson-yet very much her own...one of our very best singers."
Phil Elwood, San Francisco Music critic

"The standout at New York's cabaret convention"
Town & Country magazine

" Maye Cavallaro's appearance doesn't prepare you for her voice. Her svelte figure, closely cropped red hair, and delicate features give little hint of the sultry and sonorous contralto you hear when she starts to sing. She handles her voice with the dynamic control, perfect intonation and soul reaching resonance of a fine cellist."
Sherman Spencer, The Record


Exceptionally sophisticated and emotional vocalist Maye Cavallaro has been singing classic songs since she discovered her Mother's "Sing Along with Mitch" records at age 6. By the age of nine she began borrowing from her brother's collection of vintage blues, at 10 she began studying piano, and by 12 was a huge fan of Carmen McRae, Billie Holiday, Esther Phillips and Miriam Makeba. Her eclectic and wide ranging musical tastes have continued to encompass jazz, modern pop and rock as well as classical and world music.

Maye's first CD on Redhead Records, In the Middle of a Kiss, was chosen by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the top ten jazz records of 1995. It featured piano, bass and   vocals, with the addition of clarinet. Her second CD, Never Let Me Go, featured a larger band with the addition of fluegel horn, saxophone, percussion and guitar, as well as the trio. For her third CD Hearts , Maye wanted a spare, modern and highly rhythmic sound. She chose jazz guitarist Mimi Fox, reed player Paul McCandless and multi-percussionist Ian Dogole as collaborators. Says Maye, "With the world getting more noisy and so many sounds vying for our attention, I wanted to hear my voice with just a few other elements, and to hear each voice in the band distinctly and separately. We started with a backdrop of quiet and quiet remains a prominent part of the sound." Hearts features songs in a variety of genres and moods, and range from the funky and bluesy Save Your Love For Me, to the lilting and romantic Till There Was You , to the latin-tinged pop tune Hearts. There are four Duke Ellington compositions. "I chose each song because I loved it," says Maye, "without regard to when it was written or what genre it came from." Each song was arranged singly and features different instrumentation. Mimi Fox plays 6 different guitars including a custom-made baritone electric, Paul McCandless appears on English horn as well as soprano saxophone, and Ian Dogole plays Udu, shakers, and African talking drum.

A warm, charismatic stage performer and accomplished musician, Maye has traveled extensively in Japan and the U.S., both performing and teaching.   She has appeared in the San Francisco Bay Area extensively at clubs such as Yoshi's, The Great American Music Hall, The Plush Room, Sweetwater and Kimball's, among others. For 5 years Maye performed weekly at the Compass Rose in the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco with her trio. She's appeared in New York City at Eighty-Eights and in the Cabaret Convention at Town Hall. Maye is on the faculty of the innovative Jazzschool in Berkeley, CA., teaching stagecraft and jazz singing and on the faculty for Jazz studies at University of California, Berkeley.

 

 

2011 Maye Cavallaro. All rights reserved.