Colours of Your Love
WILD SILK STRINGS PROJECT
"A thrilling journey…executed with consummate skill and artistry"
Peter Churchill, Professor Jazz Composition, Royal Academy Music, (UK)
"A killer line-up"
Adrian Cunningham, Multi-instrumentalist (New York)
"Ingrid James" voice and musical choices on the AAA Wild Silk Strings Project are exquisite”
Denise Donatelli, Multi-grammy nominated jazz vocalists (USA)
“The intriguing thing about Ingrid James is that, where many other singers with such a well-established reputation would be content to rest on their laurels, she is constantly seeking ways to re-contextualise herself. Just when you think you have an idea of the sort of singer she is, she dreams up a new project to frame her beautiful voice and you find yourself forced to listen to her with new ears. This wonderful new cross-cultural project is the result of a highly successful collaboration between Ingrid and Louise Denson - and it proves to be the perfect vehicle for both of them to explore and expand on their shared musical interests.
The repertoire is broad and eclectic and yet is effortlessly bound together by the treatment it receives in this ensemble - so much so that one feels as though one is listening to a ‘suite’ rather than a simple compilation of tunes for an album. The ensemble, both through the sounds of the individual improvisers and the deft writing and arranging for the strings, brings a fresh ‘sound’ to the repertoire they have chosen to record. The rhythm section grooves are beautifully crafted to provide a solid underpinning for the string quartet textures and in turn, the front-line improvisers appear to dart in and out of the ensemble sound - sometimes appearing deep within the written textures and then emerging to provide a welcome improvised commentary to Ingrid’s narrative.
The song choice on this album gives some hint as to the broadness of Louise and Ingrid’s reach as musicians - and the fact that this album hangs together is a testament to their combined skills and their vision.
From the opening reworking of Eric Satie’s ‘Gnossienne No.1’ through to the Brazilian composer Geraldo Vandré’s ‘Tristeza De Amar’ - and then onwards to Carole King’s ‘It’s too Late’, Supertramp’s ‘Logical Song’ and Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘If you can read my mind’ - the listener is taken on a thrilling journey through an eclectic repertoire with a vast emotional landscape. The boldness and the variety of the song choices on this album means that the ‘sound-world’ has to be strong enough to bind it all together… and it certainly is. The personality of the writing and arranging behind this album makes sure of this and shines through on every track.
Ingrid James always chooses her lyrical narratives carefully and with the intimate and inventive framing of each song by Louise Denson and the ensemble, the complete package of this album delivers on so many levels. It is a real ‘album’ and it needs to be taken in its entirety if one is to appreciate the scope of the project. This is a great project, lovingly put together - as you would expect from musicians of this calibre - which has been executed with consummate skill and artistry”.
Pete Churchill, Professor Jazz Composition, Royal Academy of Music, London – singer/pianist/conductor
"Ever since 1961, when Stan Getz recorded the acclaimed album Focus with a string quintet, it's been more than just acceptable to make superb music by combining the talents of jazz musicians and a few 'legit' players. Now the bar has been raised with the welcome addition of one of the jazz world's most phenomenally gifted voices in Ingrid James, and the writing and pianistic talents of the ever-creative Louise Denson. Colours of Your Love is an appealing mix of 20th century popular melodies with highly attractive new works, music by Louise, lyrics by Ingrid. This is not their first collaboration: Their 2006 release called Portrait follows a similar formula of new plus familiar and is also a gem. What makes this new CD so special is the subtle yet highly effective incorporation of Latin rhythms on many of the tracks. All-ballad CDs can sometimes slip into a sleep-inducing rhythmic sameness but Colours holds your attention with ever-shifting time signatures and marvellously evocative word pictures to stimulate the imagination..".
Steve Robertson (Long-time jazz writer and host of Monday Night Jazz On Fleurieu FM in South Australia)
I’m in love with Ingrid James. There, I said it.
