Colours of Your Love
WILD SILK STRINGS PROJECT
ABOUT 'COLOURS OF YOUR LOVE' by WILD SILK STRINGS PROJECT:
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 and Griffith University for financial assistance in the development of the repertoire and recording
The Wild Silk Strings Project is a 9-piece ensemble comprising a jazz rhythm section and vocals, trumpet/flugel, saxophone and string trio, featuring Ingrid James (voice/lyricist/arr.), Louise Denson (piano/comp/arr.), Paul Armstrong (producer/trumpet/flugel, Aus/USA); Dr Paul Greggors White (tenor/barriton, USA), Martin kay (alto/tenor), Andrew Shaw (acoustic bass), Christopher Todd Harrison (drums/percussion, USA), Eugenie Costello-Shaw (violin); Danielle Bentley (cello(, Richard Grantham (viola).
This cross-genre project grew out of the long-standing musical collaboration between vocalist Ingrid James and Louise Denson, which began with the recording of their 2007 CD, Portrait.
The repertoire has been drawn from a number of sources. Half the material is Denson and James originals, ranging from a jazz waltz to tango, bolero and samba. The other half is drawn from classical and popular music (Erik Satie’s “Gnossienne No.1”, Carole King’s “It’s Too Late”, Supertramp’s “The Logical Song”, KD Lang’s “Constant Craving"). The arrangements exploit the wide range of timbres and textures available in such a sizable group, while leaving room for personal expression in the form of solos. They incorporate changing meters, different time feels, altered melodic phrasing and re-harmonization to give these classic songs a new character and meaning.
WSSP has appeared at the Brisbane International Jazz Festival, the Noosa Jazz Festival, Noosa International Jazz Festival, Brisbane Jazz Club, Doo-Bop (for the launch of the CD), Brisbane City Hall Lunchtime Concert series, Ian Hangar Concert Hall, Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
In Nov. 2016, Ingrid James received an invitation to perform at Wimbledon International Music Festival and asked Louise to join her in featuring WSSP in the UK. They were the only jazz group on the program and the only Australian artists. Ingrid and Louise were delighted to present on stage in the company of a group of highly polished London-based professionals and performed to a full house.
A project grant from Arts Queensland (for Ingrid) and a further grant from the Queensland Conservatorium (for Louise) supported a CD length recording of WSSP. The group was pleased to collaborate with a former colleague of Ingrid’s, drummer/percussionist Christopher Todd Harrison, a much sought-after player from Baltimore, USA, whose vast knowledge of the rhythms of Central and South American music added depth and excitement to the tracks. Another colleague of Ingrid’s, Paul Armstrong came on board to produce the CD and also perform trumpet/flugel. Paul Armstrong was involved in the arrangements of a couple of songs on the album.
The album was released on 29 September 2018
Recorded at Airlock Studios, Queensland
Produced and mixed by Burning Sock Monkey
SOME CD REVIEWS
"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)
SOME LIVE REVIEWS FROM CD LAUNCH IN SEPTEMBER 2018
(RESULTS OF "LIVE" AUDIENCE SURVEY)
RATINGS EXCELLENT/VERYGOOD/GOOD/NOT YOUR THING + COMMENTS
“Great night Ingrid and Louise. Congratulations on your efforts. A good crowd which shows the high regard in which both of you are held for your contributions to Australian Music”
“Wow! Brilliant. All very talented!”
“Great show. Full house!!!”
“Love the originals and rearrangements of older songs. Beautiful voice”
“I enjoyed your CD launch very much. It was good to hear such accomplished musicianship and such a variety of great songs”
“Congratulations on the grant - worth every penny!! Wonderful mix of the strings and flugelhorn, sax, drums and bass. Instrumental segment was great, piano especially”
“Ingrid James was an elite singer. Owns the stage with her presence. Made the show a modern masterpiece. Have not attended Doo-Bop before, but absolutely will be back. Wonderful evening"
“A romantic yet explosive performance, bursting with energy. Thank you so much for a wonderful evening”
“Loved it so much I bought the CD. Just brilliant - something for everyone!!!"
