“Lori Carsillo is a vocal musician of relaxed, cool self-assurance and her voice is special for its unfiltered feelings and melodic warmth.”
- Herb Wong, jazz historian, producer, Black Hawk Records & Palo Alto Records founder

A noted presence on the Bay Area jazz scene, Lori Carsillo (an Italian name, pronounced: “car-SILL-oh”), is a vocalist of subtlety and sophistication. The nuance of her phrasing is constantly fresh and compelling. Her repertoire, a mix of well-known favorites and forgotten gems, draws praise from listeners as well as fellow musicians, as does her innate musical sense and down-to-earth nature. She sings with an unaffected, unpretentious style, never overreaching, and always at ease.

Carsillo has performed at top Bay Area venues - Yoshi’s, Bimbo’s 365 Club, the San Jose Jazz Festival - and performed up and down the West Coast. In her formative years, she traveled throughout Europe singing at such festivals as the North Sea Jazz Festival and Umbria Jazz Festival. During the last few years, she has been invited to Santa Fe, NM where she has become a regular guest artist in several local jazz series. Paul Weideman of The New Mexican Pasatiempo Magazine observes, “she has a gorgeous voice, like velvet.”

“Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Lori Carsillo has a simple and direct delivery, a coolly sensuous voice, and an improvising style that is quite subtle. Her choice of notes is excellent, she swings at all tempos. One suspects that a lot more is going to be heard from Lori Carsillo in the future.”
- Scott Yanow, LA-based jazz writer and historian, author of The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide

Carsillo’s interest in music was nurtured from a young age in a family of musicians and artists. Her early musical interest led her to study classical music and opera. Exposure to musical theatre introduced her to many of the standard songs in the jazz repertoire, igniting her passion for the genre. Carsillo spent hours listening to recordings of singers Julie London, Nancy Wilson, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and instrumentalists Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, among others, providing inspiration and a deep connection to the music.

While jazz has remained her first love, Carsillo’s wide-ranging musical interest has led her to experiment with projects from opera to funk to electronica, dabbling in classic 60s lounge pop, Brazilian music, and R&B. The diversity of her musical background culminates in a rich, colorful singing style that is wholly her own.

A Bay Area native, Carsillo made an auspicious debut singing at the Palo Alto Jazz Festival with the Menlo-Atherton High School Jazz Band. Led by local legend, Frank Moura, the band opened for Carmen McRae, Tuck & Patti, The Yellowjackets. The band went on to play the Reno Jazz Festival and performed locally on a regular basis. Carsillo and the M-A Jazz Band toured Europe and performed at The North Sea Jazz Festival (The Netherlands), Umbria Jazz Festival (Italy), Lido-Bienne Big Band Festival (Switzerland), and at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, France. Much of Carsillo’s early exposure to the fundamentals of jazz was through this experience with touring and performing.

Carsillo has the distinction of being the first ever vocalist for the M-A Jazz Band - after talking her way into the instrumental-only program - thus spawning a thriving vocal program that is still in effect today and has produced several professional singers.

Expanding on this early experience, Carsillo studied jazz with several internationally renowned jazz singers: the Bay Area’s Kitty Margolis, and via the Stanford Jazz Workshop, Madeline Eastman and Concord recording artist, Kurt Elling.

Carsillo’s debut jazz CD, Bittersweet, is a unique collection of standards and lesser-known jazz tunes. Inspired by the 1961 record The Newest Sound Around by Ran Blake & Jeanne Lee, Bittersweet is like a noir soundtrack that walks the line between hope and sorrow. Her warm and intimate style emerges fully-formed and self-assured.

Bittersweet features “some of the Bay Area’s best - and most under-appreciated - musicians for her moody debut CD, Bittersweet,” (JazzIz Magazine) including Dave MacNab (guitar, co-producer), John Shifflett (bass), Jason Lewis (drums), Michael Bluestein (keyboards). Adding texture and depth to the recording, Eric Crystal plays saxophone, Robin Bonnell is on cello, and Robby Ach plays the theremin.

DownBeat Magazine praised, “...Savvy Bay Area ingenue, turns a deft phrase, sweetly reworks melodies and convincingly touches 10 standards” and JazzIz Magazine, said “composer Cole Porter probably never envisioned Carsillo’s seductive delivery on his “Get Out of Town.” Michael Handler of Jazz West noted that “this singer, has a smoky, sensuous feeling accentuated by the wonderful choices of ballads and love songs.”

Bittersweet was followed up by Cole Porter...Old Love, New Love, True Love, a tribute to one of Carsillo’s favorite composers. Inspired by a performance given at Yoshi’s (Oakland), the recording features Dave MacNab on guitar, Devin Hoff on bass, and Alan U’Ren on drums. MacNab provided the arrangements, reworking the tunes with a hip, modern vibe.

