George Gershwin once said, “Life is a lot like jazz … it’s best when you improvise.” Husband-and-wife jazz performers Luca Soul (Rosenfeld), a double bassist, and Kelly Green, a pianist and vocalist, who make up Green Soul, are great at improvising.
The sizzling, Queens-based musical duo joined creative forces to form “Green Soul” in the spring of 2019, and have been making soulful music together ever since, playing many venues in New York City and abroad, while performing alongside a myriad of world class musicians in different instrumentations.
Enjoying their bohemian lifestyle, the couple does weekly shows these days — as a duo, or as a trio with the occasional addition of drums — in clubs and restaurants in Forest Hills. Some of the venues they perform at in Forest Hills include Dylan’s on Metropolitan Avenue (Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m.) and White Radish on Ascan Avenue (Sundays from 6 to 9 p.m.). They also perform in Manhattan at Fine & Rare (Monday evenings) and Flatiron Room (Friday evenings).
They also both teach lessons out of their home studio in Forest Hills.
“We never allowed the pandemic to break our stride and keep us from practicing, playing, performing music and doing what we love,” Rosenfeld, 29, said. “We are extremely fortunate to be married, to live and to play together, because we motivate each other to stay in shape and maintain our craft and our art.”
A native New Yorker and the son of a painter and a bass baritone singer, young Luca Soul began studying music at age 8 when he took up the guitar. By age 14, his attention turned toward the acoustic bass, while attending the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, where he played in the big band and the symphonic orchestra.
The passionate artist, who said he’s heavily influenced by jazz artists Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Israel Crosby, among others, has toured with various ensembles in Switzerland, Greece, Spain, France, Belgium, South Korea and New Zealand. Since 2015, he has curated and produced an underground concert series in Manhattan, at The Treehouse, an interdisciplinary art space near Union Square. He also leads The Luca Soul Trio.
“Many musicians found themselves in a very bleak and isolating period, especially in the first six to eight months of the pandemic. Not being able to play with other musicians in the same room can be detrimental to development, especially when the emphasis is on improvisation. Presence and social interaction are crucial to the art form,” Rosenfeld said.
So, the couple improvised.
“With everything closed we had to get creative with how to support ourselves,” said Green, 31, noting that they had the opportunity to do a handful of sponsored live stream concerts from home, so jazz lovers could experience their original compositions, jazz standards and arrangements from the great American songbook, as well as classical pieces and free improvisations.
“When the weather was with us, we would also go under the LIRR overpass on Ascan Avenue and do a couple of hours of busking,” Green said. “This allowed us to meet a lot of new neighbors and connect with real people out in the world — something that everyone was starved for in those times.”
Green, a Florida native, became interested in playing jazz at age 11. In her senior year of high school, she recorded and produced her own album of 12 original songs called “Aspire.” She kept honing her craft and before long, the talented songstress would be performing at hot jazz clubs around Manhattan, such as the Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland and the Apollo Theater.
In 2019, The Kelly Green Trio performed at the Kennedy Center as part of the DC Jazz Festival to honor the Centennial of the great Nat King Cole. The honey-voiced crooner is one of several jazz greats that Green is heavily influenced by, while other favorites include Shirley Horn and Thelonius Monk.
Eventually, the daring duo would start spreading some soul in popular spots around their neighborhood.
For the last two summers, folks would gather to watch them perform at several private outdoor concerts celebrating the Summer Solstice, in beautiful Forest Hills Gardens. Guests sat on socially distanced beach chairs and blankets, brought their own refreshments, and had the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor jazz festival experience right in their neighborhood.
And the songbirds’ creative juices just kept flowing.
“After getting married on Aug. 11, 2020, we acquired a beautiful Steinway baby grand piano and converted our large living room into a music studio. We hung curtains, paintings by local artist Hilary Mance, and did some soundproofing. It now functions as a recording studio, teaching studio, art gallery and an intimate DIY venue called Green Soul Studios,” Rosenfeld said.
Then, Green Soul — who toured Europe in the summer of 2019, while collaborating with various musicians along the way — decided to host a series of private, invite-only concerts in their living room. Those jazz soirees took place between autumn of 2020 and February 2021.
“One day, we decided that we were going to take things into our own hands and use the resources that were available to us to carve out our own lane. This has been our project ever since,” Green added.
Green said they served fresh, home-cooked dinner made with ingredients from farmer’s market, allowed guests to bring their own drinks, and put on a specially curated performance.
“It became a special in-the-know, speakeasy, secret supper club-style happening here in Forest Hills,” Green said. “With people being so starved for live music, art and human connection during the thick months of the pandemic, it provided an outlet for us to do what we love and feel truly received and appreciated.”
And the couple agreed that with these challenging times and what the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has done to the performing arts, “this was and is a true blessing, and a worthy project to sustain.”
The Green Soul Studios Concert Series will resume this fall with a special “Couples in Jazz Series,” featuring other respected couples in the NYC jazz community.
The events will be held Thursdays, 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 7, Oct. 21 and Nov. 4, with more dates to-be-announced. For more information, those interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For their weekly performance schedule, visit kellygreenpiano.com/calendar.