Lisa Engelken - 2013

Photo by Eddy Bee


Best Bets 2015: Live Jazz Vocals

Jazz singer Lisa Engelken tackles every song as if it were the last time she might sing it.   – The Denver Post


It’s a RAVE!

JazzTimes Reviews Little Warrior


 Jazz Times - February 2014 cover


“The untamed brilliance continues!”

 Little Warrior is more adventurous and, by extension,

more original.

 – Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes      Read Full Review



“Engelken displays her take-no-prisoners, full-of-risks attitude, playing with the versatility and different colors of her voice, mysterious, mischievous, adventurous, intimate and at times sensual.”

 – Latin Jazz Network      Read Full Review




by jazzologist and Chicago radio host Lofton Emenari, III


1. Aaron Diehl-The Bespokesman’s Narrative- Mack Avenue.

2. Clipper Anderson-Ballad of the Sad Young Men-Origin.

3. Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet- In A World of Mallets- Basin St.

4. Nicholas Payton-’Live @ Bohemian Caverns-BMF.

5. Cecile McLorin Salvant-Woman Child-Mack Avenue.

6. Wadada Leo Smith-Ten Freedom Summers-Cuniform.

7. Andy Bey-The World According to..-Highnote.

7. Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette-Somewhere-ECM.

8. Chris Amemiya & Jazz Coalescence-In The Rain Shadow-OA2.

9. Lisa Engelken-Little Warrior-Little Angel.

10. Jacques Leseure-When She Smiles-WJ3.



“This is modern jazz at its best.”
Little Warrior is an album to be discovered and loved.

– Emily Berlanga-Ryan     Read Full Review



 “This is pan- sensual music:

tactile, fragrant, loud and bright.”

All About Jazz       Read Full Review




 “A perfect blend of beauty, elegance and power.”  

Engelken never imitates, and adds her own unique and fresh arrangements, making Little Warrior another gem in her ever growing and sparkling catalogue.

 –      Full Review



 “Expect the unexpected.” 

Engelken knows how to push all the right hipster buttons and deliver a winning performance in the process. Melding influences from whatever interests her at the time, this crazy kaleidoscope of a journey invites you to surrender control and let her be your tour guide through the world she has created. A dandy way to expect the unexpected.

Midwest Record  Read Full Review



 INTERVIEW with music journalist Esther Berlanga-Ryan:  


My voice is my biography.”
It is my story, it is the sum of what’s gone down. It is my birth, my childhood, my education, my every day that I have walked this earth. It is every emotion and experience I have had.  
  Read Full Interview



“San Francisco jazz singer Lisa Engelken’s new recording Little Warrior is both a remarkable group project and a display of individual talent and fortitude.”


-Leslie Katz, SF Examiner  Read Full Review





Here’s what JazzTimes had to say about Lisa’s previous release:

caravan album cover

Caravan, Voted Best of 2010

“She is an utter original.”

Blessed with superlative power, control and range Engelken can, as mood requires, be as soft as dew or as intense as a sleet storm; her interpretive instincts are astounding.”

Christopher Loudon   READ FULL REVIEW 


Westword Magazine named Lisa’s appearance at Dazzle Jazz in Denver to the BEST JAZZ SHOWS of the Summer !



“How Jazz Music Changed My Life”  by Ty Rushing.
A heartwarming piece.  Lisa had the pleasure of meeting this young journalist when she rolled through Kansas City last summer.


Interview with Ty Rushing:   From Farm to Fame
A preview to Lisa’s appearance at The American Jazz Museum’s Blue Room:



LIVE Concert Review:  Dazzle Jazz Club in Denver, CO.

“Lisa’s music is complex and novel sounding, but not enough to prevent a capacity audience for her sets Saturday. Though Engelken performs music in the jazz idiom, she takes to heart that most important of jazz traditions, which is that there are no traditions… Her reharmonizations and diverse mix of meters had me on the edge of my seat, listening with rapt attention for the whole two hour set.”




Ink Magazine writes:

Caravan is exceptional by any standard.”
A winning display of imagination and freedom, her radical interpretation is what jazz is supposed to be about.”


Andrew Gilbert writes…

More than a song stylist, she’s a dramatic force.
Caravan  is the work of an artist with her own sound and concept, a daring improviser with the technique to express even her most unorthodox ideas.

San Jose Mercury News   READ FULL REVIEW




Plastic Sax calls Caravan “exceptionally savvy.”

Caravan Named “Best of 2010”!
by jazz critics Christopher Loudon and Ken Franckling
(Scroll down for Top 10 List.)


Engelken puts the ‘extra’ in extraordinary.

