Jenna Mammina – Under the Influence

Under the Influence of
Jenna Mammina
by S. H. Watkins, Sr.

We had been at IAJE for a couple of days now. It was evening and I was deciding what to do with the rest of the day. Mark said he had an invitation to meet with someone named Jenna Mammina at the other hotel, in a suite. I tagged along and got a pleasant surprise. When we got to the suite, a nice lady greeted us, took our coats and served us drinks. There were 8-9 people in the room, one of whom I recognized as guitarist Andre Bush.

Jenna Mammina - Under the InfluenceThe others were introduced as Jenna, her sister, mother and brother, along with three or four other journalists and visitors like ourselves. After 10-15 minutes of small talk snacks, Bush took up a guitar, Jenna sat down picked up a mike and began to sing in one of the loveliest new voices I’ve heard in a long time. She sang three songs and I was absolutely bowled over! Influenced by Abbey Lincoln, Jenna’s singing is always in control, ranging from the innocent-little-girl to the sultry-seductress, and she manages to pull it off with a touch of personality to boot!

Based out of the San Francisco area, Mama Grace records is named for Jenna’s mother, Grace. Her brother and sister handle the business end and Jenna carries the voice. A real family affair. Last year, Jenna was one of the acts at the prestigious Mt. Hood Jazz festival in my own Portland, Oregon, and is scheduled to appear again this year (If I had not been in Chicago that weekend, I would have HEARD her sooner).

Jenna Mammina - Just a Little BitWhile we were there, Jenna gave us a copy of the as-yet-unreleased Just a Little Bit. Like the first CD (Under the Influence), it is very mellow. The music is well played and compliments Jenna’s powerful, yet cute, vocals very well. The interplay between Jenna’s vocals and Andre Bush’s guitar stylings is elegant; it is apparent that they enjoy playing together. Her songs are well chosen to show off her strengths, and it is a joy to watch her perform. Don’t you miss the opportunity to hear her sing, clips from her album Under the Influence are available at the Jenna Mammina’s web site.