ESSENCE - by Ingrid James
The popular and award winning jazz singer from Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, Australia, has taken a new approach with this stunning new CD of Jazz favourites aimed squarely at a 21 st Century audience.
"The song list suggests yet another safe set of standards. The reality is much more about life on the edge, about chances taken and pulled off with panache. Brisbane's Ingrid James is a fearless and gifted jazz singer for whom the songs are there to be teased, flirted with and then milked for all their improvisational potential. Sydney's brilliant Adrian Cunningham (reeds) and Matt Baker (piano) join James's fellow Queenslanders Owen Newcomb and John Parker in taking the likes of "You don't know what love is" and "Love for Sale" on a return to the wild side."
John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald
This turns out to be a recital by a fully integrated quintet of improvisatory travelers, not adverse to eschewing main roads for cross country forays. Ms. James uses song materials for her own improvisatory ends, without surrendering the vital signs thereof. I'm penciling this one in as an early probable for my 2005 "best ten" list. It comes as a most challenging and welcome vocal surprise.
Alan Bargebuhr, CD review, Cadence Magazine, New York
Ingrid James is a fearless and gifted jazz singer for whom the songs are there to be teased, flirted with and milked for all their improvisational potential. [Her latest CD] is much more about life on the edge, about chances taken and pulled off with panache.
John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, 2005
Joao da Penha, Brazilian journalist, author & music critic
"If a great musician (and a great singer is a great musician) is 'a person who can keep time', Ingrid James is a great musician. Do you need proof, then please listen to her marvellous new album 'Essence'.Ms. James is a jazz singer, a superb jazz singer, I say. But she has a special affinity for Brazilian music. Pay close attention to Jobim & Vinicius de Moraes' 'Chega de Saudade' (No More Blues). She sings this wonderful song with an unmistakably personal approach, with a sound that does not belong to anyone else. A swinging bossa nova singer, but she is also well-equipped to bring out the full beauty of the lyrics. In other words: a vocalist who can improvise on the melody while giving the emotion of a lyric. Her interpretation is sensual (listen to 'Love for Sale'). Her voice is velvet-smooth (listen to 'My Funny Valentine'). In short: Ingrid James is one of the best voices Australia has ever produced. 'Essence' is a reunion of a superb female singer with a contingent of gifted musicians. Artists to the delight of audiences all over the world.
Lay back, put up your feet, close your eyes, and enter a classic jazz club from the mid 50's as you listen to Ingrid James new CD "Essence."
Ingrid James of Brisbane, Australia brings her eloquent vocals to this familiar ten-song set. She is able to move seamlessly between songs by songwriters who are diverse, and by adding her own heart felt vocals the songs are completely reformed.
The sounds of these songs will have listeners wondering if they are really hearing old classics or completely new songs. Renditions of songs are common; however when a vocalist such as Ingrid can make the song sound completely new you sometimes forget what the original even sounded like.
Ingrid's treatment of "You don't know what love is" is sultry and filled with passionate vocals. Sounds of harmonized conversations with the instrumentalists takes place as Ingrid's passionate long notes are kept streaming from instrument to instrument.
The rendition of "Love for Sale" is one to keep your ears open for. All the instruments are combined together as her vocals stand out with a deep intensity.
While listening to this CD you would think that the band had been together for many years; however the truth is this album required no rehearsals. The melodic sounds of Adrian Cunningham's tenor saxophone, flute, and clarinet add a spicy flavor to each song as
no other saxophonist or clarinetist can. His unique sound is one that can be recognized instantly. Matt Baker adds his amazing pianist talents to this album, sounding more subtle, and played with more finesse than any piano session you have heard before.
A beautiful rendition of "My Funny Valentine" highlights the talent that flows from his fingers. Owen Newcomb on acoustic bass is smooth. He keeps the bands rhythm jumping in "I'm old Fashioned," and going smoothly throughout the other songs.
John Parker on drums and percussion wraps around this amazing group of talent, keeping it together as he sits in the background throughout each song.
For something classic and familiar, yet at the same time modern and new the CD "Essence" is a must have.
To purchase this CD or to read more about Ingrid James visit: www.ingridjames.com
Aparna Datta - US Music Journalist
(Extracts from a feature story - "Essence" CD)
"With so many singers putting out CD's before they are genuinely ready to immortalise their work, it's refreshing to listen to Ingrid James and her sense of swing, her accuracy, her fresh approach, her maturity."
"What happened was that Ingrid went from being a technically accomplished singer with a 3 octave range, to becoming a musician. Now it was not enough to hit the notes right on pitch and breathe at the right moments. Now she was crossing bar lines, going up where others would go down, exploring new and daring harmonic possibilities. Now she could safely avoid parroting precisely the notes which the composer gave us - she was interpreting and give of herself. It's called being an artist.
