behind the music

Scarecrow Sessions

by Kiki Ebsen

Scarecrow Sessions is a collection of jazz standards taken from her father’s early movies and musical productions. Song selections include “If I Only Had a Brain,” “Moon River,” “Laura” and “Easy to Love.” The booklet includes some of Kiki’s personal notes about his career, such as the true story behind his involvement in The Wizard of Oz. (Buddy was originally cast as the Scarecrow, hence the name of the record.)

She recorded on the East Coast (where her dad’s career started) with an all-star band including bassist John Patitucci and guitarist Chuck Loeb. The album was produced and arranged by David Mann, a veteran saxophonist of the New York City jazz scene.

Kiki is best known as a singer/songwriter, with five previously released albums. Scarecrow Sessions is her first jazz recording and here she explains her inspiration:

“Shirley Temple’s recent passing reminded me that our time is limited. We are losing iconic talents many of us grew up with. By recording these songs I hope not only to honor my father’s memory and his love of jazz, but to create a musical statement that is truly my own, connecting his past to my present in a way that will no doubt leave me forever changed.”

“When she sings, the power of her vocals conveying the lyrics is mesmerizing... Basically she was born to be on stage, somewhere, anywhere, everywhere.”
Dawn Lee Wakefield - Examiner.com 3/24/14
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  1. 1 Buy [Info] You Don't Know What Love Is 04:43
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  2. 2 Buy [Info] If I Only Had A Brain 05:39
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  3. 3 Buy [Info] Missing You 02:58
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  4. 4 Buy [Info] Moon River 04:11
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  5. 5 Buy [Info] Comes Love 03:00
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  6. 6 Buy [Info] Tea For Two 03:09
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  7. 7 Buy [Info] Codfish Ball 02:01
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  8. 8 Buy [Info] Laura 04:13
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  9. 9 Buy [Info] Easy To Love 02:43
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  10. 10 Buy [Info] Prelude 00:48
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  11. 11 Buy [Info] St Louis Blues 04:54
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  12. 12 Buy [Info] Over The Rainbow 04:27
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A special Father's Day Concert

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REVIEWS and more

Examiner.com
October 10, 2014  • Dawn Lee Wakefield 
Examiner.com 
March 24, 2014  Dawn Lee Wakefield 
Inside Musicast
Live interview recorded Jun 15, 2015
Smooth Jazz Therapy 
Denis Poole  •  September 12, 2014 
Monterey County Weekly  
June 19, 2014    Adam Joseph
JAZZed 
Ron Wright  •  September 2014
Jazz Weekly
George W. Harris  • 
Smooth Jazz Daily  
Hans-Bernd Hulsmann • September 2014
The Jazz Project
Jean-Keith Fagon  •  September 3, 2014
Keys and Chords-Belgium
Patrick Van de Wiele  •  September 9, 2014
Soul and Jazz and Funk
September 9, 2014

 

June 2014

The latest news! 

Kiki Ebsen displays brains, courage and a whole lot of heart
singing jazz to honor her famous father
 
“Scarecrow Sessions,” the critically-lauded homage to Buddy Ebsen, is garnering radio-play
led by the single, “If I Only Had A Brain.”

Calabasas, California (1 October 2014): Reluctant no more, Kiki Ebsen clicked the heels of her ruby red shoes three times and set off on the yellow brick road armed with the Great American songbook, Broadway show tunes and songs from Hollywood’s Golden Era that are connected to the career of her celebrity father, Buddy Ebsen. Yesterday (Sept. 30), the singer-songwriter-keyboardist released the David Mann-produced “Scarecrow Sessions” on her Painted Pony Media label, a classy offering being warmly received by jazz radio programmers and journalists across the nation charmed by the elegant acoustic jazz recording, the sentimentality that inspired it and a sprinkling of Tinseltown stardust.

