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The Sound

Copland comes home all jazzed up

7/10/2013

Roxi Copland plays Jazz in July at the Sylvan Theater in Greenwood Park on Friday, July 12.

Roxi Copland plays Jazz in July at the Sylvan Theater in Greenwood Park on Friday, July 12.

Big Things were in the offing for Roxi Copland when we last spoke. Thirteen months ago, Copland was on the cusp of relocating from Vancouver, B.C., back to the Midwest (this time trading the pastoral vistas of Iowa for the unkempt wilds of Wisconsin). She was also in the process of unveiling a new album, 2012’s “Pretty Lies.” The album featured some of Copland’s most intimate work to date, eschewing the comforts of a full band for the naked embrace of a lone baby grand, shifting the focus completely onto her voice — an instrument that was fully up to the extra load.

“(Pretty Lies) was a huge departure,” Copland concurred in an interview from Milwaukee. “The next album will get back to the full-band sound. It’s actually going to be my first full-length, full band studio album.”

The new album (a still unnamed project) has been Copland’s primary focus for the past several months. When she’s not keeping to her hectic tour schedule, Copland has been writing songs in preparation for getting back into the studio late this fall — her own high standards allowing.

“I’m a perfectionist,” Copland admitted. “(I) can’t churn out a song in a couple of hours and just leave it. I’m always looking for ways to tweak it here and there, so writing (a whole album) is always a process.”

This process has not been made easier by Copland’s schedule. She tours extensively whenever she’s able and plans to log several thousand more miles this summer on a tour schedule that includes some 50 different stops. Des Moines is always in Copland’s mix, and July is no exception, as she returns to the capital city for the Metro Arts Alliance’s Jazz in July series.

“Metro Arts asked me if I would use a small portion of my performance to recognize some of the leading ladies of jazz, which I was happy to do,” Copland said. “So I’m going to be playing songs in tribute to Billy Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones and Nina Simone, as well as some of my older songs and unveiling a couple of my new tracks.”

The writing and touring and promoting, not to be forgotten, is all taking place while Copland is working to invest herself in a new local music scene once again.

“There are positive and negative things about (moving around),” she confessed. “I now know musicians all over the place. Wherever I go, I can stop in and say hi and see great music and know people. But when you move to a new scene, you’ve made all these connections that are no longer there.”

But Copland’s reputation now precedes her, and the move to Milwaukee, where her husband works at the University of Wisconsin, was not a complete reset for her.

“I’d already had a number of connections here and in Chicago,” she said. “It was much easier than, say, moving to Des Moines, when I’d just graduated from college and didn’t know anybody.”

But Copland has fond memories of her time as a part of the central Iowa scene’s family and still considers herself a Des Moines native, by way of Aberdeen, Wash.

“Des Moines is still very special for me,” she said. “Every time I come back, I have a fantastic time. The people are just amazing. I will always consider Des Moines a second home, and I’ll always do my best to make sure Des Moines is on the tour route.” CV

Chad Taylor is an award-winning news journalist and music writer from Des Moines.

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