Elena Sonenshine

vocalist, arranger, lyricist, composer. Born and raised in Brno, Czech Republic. Elena began singing in grade school. After finishing high school she moved to Prague, studied social law and then went on to the Jaroslav Jezek Conservatory of Music (1989-1994). Elena was awarded a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she furthered her music studies.

While in school she began gigging in and around Prague and in 1993 was featured in a radio show with Big Band Radio Praha. Elena also joined the Causa Bibendi Orchestra. Causa Bibendi won acclaim for its innovative arrangements of 1920s and 1930s jazz for string instruments. Elena performed with Causa Bibendi at venues and festivals in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Switzerland. She recorded two CDs with Causa Bibendi (Opus One, 1993 and Modrý Svět, 1996) and also frequently appeared on Czech TV and radio.

Elena's work in modern jazz started in 1992, when she began performing in Prague's jazz clubs as a guest vocalist with various trios and quartets. She recorded a CD with Twin Q in 1994 (TwinQ + Elena) and soon went on to found her own band, JocoseJazz. The band includes vibraphone, bass, guitar and drums, and on occasion, a guest trumpetist. JocoseJazz plays mainly original compositions as well as its own arrangements of standards and jazz versions of folk songs. Elena has been performing regularly with JocoseJazz since 1996 at jazz clubs and festivals in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany.

Elena recorded her solo debut album, "You Go To My Head," in 2001. The album includes standards and original compositions by Elena, guitarist Mirek Linka and British bassist Jerome Davies. Guest soloists complementing Elena's trio on various tracks throughout the CD include some of the Czech Republic's top musicians, such as František Kucera on trumpet, František Kop on saxophone, Radek Krampl on vibraphone, and Radek Rybař on violin. The album also features Mexican pianist Mark Aanderud. Czech music critics voted the album the second best Czech jazz release of 2001. The CD also was well received in the United States and in early 2003 was among the top 50 most played jazz CDs in the JazzWeek radio charts. Elena performed music from this CD as well as some of he original compositions at a special performance at the Czech Embassy in Washington DC as part of a series of events to commemorate the establishment of the Czech and Slovak Republics.

In 2005 Elena performed at the invitation of Czech President Vaclav Klaus as a soloist in the President's Jazz at the Castle Concert series. The concert was recorded and a CD released under the MultiSonic record label. In the beginning of 2008 Elena performed with other top Czech jazz musicians in a concert at the Prague Castle to celebrate the Jazz at the Castle Concert series and mark the end of the President's first term in office. The concert was recorded and CD will be released later this year.

Elena was honored to have performed in the well known Prague Spring Music Festival as one of the artists presenting series of concerts featuring modern popular music. She was also the Czech Ambassador of the Phillips Jazz Festival 2005 and toured the Czech Republic with a series of concerts to promote this Festival.

Elena dedicates herself in support of charities. Her music was featured on a CD sold to benefit the Shriners Children's Hospitals in the United States. Following the tragic Tsunami of 2006 Elena was among the musicians organizing a concert to benefit tsunami victims.

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