I love her voice, her timbre, her phrasing, her flair for improvisation, the way she builds up a high note, the way she gives meaning to lyrics. I think she can do no wrong. She can even get a perfect song and make it better. Having said that, I must admit that I prefer her work in small ensemble settings, which leave her more space to fill with her voice. The relatively sparse orchestration of a trio or quartet allows her to breathe and unfold her vocal range, play around with melodies, stretch ideas, present her artistry to full extent. That is not to say that she does not excel in larger ensembles; her two albums with the San Gabriel 7 (one of the most tightly-knit bands out there, with a trademark compact sound) demonstrate another aspect of her approach to music; her ability to blend in and become one with the band, stepping in and out of the spotlight, according to each song’s needs. The Wild Silk Strings Project, the fruit of her longtime collaboration with pianist, arranger and composer Louise Denson sits somewhere in between. The ensemble combines a typical jazz band – rhythm section (bassist Andrew Shaw and drummer Christopher Todd Harrison), saxophones (Paul Greggors White and Martin Kaye) and trumpet (Paul Armstrong) – with a string trio (Eugenie Costello-Shaw, Danielle Bentley and Richard Grantham).
Although not really common, this kind of orchestration is far from innovative. Usually though this sort of jazz-meets-classical setting leads to two types of approach: either having the string section juxtaposed to the ‘jazz’ section in a type of ‘edgy’ clash, all points and angles and thorns, or used to add a lush, fluffy and sugary-sweet element to the sound. Louise Denson does neither. Her brilliant arrangements see all the instruments seamlessly blended together, creating a firm, but not dense, sonic canvas for Ingrid James’ voice and Paul Greggors White’s sax to add their bold, bright colours. It’s not everyday that you get a string trio interact that well with a drummer, to the point of often sounding percussive themselves. Nikos Fotakis, Editor, Australiajazz.net
Album review: Colours of Your Love/Ingrid James
Posted: November 3, 2018 in Album review: jazz
With the new album Colours of Your Love, Brisbane jazz singer Ingrid James brings together a unique and multi-layered collaboration.
James has come together with pianist/composer/arranger Louise Denson and the 9-piece Wild Silk Strings Project to create something quite exquisite – 12 songs/arrangements ranging from Satie to Mongo to Supertramp with some lovely excursions into Afro-Cuban, Latin and the ballad form.
The Wild Silk Strings Project is a unique 9-piece hybrid of rhythm section and strings, with some horns added here and there for timbre and solos. Stan Getz‘s 1961 album with composer/arranger Eddie Sauter, Focus, is a touchstone, as I am sure are a number of jazz-plus-strings experiments between then and now.
As with all experiments, some worked, most didn’t – Denson’s arrangements work here beautifully as she appears to have approached them with a clarity of mind and a sharp – pardon the pun, Stan – focus. Also, As Sauter had Getz’s languid tenor to wrap his strings around, Denson is lucky to have Ingrid James’ clear and warm voice to swathe in hers. Gauze-like at times, as on lovely latin ballad, the Denson/James original ‘First Love’, or heat-haze-shimmering as on opener, Erik Satie‘s ‘Gnossienne No 1’.
Nowhere is this strings-by-numbers: Denson’s string arrangement on Mongo Santamaria‘s Cuban driver ‘Flame Tree’ is quite Gil Evans in its dissonances and tart flavours; whereas on K D Lang‘s ‘Constant Craving’ the ensemble behind James’ vocal draws out the lyric’s yearning through creative voicings. Paul White‘s tenor solo, together with James’ perfectly held reading of Lang’s 1992 song, make us believe it is the jazz standard we always knew it was.
The pop songs covered on Colours of Your Love are an intriguing choice that, for the most part, work. Supertramp‘s whimsical ‘Logical Song’ is taken at a 6/8 Afro clip, with the beat cut up cleverly to appear as a slow waltz for the middle eight. Carole King‘s ‘It’s Too Late’ suffers from a too-radical rethinking of the melody – the wistfulness of the lyric seems to be lost in the chop and change. Gordon Lightfoot‘s ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ always was a lovely song and always will be – Denson and James’ reading here can be added to the better interpretations of it.
But this is all devil’s detail – what I do love about Colours of Your Love is the overall feeling of breeziness and sunlight. Even though nowhere near a bossa nova album, I can feel the ozone off Ipanema and feel my skin warmed by it’s tropicalia. The yin is Ingid James’ eminently listenable voice – devoid of histrionics or flash, clear as a bell and velvety – and the yang is Louise Denson’s apt and sharp arrangements of the tunes – and of course the talents of The Wild Silk Strings Project themselves – all coming together so impeccably well.
