Ashley Daneman Band
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Ashley Daneman Band

Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE

Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter




"People Are Fragile"

“Michigan-based “jazz-folk” singer Ashley Daneman has found an intriguing balance between the soaring virtuosity of Joni Mitchell and the earthy Americana of Becca Stevens. In a nutshell, the material and arrangements incline toward the latter, Daneman’s vocal performance toward the former. People Are Fragile is a showcase for Daneman’s nine fine originals, set alongside three tradition-steeped covers. And as its title indicates, the album showcases vulnerability as well. It’s tempting to read it as a personal statement, but the fragilities are too diffuse to boil down to a narrative. On “I Alone Love The Unseen In You,” she stands stoically in protection of a wounded loved one; and on the country-soul shimmy “Shake It All Down,” she chases away despair. None of these is particularly delicate: She saves that for the exquisite glimmers-of-hope “When You Break” and “Recall,” as well as the spiritual standards. But if there’s a throughline, it’s simply Daneman’s supple voice and a delivery both robust and mature enough to temper the whole affair.” - Michael West, Downbeat Magazine - Downbeat Magazine

"Ashley Daneman: and the healing has begun."

“THIS IS SUPERB... keep an eye out for People Are Fragile, out of Chicago, singer-songwriter Ashley Daneman combining a literary sensibility with a driving experimental jazz style where the heart of the song can find itself anywhere and always in a personal intimate space backed by a band with an open improvising set of skills who take it there. Among the personnel the album, which contains both originals and spirituals (a beautiful version of 'Deep River’ for instance), features break-out drummer Makaya McCraven but above all Daneman’s voice conjures vast complex territory that embraces Joni Mitchell to Gretchen Parlato and far beyond with a soulful, powerful sense of truth hardbedded into it.” - Marlbank - Marlbank

"Ashley Daneman: People Are Fragile"

“Possessing a singer-songwriter's sense of focus, a forward-thinking jazz singer's thrill for the unknown, and a perceptive gaze that penetrates the hardest of topic surfaces, she turns songs into fellowships connecting artist and listener.” - Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz - All About Jazz

"Ashley Daneman, Beauty Indestructible (Self-Release)"

Singer-songwriter Ashley Daneman studied with Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckmann while earning her master’s degree in jazz vocal performance at the Manhattan School of Music. Daneman’s music certainly would appeal to fans of McGarry and Bleckmann, but her full-length debut makes it clear that she is carving out her own unique identity. A key theme to this program of nine original compositions is the notion that music can have a healing quality. The positive message of the gorgeous tune “Where No One’s Ever Lost” is conveyed by lyrics such as “I say to the dark, I am tired of these things I’ve had to bear/ And now I want to go where no one’s ever lost.” Daneman’s vocal control and phrasing are impressive here, and she has crafted an arrangement that gracefully merges her wordless singing with the poignant cello work of Amali Premawardhana. The lyrics to “Think On Whatever Is Lovely” contain some phrases that would work well as a mantra to help someone get through a tough day, and Sam Weber’s muscular bass anchors an arrangement that features a surprising tempo shift. Daneman counts Joni Mitchell among her influences, and her aesthetic approach marries the sophistication of jazz harmonies with the hooks associated with folk-rock. Throughout the album, the choice of instrumentation—acoustic bass, drums, piano, Fender Rhodes, trumpet, guitar and cello—is combined with tasteful production to complement the overall song structure. - Bobby Reed, DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE

"Beauty Indestructible "One of 2014's Top 30""

Ashley Daneman possesses a truly beautiful highly trained voice. Following self-education as a vocalist in the workaday world, she abandoned the desk job route of endless repetitive travail and in 2003 entered the music world, earning praise from USA Today and others. Some people, however, are destined for a path with profound pitfalls, and she found herself suddenly undergoing a harrowing multi-year struggle with a severe case of delayed-onset PTSD. Time passed and, returning to the business world while recovering, she made her way as a 29-year old mother, then once more took leave of office work, winning a Masters program scholarship from the Manhattan School of Music. Divorce next worked its way into the picture, then single motherhood, but Daneman persevered and graduated, more than impressive enough in 2010 to be invited to the Banff Centre's Jazz & Creative Workshop for composers.

