AVANT-BASS is a small independent music & media production company founded in 2000 that helps create and distribute artistically interesting and state-of-the-art pedagogical projects. Artists with whom we collaborate include jazz vocalist Jackie Allen, pianist/composer Tom Larson, soprano Mimmi Fulmer, koto player Elizabeth Falconer, synthesists/composers Joan Wildman & Cleve Scott, and bassists/composers François Rabbath & Hans Sturm.
ACCLAIMED JAZZ VOCALIST JACKIE ALLEN
RELEASES ROSE FINGERED DAWN
OCTOBER 6, 2017 ON AVANT BASS LABEL
Over a career spanning more than 30 years, vocalist and songwriter JACKIE ALLEN has produced 11 CDs that have garnered accolades from fans and critics alike. Now with ROSE FINGERED DAWN, her 12th release, the Chicago-based veteran ventures into new territory with an album featuring 10 original tunes all written specifically for her by the formidable bass player HANS STURM. Allen and Sturm are not only musical partners, they’re a husband and wife team who met in college and have been working both together and apart since the early 1980s when they began performing as a voice/bass duo act.
Allen has a smoky, expressive voice that’s instantly recognizable. She’s very musical and innovative, yet she eschews vocal pyrotechnics to express the story of a song with a directness that seems to emanate directly from her core. Allen’s repertoire has never been focused on a single genre of music. Throughout her career, she’s incorporated a range of styles, including folk and pop, that she transforms into the jazz idiom through her own unique approach.
ROSE FINGERED DAWN is a stylistically eclectic outing that draws on Allen’s skills as a natural storyteller. According the Allen, “Obviously, Hans knows me very well. I’m lucky to have a collaborator who can compose in so many different styles, as well create such poetic, sensitive imagery. His music can be so light and beautiful and romantic.” To which Sturm adds, “Jackie is my muse, and all these songs are ultimately her interpretations of my music. If she doesn’t connect with a particular lyric, I go back and rework it until she’s satisfied. I try to write to Jackie’s strengths, like her ability to convey lyrics naturally and honestly.”
ROSE FINGERED DAWN takes you on a journey across different geographical and emotional landscapes. Indeed, the eponymous title track is a nod to Homer’s Odyssey in which Odysseus invokes Eos, the goddess of dawn, as he sets out on his wanderings. The tune opens with a Ghanaian Islamic chant of welcome by drummer DANE RICHESON, who brings to the group his vast knowledge of musical cultures from around the world.
“NOLA Love Song” is a tune inspired by Allen’s and Sturm’s love of New Orleans, which they visited almost accidentlaly when they tried to escape a brutal Chicago winter. Their flight to the Caribbean was cancelled, so they hopped on the next available flight out, which happened to be going to The Big Easy. Hans had written the melody shortly after the trip, but he was inspired to write the lyrics after Hurricane Katrina.
Sturm, a poet at heart, loves wordplay and wrote “Time” using a series of clichés that all add up to the message that time flies and should be used wisely. The song has a moody jazz-rock feel that features a smoldering solo by the versatile guitarist JOHN MOULDER. “Dark Butterflies” is slow bossa that’s one of the earliest tunes that Sturm wrote for Jackie. It’s an abstract love song with lovely lyrics like “Lilies, from stem to blossom / Sliding out of the green silence / Suddenly biding their own time / Through sweet chocolate / Earth and are gone / With riots of color left behind.”
“Bel Air BBQ” is a funky homage to the great food and ambience of Kansas City, where they often travel to play music and enjoy the local cuisine. Chicago phenom VICTOR GARCIA tears it up on the tune with a burning trumpet solo. “The Laugh That Is You” is about their son’s infectious laugh. The tune is a swinger that sounds like a big band number from the Great American Songbook. On “The Moon’s on the Rise,” Allen’s sultry vocals raise the temperature of Sturm’s suggestive lyrics.
“Holy Man” switches gears with a get down blues about the hypocrisy of TV evangelists. “Sweet Dreams” is a tune that invites us “to find respite from the stress of modern life and the obstacles we each face.” Allen’s whispery vocals take on the dreamy quality one feels while slowly sliding into sleep. The CD fittingly closes with “Steal the Night,” a song inspired by Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle” about the ultimate end of all our journeys.
Allen and Sturm are joined on ROSE FINGERED DAWN by old friends and musical compatriots who have recorded and performed with the duo for many years. Besides the aforementioned guitarist John Moulder, trumpeter Victor Garcia, and drummer Dane Richeson, they’re accompanied by TOM LARSON on keyboards, reedman GEOFF BRADFIELD, and ANDY BAKER on trombone. Each of these stellar musicians has extensive performing and recording careers.
About Jackie Allen
Jackie Allen began her recording career in 1994. She’s recorded on several labels, including Lake Shore Jazz, Naxos Jazz, A440, Red Mark, Blue Note Records and others. Allen had a long musical relationship with pianist/vocalist Judy Roberts. They recorded two CDs together, Santa Baby and Autumn Leaves. Allen and her own combo recorded 3 critically acclaimed CDs for A440 and Blue Note, The Men In My Life (2003), Love Is Blue (2004) and Tangled (2006). She has served multiple terms on the Board of Governors and Jazz Nominating Committee for the Recording Academy (Grammy Awards).
Allen has toured nationally coast-to-coast in major music venues, and was the featured artist with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic in Chicago’s Millennium Park and Auditorium Theater for Ella Fitzgerald’s 95th Birthday Celebration. She has performed at jazz festivals in Detroit, Chicago, Paris, The Hague, Stuttgart, Edinburgh, Bologna, Beijing, Hong Kong, Thessaloniki, Sao Paulo, among many others. Allen is also a respected jazz educator and teaches at Doane University, NE. She has also taught at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Ball State University (IN), Roosevelt University, Elmhurst College (IL), and The Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago.
ROSE FINGERED DAWN will be available in stores and online everywhere.