Ingrid's journey has seen more than just the predictable stops along the way. There's her years as a TV director with the ABC, and valuable experience singing in groups (ideal for learning how to intelligently interact with the instrumentalists you share the stage with, a skill Ingrid has mastered). She's also enjoyed those intangibles that help develop artistic expression, life experiences like raising children and watching an intimate relationship grow. Now she's a full-time singer, a jazz identity complete with a recording, interstate tours, maybe foreign jazz festivals before too long."
STEVE ROBERTSON - Presenter "Jazz on Saturday" Melbourne
On Ingrid's new release Essence (Newmarket CD), it's clear that she is a listener as well as a performer. She interacts superbly with her sax and flute player Adrian Cunningham, who sometimes sounds even more inspired and disciplined on Ingrid's recording than on the recent Newmarket CD under his own name. Bassist Owen Newcomb and drummer John Parker are clearly relaxed and confident working with Ingrid, hence the faultless rhythm throughout.
Special praised, though, should be reserved for pianist Matt Baker, who, like Ingrid, is a chance-taker, the high wire walker who sways a bit as he crosses the chasm but always comes out fine at the other end. This album and his live work provide indisputable evidence that Baker is rapidly moving towards membership of that elite of Australia pianists which already includes Tony Gould, Joe Chindamo, Mark Isaacs and Mark Fitzgibbon....
Noel Mengel - Journalist -"Courier-Mail" Brisbane, Australia
While jazz buffs will be familiar with standards from Cole Porter (Love for Sale), the Gershwins (But Not for Me) and Hart and Rogers (My Funny Valentine), they won't have heard them given such inventive treatments for some time... It's an album which stretches the ballad form thanks to James's sensual voice and the interplay of four of the finest players in Australian jazz...Look no further than a sizzling 10-minute interpretation of "I Thought about You" on which James's impeccable phrasing fits hand-in-glove with [Matt] Baker's extrapolations...."
23/4/05 SINGER FINDS JAZZ ESSENCE
The songlist suggests yet another safe set of standards. The reality is much more about life on the edge, about chances taken and pulled off with panache. Brisbane's Ingrid James is a fearless and gifted jazz singer for whom the songs are there to be teased, flirted with and then milked for all their improvisational poential. Sydney's brilliant Adrian Cunningham (reeds) and Matt Baker (piano) join James's fellow Queenslanders Owen Newcomb and John Parker in taking the likes of "You don't know what love is" and "Love for Sale" on a return to the wild side.
John Shand - SYDNEY MORNING HERALD - CD REVIEW 3/6/05
At a time when so many singers rely on cliched embellishment, it comes almost as a shock to hear lyrics delivered with directness and clarity. Ingrid James brings the listener to the inner essence. It's deju vu in reverse.
You've probably heard these songs before - but never like this. Thoughtful, inventive and, above all, swinging, Ingrid squeezes every line for nuance and meaning. The impeccable phrasing and accurate intonation come almost as a bonus.
On this CD, she is backed by four of Australia's stellar instrumental talents - pianist Matt Baker, bassist Owen newcomb, reedman Adrian Cunningham and drummer John Parker. The combination owes its genesis to 2004's Noosa Jazz Party where Ingrid's impromptu set with Sydney-based Matt and Adrian went so well that she asked them to record with her. Brisbane players Owen and John completed the studio lineup - and here is the result: familiar, much-loved standards bursting with fresh energy and spontaneity.
To hear Ingrid's subtle yet authoritative reading of My Funny Valentine is to realise how shabbily this venerable old jazz standard has been treated by lesser singers. Elsewhere on the album, Ingrid revisits the near-forgotten verse to But Not for Me, and also revives Georgie Fame's vocalese chorus from a solo by the late trumpeter Chet Baker.
Love for Sale takes the listener into exotic territory. A bazaar in Morocco, perhaps.with Cunningham as snake charmer and Baker plucking sounds directly from his piano strings.
This is jazz for a new millenium - but don't just read about it. Put it on your CD deck and listen. You'll be glad you did.
Dave Bentley (jazz musician/journalist)
The nature of good jazz demands good chemistry between its performers and this recording is a fine example of how musicians, many of whom had only enjoyed chance meetings to this point, can come together and create something truly wonderful.
This music transcends the need to debate styles or influences and comes across as a purity of thought drawing in the listener. It has a raw energy only known to music created spontaneously yet refined well beyond what one would expect from a recording that was performed live in the studio.
My first response after listening to this recording was to play it again. Not only does it sound completely fresh on subsequent playings, but you will then discover many new and subtle nuances that entice you further each time. This music is a beautiful experience - savour it well and enjoy the "Essence" of a real alchemy.
John Morrison - January 2005
Australian singer, Ingrid James has a voice that reminds me of eating chocolate: rich, dark and smooth. This is a really different vocal album, recorded live in the studio with a lot of energy and spontaneity.
Trudy Kerr, jazz singer, London 2005
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