Jazz Times

Jazz Times - cover - September 2010

Christopher Loudon‘s  “Best of 2010”  list:

1. Herbie Hancock The Imagine Project (Hancock/Red)
2. José James & Jef Neve For All We Know (Impulse!)
3. Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden Jasmine (ECM)
4. Cheryl Bentyne The Gershwin Songbook (King/ArtistShare)
5. Gregory Porter Water (Motéma)
6. Milton Suggs Things to Come (Skiptone)
7. Lisa Engelken Caravan (Little Angel)
8. Carolyn Leonhart/Wayne Escoffery Tides of Yesterday (Savant)
9. Hilary Kole You Are There (Justin Time)
10. Nellie McKay Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day (Verve)


Jazz Journalist Ken Franckling:

The 10 best new jazz releases of 2010 :
– Dave Bass Quartet, Gone (Dave Bass Music)
– Lisa Engelken, Caravan (Little Angel)
– Tamir Hendelman, Destinations (Resonance)
– Dave Holland Octet, Pathways (Dare2)
– Christine Jensen, treelines (Justin Time)
– Pat Metheny, Orchestrion (Nonesuch)
– Jean-Michel Pilc, True Story (Dreyfus)
– Ellen Rowe Quartet, Wishing Well (PKO Records)
– Omar Sosa & NDR Bigband, Ceremony (Otá)
– Jacky Terrasson, Push (Concord Jazz)


Photo by Seanie Blue 2010

Seanie Blue Review

It’s been years and we’re wearing different skins. In the dark hallway between sets we talk about our molted selves, those discarded skins we’ve left behind on paths we never knew why we traveled, and I remark how funny it is to look at our past and think we were never that person except it is so obvious we wouldn’t be here without them; I wouldn’t be here says Lisa if I hadn’t been there. We laugh, because ‘there’ means so much in music-speak: heartbreak and hope, perjury and injury, envy and sushi. Read more…


Caravan reviewed by Wilbert Sostre in Jazz Times
(May 2011 issue)

“Lisa Engelken’s Caravan is an album full of twists, turns and surprises that demands the complete attention of the listener.
The whole album feels like a live performance, and that is how good jazz should sound.”   Read Full Review


Live Review:  at Denver Dazzle Jazz, by KUVO FM’s Geoff Anderson:

“The propulsion provided by the band gave Engelken the kind of freedom you get riding on the back of a Harley headed toward Sturgis.”


Journalist Steve Palopoli Creates Exciting New Verb:  “Engelkenized”

Jazz covers of rock tunes aren’t uncommon anymore, but they’re usually instrumentals. And they’re definitely not Billy Idol songs. That’s why Lisa Engelken’s version of “White Wedding” crushes; she throws out the sneer, but keeps the dark edge. It’s prettier than the original, in the way that Ark of the Covenant angels are pretty, right before they melt your face off. And Idol isn’t the only artist that gets Engelkenized on her most recent record, Caravan — the inspired covers range from Duke Ellington to Cole Porter to Joni Mitchell.

– Steve Palopoli     Read Review



“Très fantastique,” Rachel Swan, East Bay Express.



Lisa Engelken – Caravan (Little Angel)

“This is an eclectic ten-pack of tunes from Lisa Engelken, a Kansas-bred, California-based singer who clearly isn’t afraid to test the outer limits of the genre. It’s a brilliant showcase not only for her gifts of substantial range and lyrical ability – but also her ability to see a project like this through from beginning to end – as producer. This recording is highly recommended.”

Douglas Boynton,  FULL REVIEW


Jazz pick by SF Examiner’s Brian McCoy:  SFJAZZ Summer Fest Concert Series:  October 13, 2010
Free concert in Levi’s Plaza, San Francisco, CA.

Darius Rips writes on Oliver di Place:

“Lisa Engelken is another of those fine jazz singers I keep getting lucky to find. And there is no question that she stays well within that musical category. But she still shows a wonderful musical imagination.  Her voice is a smooth purr, but she can express a full range of emotions with it. On the album, she also shows a gift for scat singing. Engelken may be clearly a jazz singer, but she is still not afraid to take chances, and she makes them pay off.”


Two-Part Interview with Brian McCoy in the

It’s very rare to have the opportunity to converse with a journalist about one’s craft and creative process.  And even more rare that, that conversation be given space in a newspaper.  Lisa relished this unique opportunity, thanks to Brian McCoy.  We hope you enjoy this 2-part interview.

Part I:    Interview with Brian McCoy

Part II:  Interview with Brian McCoy

Riffs on Jazz by John Anderson
Friday, April 9, 2010

Lisa Engelken is trying to seduce you, and with her latest CD, there’s no doubt she’ll succeed. Caravan takes us on a journey through the sometimes bumpy territory of love…The mix of updated standards, covers of Joni Mitchell and Billy Idol tunes, and a little funk give Engelken a chance to display her athletic vocal technique, from kittenish tease to speedy scatting to full-throated belting. And the often complex arrangements are ably handled by the talented group of musicians working with her. Special kudos go to Adam Shulman on piano and Jon Monahan on guitar. Lisa Engelken deserves to be heard more widely and Caravan will hopefully introduce this talented singer to a wider audience.”

Read full REVIEW

Ken Franckling’s Jazz Notes
Lisa Engelken, Caravan (Little Angel)

“This is a winner, pure and simple. Savor it all.”