“Lori Carsillo...is in excellent form on Cole Porter...Old Love, New Love, True Love,” said Scott Yanow in The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide.

In a slight departure from the first two CDs, Carsillo recorded Lullabies for Little Dreamers. The jazz-influenced CD is a collection of beloved classic and modern lullabies, plus one original. Carsillo co-arranged all the songs and co-wrote the original tune with guitarist and arranger, Jay Stapleton.

Lush and soothing Lullabies for Little Dreamers brings together the talents of jazz and classical players. It features Jay Stapleton (guitar), John Wiitala (bass), Jon Evans (bass, recording engineer), Alan U’Ren (drums and percussion), Jennifer Kloetzel (cello), and Carsillo’s talented sister, Jennifer Carsillo (violin), and her notably impressive brother-in-law, Conductor Michael Butterman (piano).

In June 2014, Carsillo releases Sugar & Smoke, a 12-song collection of 60s-era jazz standards and rare gems, in modern and vibrant arrangements. The album features a host of dynamic Bay Area musicians including pianist Adam Shulman (Stefon Harris, Paula West, Mark Murphy), Smith Dobson on vibes (Ben Goldberg, Erik Jekabson), Mike Bordelon (bass), James Gallagher (drums), Jay Stapleton (guitar), and Riley Bandy (sax). Sugar & Smoke showcases Carsillo’s vocal and emotional range with tunes like the vivacious Sergio Mendes classic “Cinnamon & Clove,” her wistful and dreamy “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” and the standard “The Thrill is Gone” reworked as an urgent jazz waltz. “Sugar & Smoke is a constant delight,” said Jazz historian and writer Scott Yanow.

Carsillo has spent more than a decade as the vocalist (aka Lola Bombay) for Project: Pimento, a 60s lounge band whose lead instrument is the unique and captivating theremin. Project: Pimento blends songs from the cocktail-lounge cannon: James Bond themes, Mancini and Bacharach favorites, bossa nova, and swing.

Aside from countless Bay Area performances in clubs and venues such as The Great American Music Hall, Cafe du Nord, and Bruno’s, the band has performed in Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and Seattle and had the distinction of being nominated twice for an SF Weekly Award and performing at the SF Weekly Awards Show itself. Among other highlights, the band performed for the Regional EMMY Awards Show at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and at the San Jose Jazz Festival. Project: Pimento was featured in the island-life publication Tiki Magazine in Spring 2011.

The band has released two lounge/exotica CDs, Magical Moods of the Theremin and Space Age Love Songs. Jeff Berkwits in SCI-FI Magazine said “as Project: Pimento proves on their debut [CD], in the right hands the device still sounds fascinating and fresh. Inventive interpretations of 12 vintage tunes, including “Diamonds are Forever” and the Star Trek theme, sparkle with substance and style, adding a stirring, “space age bachelor pad” patina to a thoroughly intoxicating collection.”

Carsillo’s vocal sophistication and range of experience allow her to connect with her audience and leave an indelible impression. Audience members often comment after a show that they feel as though she has been singing directly to them. Carsillo’s interpretation of jazz has an ageless appeal. Her audiences are often filled with people of different backgrounds and musical tastes.

With a vivacious and dynamic musical sense, Lori Carsillo is a compelling force in the world of jazz. Scott Yanow, jazz historian and author, observes, “Lori floats above ensembles, digs deep into the words that she interprets, and usually has a smile in her voice. The effect is consistently intoxicating.”

Rave Reviews

  • ...With a lovely voice, superb phrasing, an impressive range...
    Christopher Loudon
    JazzTimes

  • Savvy Bay Area ingenue, turns a deft phrase, sweetly reworks melodies and convincingly touches 10 standards.
    Downbeat Magazine

  • San Francisco-based vocalist Lori Carsillo chose some of the Bay Area's best - and most under-appreciated - musicians for her moody debut CD, Bittersweet (Tru Blu Lu Records). Composer Cole Porter probably never envisioned Carsillo’s seductive delivery on his “Get Out of Town.”
    Jazziz Magazine

  • Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Lori Carsillo has a simple and direct delivery, a coolly sensuous voice, and an improvising style that is quite subtle. Her choice of notes is excellent, she swings at all tempos. One suspects that a lot more is going to be heard from Lori Carsillo in the future.
    Scott Yanow
    L.A. Jazz Scene

  • This singer has a smoky, sensuous feeling accentuated by the wonderful choices of ballads and love songs.
    Michael Handler
    Jazz West

  • Lori Carsillo has a winning combination of natural talent, warmth, and wit.
    Kitty Margolis
    Jazz Singer