“Unique arrangements and excellent work. Well worth the funding”
“Beautiful music. The singer had a soothing, lyrical voice. I loved every part of the performance. Thank you!”
"This is music of the highest quality. Congratulations to Ingrid and all the instrumentalists and Louise Denson for the great arrangements”
“Great soloists. Great arrangements! Ingrid James is a consummate performer!”
“Great band. Good luck with the album!"
"Very smooth, easy listening. Supreme musicianship”
"Blends remarkably well. Great full sound, enjoying the close chords”
“Love the multiple layers and complex rhythms. Well done!”
“So great to hear such original arrangements. So wonderful to see equal numbers of male and female performers - all brilliant musicians. Complex, interesting, passionate! and the truly amazing vocalist. Serious music, thank you! Nice arrangements of some old songs. Beautiful encore!”
“Wonderful. Bit Flora Purim. Loved particularly ‘Constant Craving’ - lovely arrangement. My first choice “The Logical Song”. Band is great. Love drumming, strings, but also piano, bass trumpet and sax. Warmed up beautifully - loved it. Loved Eric Satie piece!!! If You Could Read My Mind. Killer rhythm section”
“Really enjoyed; great vibe! Look forward to hearing more!”
“Congrats Ingrid. What a fabulous night. Chocablock house. We all loved your music. Beautiful singing. xxxx”
“A collection of musicians I’ll likely remember for years to come. What a rad =night. Keep them tunes comin’. I dig it.”
“Great easy groove. Nice take on songs”
“Lovely but too loud”
“Wonderful musicianship. Beautifully played and sung”
“Wow ‘teach’ (Ingrid), you were fantastic. Glad to know I’m in good hands. The band was awesome”
“Thank you for a fantastic night of music by a superb ensemble” Janelle Christofis QPAC
“Excellent arrangement of great tunes. Really enjoyed it” (Michael visiting from Melbourne)
“Delightful evening listening to world-class jazz - in Brisbane! Ingrid James was outstanding as always”
“Loved the show”
“I enjoyed the Latin feels to many of the compositions with some interesting polyrhythms. Well arranged and orchestrated - a beautiful mix with all the strings. Well composed and beautifully crafted”
"Great mix of various styles. How about some Caetano Velosos. Obviously Brasilian influence”
“I’m in love with the violinist”
“Great club - great food - great music”
“Fantastic arrangement, rich harmonic depth with strings and horns and the ethereal voice of Ingrid James over it all. Beautiful concert. Can’t wait to hear the CD!!”
“Fantastic ensemble work. Great sense of life in the arrangements and original charts. Keep up the good work - more please!”
“Very enjoyable. I don’t know how you do it. A very talented group with great energy’
“Stellar show, amazing calibre of musicians and of course magical voice of incomparable Ingrid James”
“What an attractive group. Great variety. Complex. Entertaining”
“Great music. Loved the variety of source songs plus the original music. “Twas a beautiful amalgam of vocals and instruments. I especially loved the way that the instrumentalists didn’t compete with each other - OR - the vocalist! Just lovely” Kitty
“Great place. A wonderful environment, excellent service. Food very yummy!”
“Enjoyed your diverse set and hearing your take on some very familiar songs. Instruments were wonderful - fantastic musicians. Great mix of sound and pace”
“Incredibly versatile across a wide range of music”
“Great mix of styles - I loved the unusual mix of strings in a small jazz group - they added lovely extra layers”
VERY GOOD COMMENTS
“Fabulous musicians and stunning vocals”
“Use of strings adds depth and colour. Venue didn’t always do acoustic justice to some of the harmonic content. Lovely rich bass. Very enjoyable”
“Thorough enjoyed the music tonight. Congratulations on your CD! The strings were a lovely addition”
“Complex rhythms and some very interesting melodic lines. Ingrid’s voice mixed well with the instruments and overall delivered an entertaining and enjoyable evening!
“Thoroughly entertaining on vocals”
“Good arrangements and orchestrations. High quality band. No obvious stylistic thread. Great violin and bass”
“Prefer to hear versions kept to the original instead of going off on a tangent”
“Enjoyed it, but the volume was too high"
“Enjoyed the variety. Great passion"
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