Initially, Kiki Ebsen dug her heels in defiantly at her father’s insistence that she learn to sing jazz standards, instead preferring to follow her own path by writing her own material and singing and playing with pop, rock and R&B royalty. Years after Buddy’s passing, Kiki smartly mustered the courage to go out on a limb in order to honor his wishes, which she ably does with heart on the twelve songs, including “Missing You,” a touching beauty co-penned by Buddy unearthed while Kiki was foraging through a box of his old scripts and songbooks. One of those scripts was from “The Wizard of Oz.” Buddy was originally cast to play the Scarecrow, but agreed to play the Tin Man instead. However, metallic particles from the costume and the aluminum makeup covering his hands, neck and face provoked a toxic reaction when it seeped into his lungs causing the actor to be hospitalized for several days where he required the aid of a respirator in order to breathe, leaving him unfit to play the part. In addition to recording “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “If I Only Had A Brain” from the iconic feature - the latter being the first single presently collecting radio spins at stations across the U.S. - Kiki also selected gems from Buddy’s celebrated film roles in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” with Audrey Hepburn (“Moon River”), “Captain January” with Shirley Temple (“At The Codfish Ball”), and “Banjo On My Knee” with Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck (“St. Louis Blues”).

The imaginative artistry and high-level musicianship make “Scarecrow Sessions” more than just a delightful stroll down memory lane. Ebsen’s initial endeavor into jazz shines brightly on its own merits. Possessing grace and an invitingly expressive voice, Ebsen recorded in New York City not far from her father’s environs when he was on Broadway and a Vaudevillian song and dance man. She was joined in the studio by some of the locale’s finest players including Chuck Loeb (electric and acoustic guitars), John Patitucci (acoustic and electric bass), Henry Hey (piano and organ), Clint de Ganon (drums) and Mann on saxophone and flute.

Having spent the summer touring and performing songs from “Scarecrow Sessions” nationally and abroad, Ebsen has Northern and Southern California shows booked this fall, including October 13 at Genghis Cohen in Los Angeles.

In addition to being profiled in the next issue of Jazziz magazine, below is a sampling of the album reviews that have been published thus far:

“The sound is excellent. So are the understated and fitting arrangements. Like her makeup and costume on the cover, this is an Uptown production (think Café Carlyle) with a Downtown feel (the Half Note). It’s highly approachable and there’s joy in the listening.” - JAZZed Magazine

“Her voice is warm and sweet and altogether lovely in such songs as ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is,’ ‘Moon River,’ ‘Comes Love,’ ‘Laura,’ ‘Easy to Love’ and the ‘St. Louis Blues.’” – The Buffalo News

“Everything about ‘Scarecrow Sessions’ oozes class, from the selection of the songs, to the contribution of the musicians and even to the quality of the comprehensive liner notes booklet that accompanies the CD. Without doubt this is a release with ‘must have’ written all over it.” – Smooth Jazz Therapy

“Although Kiki Ebsen recorded these songs to honor her father’s memory and his love of jazz, her enticing, intimate vocals make these songs great to listen to, relax to, or dance to. In the process, she has created a musical statement that is truly her own but one that is definitely easy to love and one that her father would certainly be proud of.” - AXS

“She (Kiki) recorded ‘Scarecrow Sessions’ in her own time, in her own voice, and in her truth. Working with David Mann to produce this project helped shape it into a masterpiece.” – Pink & Blue Notes

“’Scarecrow Sessions’ showcases her classically-trained voice imbued in its warm, elegant, and inspirational performances.” – Hill Rag

“An impressive album that reflects the musical upbringing that her father, actor Buddy Ebsen (remember The Beverly Hillbillies?), gave her.” – Jazz Weekly

“With her album Kiki has obviously reached the hearts of those who fondly remember the golden days of Hollywood.” – Smooth Jazz Daily
 
