The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen

Join us for a special matinee performance of The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen at the Nashville Jazz Workshop in the Jazz Cave on Saturday, August 19, 2023. This phenomenal performance will feature Liz Johnson and Joe Freel on vocals, Lori Mechem on piano, Roger Spencer on bass and Larry Aberman on drums.  The concert begins at 3:00pm CDT (Doors at 2:30 pm).

LIVE PERFORMANCE TICKETS ($40) – NEW add a charcuterie box on Eventbrite with your ticket, more details here.

LIZ JOHNSON: Liz Johnson is a vocologist and voice teacher based in Nashville, TN. She practices voice habilitation with people from all over the world, and blends her training in psychology, jazz, and voice science to offer clients a balanced and holistic approach to vocal health.

An Illinois native, Liz began her musical study at age 6 with piano and moved to flute and then alto saxophone in high school and college, playing in local jazz bands. After college she moved to Nashville, where she found the Nashville Jazz Workshop and began several years of intensive study of voice and improvisation. She moved from student to accomplished performer and jazz artist, performing regularly in Nashville and around the country.

In 2004 Liz was invited to perform at the Montreux Switzerland Jazz Festival as a semi finalist in the international vocal jazz competition. She has been featured on the nationally syndicated jazz radio program Jazz with Bob Parlocha, and has sung in cities across the US.

JOE FREEL: From his first role at ten years old as the lead character, Tom, in his elementary school’s production of “Tom Sawyer,” vocalist Joe Freel progressed to significant performances while earning a Bachelor of Music degree from Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music. Between Tom Sawyer and Berklee were musical theatre, wedding and rock bands, madrigal groups and jazz club appearances. Freel has dedicated his life to the pursuit of excellence in vocal performance. For the past six years, Freel’s appearances at the renown Nashville Jazz Workshop have resulted in a significant group of fans and colleagues who resonate with the quality of his musicianship. His energetic but soothing vocal delivery, punctuated with a candid sense of humor both on and off stage, create long remembered performances. Freel’s primary vocal influences are Al Jarreau, Mark Murphy, Little Jimmy Scott and Tony Bennett.

His personal sound is a unique blend of jazz, pop and intimate speech level singing. Freel’s December 2016 album release, titled “All This Love,” features exciting jazz arrangements of classic pop love songs and fresh covers of jazz standards with one original song containing lyrics written by Freel and music composed by jazz pianist Joe Davidian. The album was co-produced by Nashville Jazz Workshop co-founders, Roger Spencer and Lori Mechem, with featured performances by bassist Spencer, pianists Mechem and Davidian, drummer Joshua Hunt, saxophonist Evan Cobb, and percussionist Dann Sherrill.


LARRY ABERMAN: Larry Aberman is a drummer whose career has taken him from the stage of Avery Fisher Hall as a percussion soloist with the NY Philharmonic to the studios of Memphis to record the Grammy-winning CD “Family Style” with Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan. Since 2003 Larry has been in Las Vegas performing with Cirque du Soleil in the hit show Zumanity at the New York New York Hotel and Casino. He is an adjunct professor of applied drum set at UNLV as well as a sub percussionist for the Las Vegas Philharmonic. He continues to compose and record drums remotely via the web for numerous album, TV and film projects. Larry cites Sterling Campbell, Charley Drayton, Brian Blade, Elvin Jones, Stewart Copeland, Steve Jordan, Amir ?Love Thompson and Al Foster among his main drumming influences.


LORI MECHEM: A respected jazz pianist, composer and educator, Lori, along with her husband Roger Spencer, has lived in the Nashville area since 1988. In addition to directing production shows and conducting musical theatre, she has performed with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Red Holloway, Jimmy Smith, Cal Collins, Roy McCurdy, Terry Gibbs, Pete Christlieb, Edie Gorme, Bobby Militello, Kirk Whalum and Donna McElroy. A native of Anderson Indiana, Lori received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

Lori’s first CD, “Welcome to Brazil” was nominated for “Best Jazz Album of the Year” by the Nashville Music Awards in 1997. In 2003, Lori’s second CD, “Shiny Stockings, rose to #26 on the jazz charts. In 2005 she released a Brazilian Christmas album on Village Square Music. Since then she has released three more CD’s: “April in Paris” (a second Count Basie album), “The Dream of Life” (original meditation music), and “Return to Ipanema.”

ROGER SPENCER: Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Roger has had an extensive musical career. He has performed, traveled and recorded with such artists as Les Brown and His Band of Renown, Harry James, Rosemary Clooney, Sam Butera, Tony Bennett, Ray Conniff, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Terry Gibbs, Buddy DeFranco and Carl Fontana. He and his wife Lori Mechem moved to Nashville in 1988 where he records, performs, and teaches. Roger attended Indiana University, studying under David Baker in Jazz Studies, and graduated from Indiana State with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Besides performing and recording with Lori, Roger is a longtime member of the Beegie Adair Trio, and is also on the faculty at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. Roger and Lori founded and direct the Nashville Jazz Workshop, where Roger is Artistic Director.