Ingrid James’ website is https://www.ingridjames.com
John Hardaker, Wordsaboutmusic 3 November 2018
"Ingrid James & Louise Denson's Wild Silk Strings Project is a undertaking of no small measure. It’s a beautiful mix of exotic grooves and instrumentation with a killer line up of musicality. Ingrid’s voice dances through many familiar songs and original compositions like a breath of fresh air. The delicate backdrop of strings and horns ranging from the simmering to the exotic has an autumnal quality that envelops the listener. This music brings me to a place that’s both unexplored yet somehow familiar. A beautiful and bold exposition of music, and without doubt a successful creative collaboration”.
Adrian Cunningham (Sydney multi-instrumentalist/bandleader based in NY)
"Ingrid James is a true musician. Her voice and musical choices on The AAA Wild Strings Project are exquisite."
Denise Donatelli, multi-GRAMMY nominated jazz vocalist USA
“An impressive and innovative project for Ingrid James. Knowing and performing with Ingrid for 18 years now, I was very intrigued to hear how fresh an approach, yet again, she has given to this project. She has used her voice here not only as singer and instrument, but also as a sound. In what feels like a colourful sea of instrumentation and rhythm within some beautiful arrangements, it’s great to see her take risks with the sound and colour of her voice". Congratulations!
Matt Baker, pianist/composer, New York, July 2018
"Hi Ingrid, thanks for inviting me to comment on the latest CD project with Louise Denson - “Colours of your Love”. When I received it at 101FM, I had a quick look at the titles then took it straight into a fellow Presenter’s studio and he immediately put it to Air on an evening smooth Jazz program called “After Sunset”.
These actions are significant for a number of reasons. It’s never happened before in the 3 years we have been share-hosting this new program. And it’s not for the lack of music, with approximately 140,000 titles owned by us. We individually & carefully plan programs, so random inserts like this are rare to zero.
Ingrid, you are a known and recognised local talent, associated with Jazz venues around SE Qld - therefore your product is trusted. The track listing revealed some known popular songs and based on your treatment of similar tunes on past CD’s, we felt safe in playing it without a “first preview”.
Once to air, I suggested playing another interpretation of a known title. Again - terrific rendition. Three were played that night. That’s unheard of.
While most talented singers and musicians can pull off an album of Jazz favourites or a set of American Songbook styled numbers, not everyone can compose a new song that is playable…. twice.
In particular, the original “Wild December Wind” blows through my mind with a chilling thought. It has the wisp – the hint of a future Jazz Standard - I can easily envisage it as a perpetual thread woven through a movie. We can only hope for that to happen.
Ingrid and Louise, the Colours of Your Love album is above all, a radio friendly CD. An oft forgotten ingredient by other Jazz performers: simply the one of using familiar material as a platform to showcase fresh originals.
Be assured that it will easily get a regular airplay for years to come".
Stu Robertson, Jazz Radio Presenter, 101FM, Brisbane
“The opening track is sublime….then, the rest of the album gets even better! Every song is a gem”.
John Diegan, Jazz Radio Presenter, MBS Light
"I’m blown away by the music and musicianship to be honest. This is one class act!! I haven’t listened to the production closely, which is a positive, as it means it hasn’t gotten in the way....I like your inspiring tenor player. Very Breckerish. Love Brecker! And you [Ingrid James] sound gorgeous. Clear as a bell".
Martha Baartz, saxophonist/composer
"Wild Silk Strings Project is a body of work with an identity of its own due to the skillful writing and arranging of Louise Denson and the voice of Ingrid James. This album showcases a diverse repertoire that includes original compositions and covers of well-known pop tunes such as 'The Logical Song' by Supertramp. Traversing through the modal exoticism of 'Gnossienne No.1', to a cha cha chá in 'Flame Tree', and the funk treatment of Carol King's 'Its too late' I was struck by the perfect pairing of strings and voice. Ingrid James' vocal strength is encircled by beautiful string arrangements that add subtle percussive accents (Gone Too Soon), romantic countermelodies (First Love), jazz-style harmonic pads (Constant Craving by K. D. Lang) and at times provide a gentle reflective mood (Colours of Your Love). This album takes you on a journey that is evocative, tender and contemplative”.