Marrying an MSM attendee, trumpeter Benje Daneman, the two decided the time had come and thus initiated a successful Kickstarter campaign to get Beauty Indestructible in gear. For a debut, it's astonishingly accomplished in all aspects. Not only is the melodious and inventive singer a talented writer but a skilled arranger as well, frequently recalling Joni Mitchell, one of her foundation influences. I also catch Van Morrison's Inarticulate Speech period quite a bit. In fact, the CD starts off with a Pee Wee Ellis trumpet riff, and there are a lot of entrancing repeating patterns everywhere. Perhaps the most interesting trait, though, is the fusion of folk and jazz modes interlocking almost indistinguishably, each mode flowing in and out of the other.

Benje unleashes himself as Here Comes a Body reaches its peak just before the band subsides into a pastoral pensée, Where No One's Ever Lost, Ashley in jazzy larksong mode, capturing afterthoughts and essences, continuing the drop into sonorously soulful balladics, sketches of Roberta Flack and Minnie Riperton rising and falling, Daneman backgrounding as her own choir. The Forest's Virgin Tree finishes the CD in dominantly adult lullabye fashion with dream-state interludes edging incipiently into nightmare territory—until the song ends just like the cessation of an REM deep sleep state. I cited this disc as one of the 2014's Top 30 'cause I heard it in December and didn't want to wait a year before I could laud it. One listen will tell you why. - Mark S. Tucker, FOLK & ACOUSTIC MUSIC EXCHANGE

"Ashley Daneman's Beauty Indestructible"

I hate it when memory fails. In the wake of Joni Mitchell's turn to jazz, there was some schmatta queen that popped up doing jazz etc who was a real should have been. I don't remember the name but I remember the vibe and Daneman just nails it here. With the same kind of sounds that found the sweet spot between 50s jazz thrush and art chick, let's hope Daneman does a better job of taking it the distance. Charming and enchanting with it's offbeat/outside the lines sensibilities, this is killer stuff that's sure to resonate with the gypsy in your soul. Check it out. - Chris Spector, MIDWEST RECORD

"Ashley Daneman: Beauty Indestructible (2015)"

The most important thing that singers/educators Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckmann impart to their students is the direction to define his or her own vocal trajectory. The lesson was readily honored by Nicky Schrire on her Space and Time (Magenta Label Group, 2013). Vocalist Ashley Daneman also took that message to heart after her study with the pair and released the present and exceptional Beauty Indestructible.

Forged from a harrowing "Long Night of the Soul" (apologies to St. John of the Cross), Beauty Indestructible is a collection of nine original "spirit poems" scored and written by Daneman, existing as an intensely personal song cycle. Daneman addresses the fundamental healing power of love. Endurance and perseverance are large themes here. Daneman presents these thought elements with a fresh-scrubbed alto balanced between pure talent and education.

Daneman's choice of instrumentation is compellingly bold with the inclusion of a healthy amount of Fender Rhodes and cello. The Rhodes, rather than imparting a 1970s period patina, instead updates and softens Daneman's often painful subjects. The standout centerpiece of the disc is the thought-salad cabaret piece, "This is Somebody Else's Piano." Thematically perfect in lyrics and music, this song is infectiously tuneful. Daneman's excellent wordless vocals are precise and fun. Joined by husband and trumpeter Benje, Daneman makes this a publically intimate recording that is frank and unapologetic...and splendidly cast within the cushion of music surrounding it.
Track Listing: How You Got To Yes; He Loves Me Well; Sing Til You’re Good and Live Again; This is Somebody Else’s Piano; think on Whatever is Lovely; Beauty Indestructible; Here Comes a Body; Where No One’s Ever Lost; The Forest’s Virgin Tree.

Personnel: Ashley Daneman: vocals; Benje Daneman: Trumpet; Dave Izard: piano; Same Weber: bass; Michael Davis: drums; Matt Davis: guitar; Amanda Premawardhana: cello (2, 8, 9).

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Modern Jazz - C. Michael Bailey, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

"Hearing Beauty & Seeing Red"

The joy of discovering a new voice is how the power of what he or she does with his or her music can alter the listener's life. On January 20th, Ashley Daneman releases "Beauty Indestructible", her second album (but first to spotlight her work as a composer, singer and arranger), a stunning personal statement filled with strong melodies, lovely harmonies and the promise of redemption. Several years ago, the artist was diagnosed with PTSD and worked very hard to overcome the stresses that it put on her and family. This music is a celebration of life, of how music can heal and how one can begin to make a difference in the lives of others.

