Bios

BURNELL MUSIC

Mark Burnell - Pianist/Vocalist

An accomplished pianist/vocalist/arranger, Mark is one of Chicago’s most sought after musicians, working with a wide array of talent, including Bobby McFerrin, Dave Frishberg, Connie Francis, Laurel Masse, Sharon McNight, Laura San Giocomo, Richie Cole, Mark Murphy, Howie Mandel, and Seth Myers. The Chicago Sun-Times hailed Mark’s work as “silky smooth and highly polished”, and Cabaret Hotline praised him as “one of the most talented pianists and arrangers I’ve seen”. In 2009 and 2010 Mark was a Master Instructor at the International Cabaret Conference at Yale University. He taught at Carnegie Mellon University for 10 years.

Mark and his wife Anne were named in“Chicago’s Top Ten” for 2002 & 2003 by New York’s Cabaret Hotline. From Paris, Amsterdam to New York, they have delighted audiences the world over with their unique jazz/pop and a cappella stylings. They have performed at some of the Windy City’s top spots including Davenport’s, Park West and Drury Lane Water Tower Theatre with Chicago Cabaret Professionals. They sang the national anthem for the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Chicago Fire, and the Special Olympics. Their acclaimed CD of duets “Little Things We Do Together” has been featured on Chicago radio stations WGN, WXRT, WDCB and nationally on Radio One Network. 

 

Anne Burnell - Vocalist

Before she recorded her last album Blues In The Night: Songs by Harold Arlen, Anne Burnell, one of Chicago’s most versatile live performers, followed a classic roadmap paying lush tribute to a legend. The collection was an NPR and jazz radio sensation across the U.S., and was played internationally on Jazz & Blues Tour Radio, Amsterdam and Canada and – testament to its “cool” factor with young tastemakers hit the Top Ten on the CMJ charts.  Anne’s latest, the gloriously diverse and whimsically titled Summer Days & Dreamy Nights, celebrates not a single composer but a singular friendship between the singer/songwriter and renowned Windy City based jazz guitarist Henry Johnson, who produced, arranged and plays electric and acoustic throughout the 13 track set.  She met Johnson three years ago at Andy’s Jazz Club during one of the many gigs she played there with her husband and frequent musical partner, pianist and vocalist Mark Burnell. They struck up an immediate friendship and had a feeling they would soon be collaborating on a project. 

Excited about the liberation of Anne’s vocal palette and newfound emotional dynamics, she and Johnson sought the perfect blend of material to showcase her evolving artistry. The resulting collection is cleverly divided three ways.  One third of Summer Days & Dreamy Nights is her beautiful and heartfelt original material, highlighted by the balmy, percussive and brass-fired romance “San Juan” and “Right By You,” a soulful, easy strutting gem penned by Anne and Mark, who plays piano on seven tracks.  The second third is a mix of crafty re-imaginings of well-known songs, including an elegantly jazzy, slowly simmering “Close To You,” a lighthearted, a coolly wistful turn on Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and the lively jazz-soul twist on “Goin’ Out Of My Head” that closes the set.  Johnson’s vast knowledge of music helped drive the selections of the final third of the project, covers of songs that are so obscure the listener might think they’re brand new. These include two beautiful Henry Mancini pieces, the lush and caressing “Dreamsville” (from the “Peter Gunn” TV series) and a lively samba flavored take on “Moment To Moment,” featuring lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The soulful purity of Anne’s voice also shines through on Irving Berlin’s “I Got Lost In His Arms” from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun.” Anne also swings brilliantly through “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” a tune from 1927; Johnson’s deft arrangement includes explosive solos by tenor saxophonist Eric Schneider and trumpeter Corey Wilkes.  Also helping bring Anne and Henry’s distinctive and beautiful vision of Summer Days & Dreamy Nights to life is the alternately powerful and subtle rhythm section of bassist Joshua Ramos and drummer Charles Heath III, both of whom tour regularly with Johnson as part of Ramsey Lewis’ band. 

--Jonathan Widran, Jazziz Magazine