Sunday, May 1, 2016

Vocal CD of the Month - "Jackie Gage: Siren Songs"

Vocal CD of the Month
Jackie Gage: "Siren Songs" (First Orbit Sounds FOSM 282) 2016

Rating: **** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Jackie Gage
Recorded by Scott Bergstrom @ 25th Street Recording (Oakland, CA) & Matt Young @ The Press Recording Studio (Stockton, CA)
Mixed by Adam Muñoz @ Fantasy Studios (Berkeley, CA)
Mastered by Ken Lee @ Ken Lee Mastering (Oakland, CA)
Featuring: Timothy Wat (piano), John Shifflett (bass), Jason Lewis (drums) and Dillon Vado (marimba)

"Siren Songs," a beautiful debut from singer Jackie Gage (what a gorgeous voice!), places classic torch songs alongside sultry originals. The theme interweaves the story of unrequited love within the music. And with original pieces like “It’s Your Love”—a marimba-driven song apprehensively dreaming for the affection of a significant other—to “Mine”, a tale of the woman pushing the boundaries of love, adorned by a string section that also appears on "Serves Me Right" and "Sweet," the latter with a hip-hop vibe. Gage sets the stage for the modern-day siren. The tremendously talented singer, gifted with a warm & velvety voice, also gives new life to the jazz classic "Afro Blue" (turning upside down the famous tune by master conguero Mongo Santamaria, almost unrecognizable) and the standard "That Old Black Magic" (Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer).

Recorded at 25th Street Studio in Oakland, this album’s musicality is anchored by master players John Shifflett (Boz Scaggs, Anton Schwartz, Kurt Elling) and Jason Lewis (Boz Scaggs, Taylor Eigsti, James Moody). Pianist and longtime friend Timothy Wat adds a unique, minimalistic spice to the music. Young talent Dillon Vado’s subtle marimba heightens the rhythm—a unique instrument rarely recorded on modern jazz albums—and a string section arranged by Joshua Washington (The Juxtapositions Chamber Ensemble) appears on three tracks, featuring violinists Ilana Thomas and Kristina Dutton, violist Su Buchignani and cellist Freya Seeburger.

Channeling torch singers of decades past, the San Jose native marks her arrival with a refined blend of sultry originals alongside newly arranged classic songs that showcases her dynamic range with hints of R&B, soul and jazz.

Based on the concept on the ancient idea of a siren, the womanly figure who lures desperate sailors into treacherous waters, “Siren Songs” takes listeners on an emotive journey of love and loss, and passion and intrigue over the course of nine songs that range from pining love stories to haunting ballads. In her native San Jose, Gage was the self-described “designated torch singer” adding, “that identity fueled this debut.”

Gage, who recently relocated to New York City, has firmly made her mark in her home state with annual tours from Sacramento to San Diego. As a 2014 Jazz Search West finalist, she was awarded performances at nationally recognized venues Yoshi’s Oakland, the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley and the Sound Room in Oakland. In addition, she has performed at the Fillmore Jazz Festival, San Jose Summer Fest and Berkeley Juneteeth, among others.

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