Stamford singer opens for Dianne Reeves at Jazz Up July

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For Maria Tiscia, simply being asked to perform at the Jazz Up July concert series would have been enough. To discover she and her band would be opening for multiple Grammy-winning singer Dianne Reeves was a dream.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” said Tiscia, a longtime Stamford resident, during a recent interview.

Tiscia said she is looking forward to spotting some of the group’s longtime fans out in the crowd on Wednesday night, the very people who urged her and her partner and accompanist, David Oliver, to apply for a slot on the schedule.

“They really are responsible for our success,” she said. “They have been listening to us for years.”

The concert begins at 6:30 p.m. at Columbus Park, at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Main Street in Stamford. Admission is $10 (children 12 and younger are free.) (Above, a look at past and future acts.)

Tiscia will be joined by Oliver on piano, Geoff Morrow on bass, Joey Bracchitta on drums and Joe Stelluti on woodwinds. The play list will feature quite a few Brazilian tunes, she said — a bit of a departure from the more typical pop standards the group often performs.

Tiscia has been singing and performing professionally in the area since the early 1970s, not long after she graduated from Rippowam High School.

“I was really very fortunate,” she said, of her then nascent career, which took a successful turn when she began working with the late Don Elliott, a jazz musician, singer and composer. “He happened to hear me sing and he liked my voice. He started to hire me to do commercials.”

She would travel to his studios in Manhattan or the one in his Weston home, where she worked on commercials and had the chance to meet some of the best musicians working in New York City at the time.

“It really afforded me some great opportunities,” she said.

Since then, she has built a career performing in venues across Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester (N.Y.) counties. She and Oliver, and sometimes other musicians, perform at Fuji of Japan in Darien, Fairways at the Griff in Greenwich, Elements in White Plains, N.Y., and Sono Seaport Seafood in Norwalk.

Tiscia said she has always loved to sing.

“Growing up, my favorite toy was a little plastic pink wind-up radio,” she said.

It is in the act of singing, even more so than the performing, that she finds joy, she said.

“For me, it is like stepping inside the story,” she said. “You get inside that song and in those three minutes or however long the song is, nothing else comes in to play.”

Despite her longevity in the business, Tiscia has never released an official CD of her music.

“People have been telling me for years that you need to have a CD,” she said. Instead, she hands out free copies of her demo CD, often replacing them for diehard fans who have worn them out.

“I guess I really need to do something,” she said, laughing.

Christina Hennessy

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