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Jesse Palter

2023 Jazz Road Creatives

Jesse Palter

Recipient Information


Huntington Woods, Michigan

Year of Award


Grant or Fellowship

Jazz Road Creative Residencies Grant

Grant Amount


This residency aims to introduce children to the language of jazz and improvisation in a family-friendly capacity. The project will bring together jazz musicians from LA & Detroit, who are also parents, to create a record of jazz-inspired children's music. The writing of the project will take place in August 2023 in northern MI. The funds will be used to rent an inspiring and creative space to write and collaborate on the music and to record the final product.

About the Artist

During the 2020 lockdown, Jesse Palter, a versatile artist known for her jazz and pop music, stayed positive by creating a home recording rig to record a few singles inspired by the pandemic. Collaborating with her friend Jake Bass, they finalized two soulful and upbeat tracks called "Better Days" and "2020 Vision."

Jesse also decided to release her jazz album titled "Nothing Standard," which had been postponed when she signed with Artistry Music/Mack Avenue as a pop/rock artist. She saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with her roots and present a sincere work to her loyal fans.

"Nothing Standard" consists of eight original songs written by Jesse, along with reimagined versions of "Happiness" and "Hey Jude." Produced by Jesse and Chris Dunn, the album features a stellar rhythm section comprising pianist Michael Jellick and bassist Ben Williams, who were part of Jesse's original Detroit-based quartet. Drummer Gregory Hutchinson, one of Jesse's musical heroes, also joined the trio. The goal during the studio recording was to capture the essence of the songs and leave room for the listener's inspiration.

Despite being known as an indie pop artist, Jesse's foundation as a jazz performer is an essential part of her identity. She started as a musical theatre kid and studied jazz at the University of Michigan, where she honed her skills and won awards with The Jesse Palter Quartet. She had the privilege of participating in Christian McBride's Jazz Aspen program and performing with renowned musicians. Later, she embarked on tours and formed the pop, jazz, and soul duo Palter Ego with keyboardist Sam Barsh.

Jesse's music on "Nothing Standard" reflects her early days in Detroit, where she was exposed to both jazz and pop music. Influenced by jazz legends such as Betty Carter, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday, as well as artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Hartman, Jesse aims to write songs with the intelligence, depth, and timelessness of the Great American Songbook. The album features a range of compositions, from lively tracks like "Dealin' With You (You Better Know)" to poignant narratives like "Small Not Tall."

For Jesse, the pandemic pause provided an opportunity to reconsider her artistic path. Releasing "Nothing Standard" allows her to acknowledge her musical origins and embrace the artist she was destined to be. Jesse's journey towards authenticity may not have followed a straight line, but she believes that the messy, beautiful scribble is what makes the journey worthwhile.