Lisa Engelken may not have a household name when it comes to jazz singers, but this CD proves that she is most deserving of that stature.  The Kansas-born, California-based singer’s sophomore CD is a gem.  Key ingredients: an intriguing voice, a great mix of material avoiding the “tired tune” syndrome that dogs so many aspiring singers, and the ability to find material that she can imbue with her own strong jazz touch and feel.”


Scott Yanow’s review in L. A. Jazz Scene:

“…it is obvious that [Lisa] is already a major jazz singer. To her credit, she does not sound like any of her predecessors even though she has obviously learned from those who came before her.  Fans of jazz singing who enjoy unpredictable versions of standards will want Caravan.”


Review of Lisa in Concert:

“Thursday night at Dazzle, Engelken veered across a wide emotional spectrum so broad it could serve as a case study for manic depression.  From joy to sadness to nonchalance to numerous points in between, Engelken bared her soul on stage.  She put it on the line in the context of jazz standards that she arranged for herself.  Time and again, she came up with a fresh look at those old chestnuts.  “Caravan’ was a highlight and case in point.  Her arrangement of that one started off slowly almost like a tone poem.  Eventually, the pace increased to a gentle swing in ¾ time and finished with an extended jam in 7/4 time.  Not exactly your father’s Ellington.”

-Geoff Anderson   all-about-jazz      by Jeff Glass


Caravan, in short, is a stunning, moving, and beautiful work that announces the arrival of an intelligent, fearless vocal perfectionist on the jazz landscape.  Turn “shuffle” off and listen to the CD, front-to-back, to appreciate all the nuance great vocal jazz has to offer.


Thee best female vocalist I’ve heard this year…maybe for last year, too.”
–Russ Haines-WWSP-Stevens Point, WI


Lisa Engelken’s Caravan

by E. “Doc” Smith in


There have been some fabulous jazz musicians to come from DC over the last decade or so; pianist Geri Allen, bassist Ed Howard, guitarist Paul Bollenback, saxophonist Ron Holloway, to name just a few. They have become some of the most respected and sought after names in jazz. Add singer, composer and producer Lisa Engelken to that pantheon of great artists. Caravan will stand the test of time and is a harbinger of more great music to come.

Read full REVIEW.

“BOLD, lush, exotic and just a little bit dangerous, like waves of sound and heat:  EVEL KNEIVEL and JANIS JOPLIN.   Like Evel, she is a fearless daredevil, but never reckless, knowing exactly whether her voice can jump through a ring of fire and over 30 elephants – or whether it can go for 31.  And like Janis, she gives every ounce of herself onstage.”

Live Concert Review by columnist Erin Gray, the Monterey Herald

:  Wednesday, July 28, 2010, Lisa ducked into KUVO FM studios in Denver, CO, to speak with Arturo Gomez during his afternoon show.

Radio:  Thursday, July 22, 2010, KGNU FM in Boulder, CO.  Lisa spoke with Host Jerry Maddock about her upcoming show in Denver at Dazzle Jazz.

:  Sunday, June 20, 2010, Lisa had the pleasure to chat with radio host Brad Stone on KSJS, San Jose, CA about her upcoming dates in the San Jose/Morgan Hill area.

Radio:  Friday, June 11, 2010- Lisa visited with Avotcja, an amazing poet, musician and radio host on KPOO FM, San Francisco, CA  about her musical journey.

Radio:  Thursday, May 28, 2010, Lisa spoke with Scott Vander Werf, radio host at WGVU in Grand Rapids, MI.  The Mid-Day radio host played tracks from Lisa’s new CD “Caravan” and asked Lisa about the making of “Caravan”, about touring and the great musicians she’s been working with!

Radio:  Wednesday morning, May 5, 2010, Lisa had the rare honor to meet and speak with the amazing artist and radio host AVOTCJA on her show “Music of the World” in KPFA studios (94.1 fm, Berkeley) about tomorrow night:  Friday, May 7th CD  Release Celebration and Concert.

Radio:  Sunday morning, May 2nd,  2010, Lisa was a guest on KSJS ( 90.5 fm, San Jose) talking to Mike Schwartz live on his Sunday Jazz Show “Straight No Chaser” about Caravan and her sold-out CD Concert Celebration held Friday, May 7, 20107,  the Jazzschool in Berkeley.

Radio:  Thursday, April 1st, 2010, Lisa appeared LIVE on Community Bridge, the progressive alternative to talk radio on KSDB 91.9 FM, Manhattan, Kansas.  Yes, there IS progressive radio in Kansas, and it’s hosted by Chris Renner!  Michael Moore opened the segment with a brilliant discussion regarding the state of the nation.  You can hear Community Bridge on Thursdays, 5:00 – 6:00 pm.  Visit the KSDB website at:

Radio:  On Saturday, March 20th, Lisa appeared on “First Look” radio show to talk with host Jim Sintetos about her exciting new jazz release “Caravan.”  KRML broadcasts from beautiful Carmel, CA  (94.7 FM).

KRML interview with Lisa on “First Look”
with host Jim Sintetos.
Saturday, March 20th, 2010, 9:00am
94.7 FM in carmel,  ca.
[The station that brought you America’s favorite stalker.]

Listen to INTERVIEW with Jim Sintetos.