Sirena Riley started her first night in London by opening a 'Time Out' magazine and going to the first jazz open mic session she could find. Australian pianist and composer, Tom Donald was the house pianist. They were introduced over a spine-tingling, room-silencing performance of Duke Ellington's ‘Solitude’ that startled even the performers. After eyeing each other suspiciously, they agreed that a collaboration was inevitable. Two years later, the debut song cycle and album, 'The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet' will be released this autumn.
An Ellington tune was a fitting platform given that Sirena grew up in a suburb of Washington, DC, birthplace of that illustrious composer. She began singing in choirs as a child and later contributed vocals for several DC bands. She settled on jazz because as she says, “its delicious.” She split for London after meeting several skillful, inspired artists based in Europe and the UK. She felt at home among them, and knew instinctively that London was where she belonged.
'The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet' is the result of a one day recording session featuring a brilliant line up. Reedist, Mark Buckingham, is best described as the bass clarinet’s answer to Eric Dolphy. The vibrant lucidity of double-bassist, Vanessa McGowan joins the band at the hips, while James Kaye’s perceptive percussion adds an uncanny texture to Donald’s obliquely dissonant melodies. Donald’s pianism is at once spatial and complex, orchestrating the unique soundscape. Sirena's vocal performance is a return to straightforward soulfulness from the breathless vulnerability of ‘Reconcile’ to the the edgy, yet catchy ‘Half Moon' which was semifinalist in the 2008 U.K songwriting competition jazz section.
Riley's sunburnt voice and poetic, often confrontational lyrics shatter expectations of a jazz vocalist and places these songs into an idiom of modern jazz which attracts music lovers within and well outside of its usual audience.
Sirena Riley - Vocals, Lyrics
Tom Donald - Piano, Music
Mark Buckingham - Clarinets, Reeds, Occasional Sax
Vanessa McGowen - Double Bass
Renu Hossain - Percussion
Sirena Riley "The Lunatic the Lover and the Poet". 2008 (Remigrant Records)
Scott Jarrett - composer, producer and musical director (Without Rhyme or Reason 1980)
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Very cool. I like the recording quality, the piano playing, and the lyrics in particular. I think th...Very cool. I like the recording quality, the piano playing, and the lyrics in particular. I think the quirkiness of the lyrics works well against the music tracks. Very unexpected thematic material.
CD baby review
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I couldn't recommend this album enough. It has everything missing in the modern recording establishm...I couldn't recommend this album enough. It has everything missing in the modern recording establishment, originality, daring dissonance, organic performance dynamics and the recording sound is stunning, not highly compressed like major record companies. This recording captures fine musicians in full fledge with full honesty and life enriching music making. Sirena Riley is a must hear vocalist new to the scene and this debut album is a stunner. Don't miss out!
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Free Improvisation, The odd standard and not so standard, Ethnic rhythms, Keith Jarrett and Miles sounding freedom sound worlds
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