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  • Dave Pruitt

    Dave Pruitt Springfield, IL

    Hi Kiki - Read "Ron Wright's great review in Jazzed Magazine last month. (Yes, they still send it to old retired Jazz Music Educators!)...FREE! Meant to go to your site here and listen several weeks ago, so finally just listened to all tracks of "Scarecrow". Wow! What great recording! Since my last message sent @ a year and a half ago, you have finally done what you told us you would, "someday I would like to do", while in between shows on that CC tour in Decatur, IL, over a decade ago. Awesome! Terrific mix, and tremendous musicians around you on this recording. Congratulations on all the great "press" and recent reviews! Please keep playing & singing these "standards". Wonderful music & arrangements! BTW- The "kid" (right out of college) that took my job in 2011 when I retired, was a Jazz Education/Performance major, born & raised in, where else?, Belleville, IL! Your Dad is smiling right now, and is he ever proud of you!
    Hi Kiki - Read "Ron Wright's great review in Jazzed Magazine last month. (Yes, they still send it to old retired Jazz Music Educators!)...FREE! Meant to go to your site here and listen several weeks ago, so finally just listened to all tracks of "Scarecrow". Wow! What great recording! Since my last message sent @ a year and a half ago, you have finally done what you told us you would, "someday I would like to do", while in between shows on that CC tour in Decatur, IL, over a decade ago. Awesome! Terrific mix, and tremendous musicians around you on this recording. Congratulations on all the great "press" and recent reviews! Please keep playing & singing these "standards". Wonderful music & arrangements!
    BTW- The "kid" (right out of college) that took my job in 2011 when I retired, was a Jazz Education/Performance major, born & raised in, where else?, Belleville, IL! Your Dad is smiling right now, and is he ever proud of you!
  • DAVID

    DAVID CANOGA PARK CALIFORNIA USA

    KIKI, from the first time I meet you back b/4 REALLIFE was a band at the ranch I knew that this was to be your path in life, and am very glad that I was so right. you have the real "BEAUTY IN SIDE" and your music is love to my ears.
    KIKI,
    from the first time I meet you back b/4 REALLIFE was a band at the ranch I knew that this was to be your path in life, and am very glad that I was so right. you have the real "BEAUTY IN SIDE" and your music is love to my ears.
  • Robbie Wise

    Robbie Wise not at Bonnaroo but in TN

    My god just got the scarecrow cd and it is the best recording of the last 25 years. thank you and come and play the Ryman if you ever come down south.
    My god just got the scarecrow cd and it is the best recording of the last 25 years. thank you and come and play the Ryman if you ever come down south.
  • Dave Pruitt

    Dave Pruitt Springfield, IL

    Hi Kiki - I first heard you perform many years ago, (late 90's, with CC, at a Street Celebration in Decatur, IL), and in between shows you visited with my wife and I about Music. (We both were Music Educators, retired in 2011). You were awesome then, and listening to your new work, still carrying the dream of making the world a better place through music. You might remember us because you told us your name, and I said "Ebsen, spelled like "Jed C"? Buddy Ebsen?", and you never even eluded to the fact who Dad was! (We got home, read all your credits with "Chicago", and then found out "who" Dad was!) After watching your video clips, and listening to some of the songs on this CD, you are taking care of some childhood "growing" pains many of us endured through our early years. (In viewing the clips on the making of this CD) Your words and music show the beautiful healing that is going on....sometime it takes years. Being a jazz educator for years, I just love the sound, and the arranging of your originals. Keep spreading the gospel of "good" music to as many young kids as you can, and keep the great tunes coming for us older (@60) folks! P.S. Love horses too! Such a great thing you are doing there also. Come back to the Midwest sometime....It will cool off by fall!
    Hi Kiki - I first heard you perform many years ago, (late 90's, with CC, at a Street Celebration in Decatur, IL), and in between shows you visited with my wife and I about Music. (We both were Music Educators, retired in 2011). You were awesome then, and listening to your new work, still carrying the dream of making the world a better place through music.
    You might remember us because you told us your name, and I said "Ebsen, spelled like "Jed C"? Buddy Ebsen?", and you never even eluded to the fact who Dad was! (We got home, read all your credits with "Chicago", and then found out "who" Dad was!) After watching your video clips, and listening to some of the songs on this CD, you are taking care of some childhood "growing" pains many of us endured through our early years. (In viewing the clips on the making of this CD) Your words and music show the beautiful healing that is going on....sometime it takes years. Being a jazz educator for years, I just love the sound, and the arranging of your originals. Keep spreading the gospel of "good" music to as many young kids as you can, and keep the great tunes coming for us older (@60) folks! P.S. Love horses too! Such a great thing you are doing there also. Come back to the Midwest sometime....It will cool off by fall!
  • Curtis D

