With a Twist (Okeh)

Bria Skonberg

Released May 2017

Juno Award Nominee Vocal Jazz Album of the Year 2018






The euphoric buzz of New York, over cocktails on the edge of evening, alive with possibilities…anything goes. Vocalist, trumpeter and songwriter Bria Skonberg re-imagines it all on her new OKeh/Masterworks album, With a Twist. Coming off a recent Juno Award (Canada’s version of The Grammys) for her first OKeh collection, Bria, Skonberg spins her cool and confident vocal style—and her sleek and timeless jazz chops—into a program that playfully nods to tradition while always looking ahead. 

Of the mood she was going after on With a Twist, Skonberg says: “The inspiration was love and adventure, and the many twists and turns and tunnels you can get into. It’s a little about my time in New York, a little bit of cocktail culture. The musical inspiration was a modern-day Esquivel, Perez Prado, maybe some Spike Jones. It’s just important to me to put some love and positivity out into the world right now.”

With a Twist reunites Skonberg with producer Matt Pierson, whom she credits with helping her realize the album’s concept. The album features 5-time Grammy winner Gil Goldstein (who arranged six of the tracks and plays keyboards and accordion), Sullivan Fortner (piano), Scott Colley (bass), Matt Wilson (drums).

More than romantic fantasy is casting the spell on With a Twist. Skonberg deftly pays tribute throughout the album to some great singers who influenced her. The opening track, “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” offers a deep bow to Nina Simone. “Alright, Okay, You Win” (arranged here with “Soul Bossa Nova” – a Quincy Jones tune) summons the cool of Peggy Lee. “It’s Oh So Quiet” is Björk’s memorable twist of a song Betty Hutton first sang in the early 1950s; Skonberg says she has loved it since hearing the Björk recording in her car as a high school student in Chilliwack, British Columbia.

Also included is “High Hat, Trumpet, and Rhythm,” a hot tune by Valaida Snow, the American jazz singer and trumpeter who became a worldwide sensation in the 1920s and 1930s. Fresh takes on “Cocktails for Two” (with a hint of Spike Jones’s antic style); “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees; and “Back in Your Own Back Yard” (a 1920s-vintage favorite of singers as diverse as Al Jolson and Billie Holiday) round out the golden-age standards.

Two more recent songs – Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” and an instrumental version of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” – show that Skonberg, for a seasoned jazz baby, has a way with the music of her time. The wistful reflection and melancholy of “Dance Me to the End of Love” offers her a chance to remember the late Cohen, a fellow Canadian.

Skonberg’s three originals on With a Twist represent a little odyssey of songwriting – “Same Kind of Crazy,” written in Nashville with Jeff Cohen, and “How I Know,” written in Los Angeles with Sam Hollander. Of the album’s final track, “Time to Go,” she says simply, “I made that one up, and I wanted it on the album.” Fun fact about “Time to Go”: “The little lick in the intro and outro belong to a song by Dizzy Gillespie called ‘Dizzy Atmosphere,'” Skonberg notes. “The sentiment of that song lines up with the theme of this album – and Dizzy would’ve been 100 this year!”

Hailed by The Wall Street Journal as one of the “most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation,” Bria Skonberg was recognized last summer as one of “25 for the Future” by DownBeat magazine and Vanity Fair cited her as a Millennial “Shaking Up the Jazz World.” Skonberg is a self-described “small town girl” from Chilliwack, British Columbia, who hightailed it to Vancouver straight out of high school and earned a degree in Jazz Trumpet Performance. To date, she has performed at some 100 festivals worldwide. She is the co-founder of the New York Hot Jazz Camp and New York Hot Jazz Festival. Further accolades include her recent 2017 Juno win for Vocal Jazz Album of The Year for Bria, Best Vocal and Best Trumpet awards from Hot House Jazz Magazine (2014-15), Outstanding Jazz Artist at the New York Bistro Awards (2014), DownBeat Rising Star (2013-15), and a nominee for Jazz Journalists’ Association Up and Coming Artist (2013).

Track Listing:

1. My Baby Just Cares for Me (Walter Donaldson / Gus Kahn) 03:06

2. Sway (Norman Gimbel / Pablo Beltrán Ruiz / Luis Demetrio Traconis) 03:15

3. Alright, Okay, You Win/Soul Bossa Nova; Well Alright, Okay, You Win/Soul Bossa Nova (Quincy Jones / Mayme Watts / Sidney Wyche) 03:19

4. Cocktails for Two (Sam Coslow / Arthur Johnston) 03:21

5. Whatever Lola Wants (Richard Adler / Jerry Ross) 03:00

6. Dance Me to the End of Love (Leonard Cohen) 05:36

7. It’s Oh So Quiet (Hans Lang / Erich Meder / Bert Reisfeld) 04:58

8. How I Know (Sam Hollander / Bria Skonberg) 04:10

9. High Hat, Trumpet, and Rhythm (Valaida Snow) 03:18

10. Back in Your Own Backyard (Dave Dreyer / Al Jolson / Billy Rose) 04:36

11. Same Kind of Crazy (Jeff Cohen / Bria Skonberg) 03:52

12. Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran / Amy Wadge) 04:46

13. Time to Go (Bria Skonberg) 02:55


Bria Skonberg: trumpet, vocals

Gil Goldstein: accordion, Fender Rhodes, keyboards

Steve Cardenas: acoustic guitar, electric guitar

Sheryl Henze: alto flute, bass flute

Alto Flute, Piccolo Flute – Kathleen Nester

Scott Colley: bass

George Flynn: bass trombone

Jody Redhage: cello

Evan Amtzen: clarinet, tenor saxophone

Erik Charleston: marimba, vibraphone

Aaron Goldberg: Fender Rhodes, piano 

Sullivan Fortner: Fender Rhodes, piano 

Bashiri Johnson: percussion

Michael Davis: trombone

Joyce Hammann: viola

Recorded at Pjhat Planet Studios, Orlando, FL; Sear Sound, Shelter Island, NY; The Lab, Brooklyn, NY

Producer: Matt Pierson

Engineer: Brian Boland, Roc Isaacs, Steve Addabbo

Assistant Engineer: Jeffrey Frey, Owen Mulholland

Mixed by Chris Allen

Mastered by Mark Wilder

Design: Amelia Tubb

Photography by Georgia Nerheim


With each successive, and successful album, Bria Skonberg becomes more and more the latest generation’s Diana Krall. Initially starting out as a “trad” trumpet player who sang a bit, Skonberg is turning into an impressive vocalist who now intermittently blows a solo here and there. This latest album has her interpreting some clever oldies and bringing in three originals in a variety of settings.

She shows how to coo on a New Orleans-grooved “Alright, Okay, You Win” and a splashy “Cocktails For Two” with a core team of Gil Goldstein/key-ac, Sullivan Fortner/p, Scott Colley/b and Matt Wilson/dr. She delivers a quirky “Same Kind of Crazy” with Wilson, while some hip woodwinds team with his brushes on a boppy “My Baby Just Cares For Me.” She initially whispers the intro to “It’s Oh So Quiet” before letting the party build up, and “Whatever Lola Wants” is speakeasy loose. Her horn still impresses on the swinging “Time To Go” and icy cool “Dance Me to the End of Love” where she taps into her inner Madeleine Peyroux. While some may quibble about her change of direction, she makes it work, and work well.

George W. Harris (Jazz Weekly)