Gai Bryant - Saxophonist/composer, Tutor - Sydney Conservatorium Open Academy, Leader - Palacio de la Rumba big band
"So much happy listening here, with this gorgeous explosion of world sounds richly mixed together between strings and voice, along with the rhythmic propulsion of the latin and jazz infused players.I believe Louise Denson and the musicians that surround her on this Wild Strings project, has made a recording of the highest quality. It includes riveting string arrangements, along with musicians performing at the top of their game, expressing themselves at a high level where they can take risks, resulting in originality, and lyrical beauty.This project includes strong compositions, and delicate arranging details by Denson. She has included rhythmic ideas that cross genres in content, including jazz, pop and world music in the repertoire that she has chosen to work with. There is a really strong connection between herself and the vocalist especially, that comes through in the recording. There is some wonderful Canadian content that draws from her roots, and she does a great job in adding an arrangers pen to making those tracks in particular sound fresh. Bravo, I hope the music crosses borders outside of Australia in the future. I would be delighted to hear this project live on the international stage”.
Christine Jensen, Multi Juno-winning Composer and Saxophonist, Course Lecturer, Schulich School of Music, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
"Two giants of the Brisbane jazz scene came together to preview their upcoming CD at the Queensland Conservatorium in April 2018. Rarely do you get such a gathering of talented local musicians from across the divide of Contemporary and Classical music, rarer still for women to be represented in the majority on a jazz stage, let alone in the primary creative roles. The repertoire is varied and includes arrangements and originals by both ingrid James and Louise Denson. They soar from the heights of the atmospheric Gnossienne No 1 to the totally crushable arrangement of Constant Craving, James’ voice conquering all the mountains Denson’s beautiful arrangements. Can not wait for this CD to be available!!”
Naomi Doessel (Brisbane Jazz Club committee, singer/voice teacher)
"I can sense that (a) you have been training your voice, mastering your artistry, and perfecting your delivery and phrasing, but also that (b) your voice is more 'seasoned' now, I hear life experience behind the notes. The orchestration is amazing, I love the lush sound and how it interact with your timbre - it's like you're sitting on a cloud. And I also love the energy an overall vibe of it - it's rare that a string ensemble gets to go along with a 'jazzy' feel..."
Nikos Fokatis, Australianjazz.net online magazine, Melbourne
"Confidently directed by two inspirational women driving the Brisbane Jazz Scene; Ingrid James and Louise Denson presented such a delightful project. Ingrid James is a master of the narrative and captivates her audience with reflective stories and her well researched background history and circumstance, of the original composers of their repertoire. Ingrid shares the dialogue with Louise Denson, who gives some wonderful insight into her arrangements and what inspires her song writing. The excellent choice of repertoire for the evening covered a wide variety of material and styles from several decades of music. Such an entertaining smorgasbord of rhythmically stimulating Cha Chas, Boleros and Bossas within a limited performance time frame. To add to this, instrumentally creative arrangements of “If you could read my mind” and Supertramp’s successful “Logical Song” made for a satisfying evening of performance. This nine-piece ensemble deserves a packed auditorium and offers such versatility to a wide range of listeners. Such an exciting concept of highly experienced musicians, driven by two extremely talented female performers/composers who intend to make a difference to the music scene."
Gina Ellis, Performing Arts Teacher, Villanova College/Brisbane Musician, Classical Guitar/Lead Singer – Sweet Adelines International
"I had a listen to your music and it sounds fab. Really enjoyed it, lovely arrangements, great playing and singing, and very listenable! Congratulations...Lovely recording..."
Jason Rebello, British pianist/songwriter/record producer (British Jazz Awards for Pianist and Album of the Year 2016)
This album was made possible by the generous financial support of the Queensland Government
Wild Silk Strings Project would like to acknowledge the financial assistance provided by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland to record the CD
Griffith University for financial assistance in the development of the repertoire and recording