Jesse Palter on vocals, Mike Jellick on piano, Ben Williams on bass and Keith Hall on drums.
It's fair to say that singing is in Jesse Palter’s blood. Her grandmother, Dorothea Raynor, was an opera prodigy in New York who continued singing throughout her life. In Jesse's Bloomfield Hills house growing up the sounds of Motown, show tunes, Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett were always playing. Jesse started singing publicly at age five and learning piano at six. She subsequently studied oboe and trumpet and attended a middle school where she starred in a number of theatrical productions. In fact, the first public indication that jazz lay in her future came during rehearsals for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," when Jesse, playing the narrator, began "embellishing" the melodies; although the director admonished her, she also told Jesse's mother that Jesse had a natural inclination towards improvisational singing.
She learned to love Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra and other classic jazz vocalists as a teen growing up in the Britney Spears era in suburban Detroit. Her parents, seeing the success of teen singers like Spears, suggested that she go pop. Palter loved the pop stuff, too, so she went along. She found herself under the guidance of production team Mark and Jeff Bass, Detroit brothers who’d worked with Eminem and Dr. Dre.
"I never felt quite at home," she says, "until I had a forum to improvise". Her persistence paid off in getting the University of Michigan School of Music to allow her to be part of its jazz program as a vocalist -- a course of study the school didn't offer at the time. But after hearing Jesse audition, they struck a compromise in which she agreed to take classical voice classes ("Working on my vocal hygiene," she says) while studying jazz theory and improvisation with legendary artist/instructors such as Donald Walden and Dennis Wilson.