Toronto based singer Melissa Lauren and jazz guitarist Nathan Hiltz have been performing, writing and recording together for the better part of ten years. With similar and complimentary styles, the musical pairing is a natural one; The music: their own brand of old school jazz, Do-wap and blues mixed with indie pop inflections and sounds.
After a decade of professional paring in a variety of settings and bands, the two became partners in life, had a baby and married. The two are finally collaborating together in a duo format. Their soon to be released album, is being treated as true record: one side originals, showcasing Melissa’s folky pop dreamworld, the other, standards, in which Nathan’s virtuosic comfort in jazz and it’s idioms shines. While some songs will showcase the duo raw and unaccompanied, others feature the intuitive talents of Tyler Emond on bass and Ben Riley on drums.
The duo have a collective thirty plus years of performance experience. Both have worked with an impressive roster of Canadian talent,and toured North America extensively. The live show is charming, and calls people from all walks of life to trust their hearts to Lauren’s frank yet soothing word puzzles, and Hiltz’ deep grounding in rich harmony and supportive groove. The touring format will include bass and drums for larger stages and festivals.
With a strong influence in jazz and blues, Melissa has developed an original style of her own melting together old school sounds with modern flare. Her latest album, "Your Mess" was released in October to quick charting and radio play across Canada. The first single I released in Canada, “Send Them Away,” was song of the week on CBC radio in Toronto, and has been nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award.
The singer’s love for swing and jazz music began when she started performing with the Toronto All-Star Big Band as a young teen. She had the opportunity to work with and open for many wonderful musicians; Jeff Healey, Gordon Lightfoot, Renee Lee, Henry Questa, Tommy Ambrose, Peter Appleyard, Buddy DiFranco, Jackie Richardson, and Clark Terry to name a few. Melissa is debuts a slightly edgier and mature sound on the new project, “Your Mess.” After spending early adulthood immersed in the Toronto club scene, and working with DJs, producers and different Indie pop bands, she ventured away from jazz a little in her songwriting.
She has performed as part of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, Beaches International Jazz Festival, Markahm Jazz Festival, and Oakville Jazz Festival as well as Canadian Music Week and North By North East. While Touring Canada has become a constant, she was thrilled to debut in Europe this Spring with shows in Germany, Hungary, Netherlands and Poland. 2017 also brought a nomination for the Stingray Rising Star award at the Halifax Jazz Festival.
Nathan Hiltz (B.Mus, M.Mus) is a Juno winning jazz guitarist who was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Based in Toronto since 1999, he attended Humber College and The University of Toronto. He studied jazz guitar with Reg Schwager, Jim Hall, Adam Rogers and many others. Over the course of his professional career he has played on over 25 albums and toured extensively across Canada. Nathan is a mentor to many aspiring guitarists from his home teaching studio and as a part time faculty member at Humber College. He is also the co-founder of the critically acclaimed Griffith Hiltz Trio. His Hammond B3 quartet project Organic has held down a residency for over 6 years at the popular nightclub/rib joint Joe Mamas in the heart of Toronto’s theater district. Their debut album, ‘Live At Joe Mamas’, was released in 2013 at The Rex Hotel. Nathan performed with Alex Dean, Bernie Senensky, Terra Hazelton, Brandi Disterheft, Ryan Oliver, Johnny Griffith, Jill Barber and Patrick Boyle to name a few.
Lauren and Hiltz first combined song-writing efforts on the singer’s debut album, “The Other Side” on which they co-wrote three of the tracks, all of which received critic praise and radio support.