Jo Lawry Acrobats Trio

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Last Show: Tuesday 17 th January 2023

PizzaExpress Live (Holborn)

Australian vocalist Jo Lawry has forged an impressive solo career with a global fan base, while learning deep respect as a ‘musician’s singer’ within and beyond jazz circles. She’s also spent nearly a decade performing and recording with Sting and has worked with Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel. The two albums she released as a singer/songwriter/producer, Taking Picture (2015) and The Bathtub and the Sea (2017) garnered critical acclaim. Now, more than 10 years since her last solo jazz album, Lawry presents her new live project and chordless band Acrobats Trio, and album of the same name (Whirlwind Recordings, FEB 2023), unequivocally returning to the genre alongside globally in-demand bassist Orlando le Fleming and versatile drummer Allison Miller (Linda May Han Oh features on double bass on the album).

Acrobats is a playful album embodying both the freedom and exquisite complexity of jazz. The genesis for the project came about by Lawry setting herself a challenge: “I thought, what is the hardest thing I could do? And the answer was a trio album: voice, bass and drums, where I’m trying to function like a horn player and we’re providing the whole landscape without the benefit of chords.”

The Frank Loesser composition ‘Travelling Light’ opens the album with Lawry immediately in command, while the exceptional drum and bass team of Oh and Miller seamlessly provide the strong anchor, priming the listener’s ear for this absorbing trio format. The title track ‘Acrobats’ is by Gian Slater, a fellow Australian and a close friend of Lawry’s. “’Acrobats’ encapsulates the idea of the agility we want to play with and the trust we need to catch and support each other,” Lawry explains.  She reworks the standard ‘Taking a Chance on Love’, weaving in some Coltrane-esque harmony, while Cole Porter’s ‘You’re The Top’ begins with some standout brushwork from Miller. ‘Deed I Do’ neatly demonstrates the spirit of the whole record with its sense of risky playfulness. ‘You’re The Voice’ is a John Farnham hit “woven deeply into our DNA as Australians” says Lawry, “it’s part of the soundtrack to my childhood.” ‘Takes Two to Tango’ is a duet with Oh, in which the bassist delivers a captivating performance. ‘32 East 32nd Street’ is a Lennie Tristano tune that Lawry explores wordlessly before Frank Loesser’s ‘My Time of Day’ and ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before’ bring the record to a close. “’I’ve Never Been in Love Before’ is a well-known jazz standard,” says Lawry, “but what I have always absolutely adored is the vignette, ‘My Time of Day’ that precedes it in ‘Guys and Dolls’. It’s a song that has been in my head for 30 years as one of the most extraordinary melodies I’ve ever heard.”

Jo Lawry grew up on an almond farm in South Australia and, after a brief flirtation with operatic study, began her formal instruction in jazz. Her debut album as a leader, I Want to Be Happy, was named one of the “Best CDs of the Decade” by Downbeat Magazine. She has been featured as a guest on numerous modern jazz recordings; stand-outs include Dr. Lonnie Smith’s album Rise Up! and Kate McGarry’s Grammy-nominated If Less is More… Nothing is Everything. She is also the vocalist for the Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra, a quartet whose album, Live at Jazz Standard was released on Sunnyside Records.

Jo has become well-known beyond jazz circles for her work with Sting, with whom she has toured and recorded since 2009, and more recently with Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel. In 2013, Jo was featured in the film 20 Feet From Stardom, which chronicled the lives and careers of “the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century” and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Orlando le Fleming is among the most proficient and accomplished bassists in the field of contemporary jazz, Orlando le Fleming's virtuoso technique, boundless creativity and powerful beat are those of a musician who has found himself, humbly, occupying a space in the uppermost stratum of American improvised music.


Orlando's facility as an improviser and capacity as a team player were first honed not on the bandstand, nor in the practice room, but on the cricket pitch. Originally from the UK, Orlando seemed destined for an athletic career, and was briefly a professional cricketer, until he was granted a place at London’s Royal Academy of music, and his lifelong passion for music won out. 

Allison Miller is a NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher who engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a Modern Jazz Icon in the Making, Miller won Downbeat magazine’s 67th Annual Critics Poll “Rising Star Drummer” and JazzTimes magazine’s Critics Poll. Her composition, “Otis Was a Polar Bear”, is included on NPR’s list of The 200 Greatest Songs by 21st Century Women+. She is also the first recipient of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s Commissioning Grant. In January 2020 Miller along with her band, Boom Tic Boom, tap dancer-Claudia Rahardjanoto, and video designer-Todd Winkler premiered this new multimedia suite, In Our Veins, with a seven show tour sponsored by Jazz Touring Network and Mid Atlantic Arts. The project explores multimedia performance as a vital form of knowledge production through the poetic interpretation of historical events and their association with the geography, ecology and flow of specific rivers.

Band Line Up

Jo Lawry (voice)

Orlando le Fleming (double bass)

Allison Miller (drums)