    Curtis D Phoenix AZ

    Hello Kiki. I was able to see CC and you in Las Vegas on November 16th and wanted to thank you for an amazing performance. I sat just to your right on the front row, and it looked like you were having a really good time. I was hoping that you would have performed "I Will Take You Forever" as I think it is such a beautiful song. I hope in the near future that CC and you and the band will come to Phoenix or Tucson or anywhere in Arizona, for that matter, so that I can catch your show again. Thanks again to you and CC and the rest of the band for putting on an amazing show!!!
    Hello Kiki. I was able to see CC and you in Las Vegas on November 16th and wanted to thank you for an amazing performance. I sat just to your right on the front row, and it looked like you were having a really good time. I was hoping that you would have performed "I Will Take You Forever" as I think it is such a beautiful song. I hope in the near future that CC and you and the band will come to Phoenix or Tucson or anywhere in Arizona, for that matter, so that I can catch your show again. Thanks again to you and CC and the rest of the band for putting on an amazing show!!!
  • luis rodriguez

    luis rodriguez Uruguay

    Hi Kiki, I knew you for your performances with Christopher Cross. Now , I have been listening to your songs as a soloist and I find them simply great. I have been pop music fan since I was 14(now I´m 53).I am an English teacher (ESL) When I was a teenager, I never dreamed that I would get to see those artists in public. And Christopher Cross is one of them. In fact I went to one of your concerts, the one held at Asuncion, Paraguay two or three years ago.It was great!!!
    Hi Kiki,
    I knew you for your performances with Christopher Cross. Now , I have been listening to your songs as a soloist and I find them simply great.
    I have been pop music fan since I was 14(now I´m 53).I am an English teacher (ESL)
    When I was a teenager, I never dreamed that I would get to see those artists in public. And Christopher Cross is one of them. In fact I went to one of your concerts, the one held at Asuncion, Paraguay two or three years ago.It was great!!!
  • Dawayne Bailey

    Dawayne Bailey Los Angeles

    Keek - you're funny - you're pretty - you're amazing - I love you and it was much big fun being on the road with you!!
    Keek - you're funny - you're pretty - you're amazing - I love you and it was much big fun being on the road with you!!
  • Jim

    Jim Quincy, CA.

    I remember you from way back when we were in a small band in Agoura. I'm not amazed that you became a very accomplished musician, I knew it was in you! Best to you all. Jim R.
    I remember you from way back when we were in a small band in Agoura. I'm not amazed that you became a very accomplished musician, I knew it was in you! Best to you all. Jim R.
  • Tommaso

    Tommaso Italy

    Hello Kiki...saw you in concert with Christopher Cross in Padova last sunday and to me your keyboard playing and vocals were some of the highlights of the show. Been following your career since your Red cd...quality stuff! Thanks for the music!
    Hello Kiki...saw you in concert with Christopher Cross in Padova last sunday and to me your keyboard playing and vocals were some of the highlights of the show. Been following your career since your Red cd...quality stuff! Thanks for the music!
  • Gigliola

    Gigliola Italy

    I had a great time at the concert in Forlì yesterday, you, Christopher Cross and the whole band were really great! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me after the show. Have a good time tonight in Milan. See you tomorrow night in Padova for another show!
    I had a great time at the concert in Forlì yesterday, you, Christopher Cross and the whole band were really great! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me after the show. Have a good time tonight in Milan. See you tomorrow night in Padova for another show!