Ms. Daneman has written that she grew up listening to Joni Mitchell and Ella Fitzgerald; one can hear traces of both those artists on these tracks but much of this music reminds me of Laura Nyro. The blend of pop, rhythm 'n' blues and jazz that permeates pieces such as "How You Got to Yes", "Think on Whatever Is Lovely" and the title track is dramatic yet intimate. The playfulness of "This is Somebody Else's Piano", with its poppy bouncing rhythms, overdubbed choir of trumpets and sprightly vocal is great fun. Kudos to her band, especially the splendid percussion work of Michael W. Davis, the subtle keyboards of David Izard and the solid foundational work of bassist Sam Weber. Add to those voices the contributions of cellist Amali Premawardhana, guitarist Matt Davis and the singer's husband Benje Daneman on trumpet and this music has plenty of color.

But, what truly makes this music stand out is Ms. Daneman's voice and presence. Her assured singing, the smart vocal overdubs and the soulful quality of her delivery fills the speakers, spreading through the room and pulls you in. "Sing ('til You're Good and Live)" has the power of a Stephen Sondheim composition, the singer telling us how music helps one to conquer fears, sorrow and the pain life can bring. Later in the program (the penultimate track), she sings "You say to the dark/ you are tired of these things you've had to bear/ and now you want to go/ where no one's ever lost", you hear how her life has been affected by her illness but you don't hear pity or remorse, no sadness. The deep tones of the cello over the moaning guitar chords have more of a "country" feel than blues while the chorus of voices rising above the rhythm section has gospel overtones.

With "Beauty Indestructible", Ashley Daneman has created a profound work of art that is so alive, so positive, and so blessedly musical. Go to and see what else she is doing with this music, asking for stories of inspiration to help people who may have lost hope. In a world which often seems to be growing harsher by the day, Ms. Daneman, through her music and her project, shows us there can also be brightness and optimism. Also, several of these songs can easily get stuck in the soundtrack of one's day and that is very good. - Richard Kamins, STEP TEMPEST

"Ashley Daneman – Beauty Indestructible Album Review"

It’s been a long, winding and sometimes deeply troubled road to this debut, crowd-funded album for the New York-based singer/songwriter. It’s involved chucking her office job to take up singing, getting hit by post-traumatic stress disorder, mental illness and the long struggle back to health via motherhood, divorce, a masters at Manhattan School of Music and a happy second marriage.

Nearly 200 people donated to a Kickstarter campaign to get this album made, and to my ears they made a damned fine investment.

Daneman is an assured singer who has clearly found her sound. It’s not dissimilar from some saxophonists who get a subtly different tone in the upper register, dampened slightly so as not to be shrill. The comparison to Becca Stevens, and maybe Heather Masse too, is a natural one to make, partly because they are all working in an area where jazz sophistication and schooling intersects with the more instinctive singer/songwriter genre, but with repeated listening it becomes clear that Daneman is every bit as individual in her tone and phrasing as Stevens and Masse.

Ashley Daneman
Ashley Daneman
And her songwriting and band sound set her apart from them too. Daneman makes a virtue of using few words and repeating them often. Mostly this works a treat, though she maybe pushes this technique further than it can go on He Loves Me Well (mind you, as an exercise in how many ways you can interpret and vocally treat the same four words it’s pretty much a masterclass). For an undisputed triumph in this technique try the title song, Beauty Indestructible.

Her melodies are really striking, mixing that singer/songwriter style with some unusual directions in line and harmony which suggest to me the finest kind of musical theatre composers – the kind of things Stephen Sondheim or maybe Adam Guettel might do. And harmony is richly used, not just in the instrumentation which involves a beautifully relaxed and warm sounding small combo, with her husband Benje a vital contributor on trumpet, but in her own vocal harmonies which she sometimes stacks up generously, sometimes just adds as a single shadowing voice, but always perfectly utilised and placed.

