Kitty set to bring a dash of glamour and noire to Rye


Kitty LaRoar cuts quite a figure standing elegantly behind her vintage snare drum and wearing a scarlet dress that makes her every inch the femme-fatale from a hard-boiled pulp novel or monochrome film noire.

But there is substantial substance behind the striking style.

This is a singer who conjure up her own words on the spot to a classic Sonny Rollins or Duke Ellington instrumental.

More than scat singing, her improvised words can sum up the scene in front of her, sometimes including detailed observations of the audience.

Long-term musical partner Nick Shankland, who goes under the name of ‘Nick of Time’, comments: “This is a pretty unique thing that she does. It is far more free-style than scat. She can make up words as she goes along.

Classic instrumentals Kitty will be giving voice to at Rye are likely to include Isfahan by Duke Ellington, Monk’s Evidence by Thelonius Monk and Sonny Rollins numbers such as Doxy and Pent-up House.

Kitty uses her voice like an instrument to full effect. “I like to sing like I am a horn player,” she says.

Kitty is a fully formed jazz singer but brings influences of theatre and cabaret to the act that found expression in her earlier project The Lucky Victims - an incarnation that is still being talked about.

On an album recorded in 2008, Kitty and Nick used synths and placed piece of A4 paper on piano strings to create a remarkable piece of jazz psychedelia.

She says: “I think it is about playing with other musicians you have a rapport with - you are able to be more playful.”

Her playmates on the night will include pianist Nick, trumpeter Andy Davies and bassist Adam King.

Mention should be made of Kitty’s beloved Gretsch vintage brass snare drum, which is a character in itself and part of her on-stage identity.

London based Kitty I has two regular city residencies at Scarfes Bar in High Holborn and China Tang at The Dorchester.

She has also played private functions for Hugh Hefner and Graham Norton.

Festival organiser Ian Bowden says of Kitty: “She has a powerful vocal style and stage presence that is simply mesmerising.”

He added: “The George makes a stunning and intimate jazz club environment for people to see the band.”

For more details about the performance and other acts at Rye International Jazz Festival, visit