The Artistry of… Bria Skonberg

These words from Quincy Jones say it so well: “It’s such a groove watching my skol sister follow in the path of Pops, Louis Armstrong, the one who started it all… She even follows his motto: Play it, don’t say it!”

Bria Skonberg is based in New York, born in Chilliwack, B.C. She has won over critics with her ability to easily link the present with the past, bridging eras and styles. It is easy to apply the term crossover artist, but the essence of how jazz has reflected, played with, manipulated and reinvented music, the arts and life is something Skonberg does very well. Crossover barely applies. She is simply doing what jazz is.

Collaborations span the world of music including work with U2, Dave Matthews and Jon Batiste. Her artistry speaks to her gender, with projects celebrating women, including leading the big band Sisterhood of Swing. The inspiration for the band is the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, which was the first integrated, all-female swing group. That band debuted more than 80 years ago. The energy is infectious and the spirit unyielding. It’s just like Q said: “Such a groove… skol sister.”

The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.