Daneman has a clear purpose, and it’s not only to make lovely sounding music but also to incorporate a positive “healing” quality to it as well. It’s not easy to make music out of feeling good – the sad songs usually have the edge, though of course one can argue that the blues is also a “healing” music. She has a nice side project to this album which encourages people to add stories or photos which epitomise Beauty Indestructible to her website. She’s not just singing this stuff…

Highlight tracks for me are the funky opener How You Got To Yes, the Gospel ballad Where No One’s Ever Lost and that gorgeous title track, complete with tasty Fender Rhodes solo from David Izard and a vocal hook that will live with you as an earwig for days on end. - Peter Bacon, THE JAZZ BREAKFAST

"Rupert Wates - "Joe's Cafe""

"The best number is 'The Skies Of South Dakota', sung virtually a capella by an assured Ashley Gonzalez Daneman. - ROOTSTIME (Netherlands)

"Rupert Wates - "Joe's Cafe""

"When Ashley Gonzalez Daneman encants The Skies of South Dakota in a moving Baez-ish near-a-cappella reminiscent of a toned-down Joe Hill, the ear is entranced by the purity and control of the chanteuse. Then the lyrics become clear, an exercise in the outfall of the class war, in which an envied rich girl who one day disappeared later is found as a farmer plows his fields...The drift of events, in five stanzas of progressively understood import, slowly dawns on the listener as a chill creeps up the spine." - Mark S. Tucker - Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

"A Musical Marriage"

“However, what truly distinguishes the group is the vocal stylings of singer Ashley Gonzalez Daneman. She is almost completely self-taught...Ms. Daneman owns that most pleasing of all musical traits, a decidedly individualistic style and a willingness to take interpretive risks, the true hallmark of the dedicated jazz musician...she approaches each piece with the contagious confidence of genuine exuberance. It is truly a pleasure to witness Ms. Daneman throw her entire body into each song, swaying one minute to the groove, jumping up on tip-toe the next instant as she stretches the limit of her extensive range, only to slide smoothly from this peak into a sensual glissando. As if channeling a strange amalgam of an early Anita O’Day, a late Billie Holiday, and a swinging Ella Fitzgerald, Ms. Daneman is a performer whose continued development will certainly be interesting to watch, as will the trio as a whole...”
-Franz A. Matzner
[05.23.03] - All About Jazz


"People Are Fragile" [2018] Flood Music, folk/jazz original singer/songwriter.

"Beauty Indestructible" [2015], folk/jazz original singer/songwriter.

"Silent Night (what I wouldnt give for a...)" [SINGLE, 2013], the Christmas carol, Silent Night.

"Harvest Town" [SOLO ALBUM, SELF-RELEASED, 2011], an introspective blend of original piano/vocal music.



Ashley Daneman is a singer who combines “a literary sensibility with a driving experimental jazz style where the heart of the song can find itself anywhere and always in a personal intimate space” (Marlbank). Her new release, People Are Fragile (Flood Music), traverses the emotional waters of pain, recovery, and rebirth following a series of losses.

The music feels very exposed and intimate, like a deep, late-night conversation between old friends who don’t spare each other’s feelings. It features Rob Clearfield and Rufus Ferguson on piano, Wurlitzer, and organ; Matt Gold on guitar and lap steel; Andrew Vogt on electric bass; Makaya McCraven and Quinlan Kirchner on drums; and Kevin Bujo Jones on percussion. It’s a mature, honest and fearless record that signals the next big step in the musical career of Ashley Daneman.

Daneman grew up in Toledo, Ohio studying classical voice and performing in musicals before turning to jazz and songwriting in her twenties. She honed her craft in Washington, DC, New York City, and by touring in the U.S. Daneman was also a resident artist at The Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter’s JazzAhead and The Banff Centre’s Jazz and Creative Workshop in Alberta, Canada. She earned her master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music under the guidance of Peter Eldridge, Kate McGarry, and Theo Bleckman.

People Are Fragile follows her 2015 critically acclaimed album Beauty Indestructible. Selected by DownBeat Magazine as “Editor’s Pick,” her music draws comparisons to Becca Stevens, Laura Nyro, and even Stephen Sondheim. “Beautiful jazz art music from a gorgeous voice with superb accompaniment,” says Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange, and Richard Kamins (Step Tempest) called it, “a profound work of art that is so alive, so positive, and so blessedly musical.” Daneman addresses the fundamental healing power of love” (C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz).

Ashley lives with her husband, trumpeter Benje Daneman, in Kalamazoo, MI.

Band Members