Jessica Fleming: Interview

Jessica Fleming, a Montclair State alumnus, is an extremely talented jazz musician who performs at the DLV Lounge in Montclair.

Jessica Fleming is a talented jazz musician.

jessica fleming
Photo courtesy of Bruce Tyler.

Jessica Fleming plays piano, guitar, drums and can sing her tail off. She can go from bluesy ballads to smooth R & B without the slightest bit of trouble. I have seen her play many times and, in turn, performed with her many times in the past three years. Jessica Fleming has grown to become not just a good singer, but a very confident vocalist and capable musician as well. The set that I caught at the DLV Lounge was a real treat for all those that were in attendance. She truly made the DLV a New York scene.

On the date that I caught her set, she was opening a four act show featuring Jessica, Andrew Nieporant, Thank You for Seeing and Bee. Jessica Fleming opened a strong seven-song set with “Walking on the Moon,” a cover originally done by the Police. She began the song with a broad expressive choral intro, followed by a haunting piano/vocal arrangement that set the tone that followed the rest of the performance.

Following was “Listen to Your Heart,” an original composition and an expressive ballad with very solid vocals with just the right touch of R & B flavor. Then, she went into an adaptation of a Ray Charles classic, “I Got A Woman” changing the key lyrics to I Got a Man.” Jessica Fleming made the song flow like water over moss covered rocks in a stream.

Then onto another original done in an Am blues, “These Things,” Jessica Fleming’s vocals draw you into the song, as she uses her skills and musicianship creating a canvas of subtle colors, painting throughout the song. “Fallin” another original, that reminds you that she can cover the field with her skills as a true musician. I really like the way she plays with dynamics. Followed by a nicely done ballad, “See You One More Time,” a song that tugs at your soul. Sung as only she can do. Her inner soul pours right through you like a smooth milkshake. The final song of the set, “Feelin Good,” she arranged is taken from the musical “Rose of the Greasepaint-Skull of the Crowd,” here you really get to see her mastery of dynamics and control in a relaxed feel, but never too tight! You can hear the interplay of the lyrics and the dynamic feel throughout.

Jessica Fleming graduated from Montclair State University in 2012 with a degree in Jazz Studies. She also received The Jazz Award in her senior year at Montclair State. The Montclair Dispatch was able to catch up with Fleming in an interview:

Bruce Tyler: How long have you been singing?

Jessica Fleming: About seven or eight years. I didn’t take any formal lessons until I got to college. I was also in the Jazz Vocal Ensemble and University Singers.

B.T. Is piano your principle instrument?

J.F. Yes! I’ve been playing since about five years old.  According to my mom, I started playing a song she heard on the radio.

B.T. While at Montclair State did you perform in many of the ensembles that were offered?

J.F. I performed in all the ensembles, including Big Band, and small group ensembles.

B.T. What are some of the venues and clubs you’ve played in?

J.F. Tierney’s, Trend, The Dopeness(Jersey City), The Montclair Center Stage, The Ray land Inn (White House Station) and The Afro-Brazilian Cultural Center (Bloomfield, N.J.). I also toured all over Canada and up and down the East Coast. I attended the Winter Music Conference in Miami two years straight. I played a venue called Club Privilege in Ibiza, Spain. I was 22 or 23 at that time.  I played drums in a band called Traveling In Stereo and a band called Output; I played synth with that band for three and a half years. I was 21 when I toured Canada.

B.T. How long have you lived in Montclair?

J.F. Seven years.

B.T. How do you choose your songs?

J.F. I get a lot of ideas from food stores like CVS; that’s where most of my cover ideas come from, [because] I think of songs from when I was younger. I listened to all kinds of music when I was younger. My songs are a kind of therapy, songwriting is very therapeutic for me.

B.T. Do you primarily listen to Jazz?

J.F. I primarily listen to jazz but also Old school Hip Hop, Funk and House Music.

B.T. Are you working on any projects at the moment?

J.F.  Still writing! I have some stuff in the works. Playing solo more, playing solo is good for me. I had real bad stage fright! I love playing with big groups though. Playing open mics has helped me to learn a lot. I’ve been practicing as much as I can in the last few months. Doing a lot of reorganizing.

B.T. How do you feel about reading music?

J.F. It’s hard, it takes me a little longer than most people.

B.T. Do you like teaching?

J.F. Yeah! I do, I know a lot more than I think I do.

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