Jacelyn Parry
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Jacelyn Parry

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Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter

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"Jacelyn Parry an Interview"

Like her music, Jacelyn Parry is a beautiful combination of East and West. She was born in Malaysia, grew up in Singapore and Australia and now lives in the historic heart of Rome. At sixteen, Jacelyn’s Australian father and Malaysian Chinese mother moved the family from Singapore to Brisbane. She won a place at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music studying sonolgy and music technology. Here she was able to expand and discover new dimensions to her musical vocabulary. She also learned about the practical side of producing and recording music by working with her colleagues.
After graduating from the Conservatorium, Jacelyn won a position as an intern in New York with platinum award-winning sound engineer and producer Ken Lewis. At this time, Lewis was working with John Legend, Kanye West and David Byrne. The experience of working with Lewis gave Jacelyn new confidence and she enjoyed being part of the recording and production industry. After only four months of working with Lewis, she won a credit on Kanye West’s Grammy award-winning album “College Dropout”.
While in New York, Jacelyn discovered the world of high fidelity. Soon she was working with Suono, the Italian audiophile magazine, and began living in Rome. Jacelyn began recording with the Ettore Carucci Quartet at the Forum Music Village where people like Ennio Morricone and Charlie Haden worked. She began experimenting with sound and writing her own music. Italian publisher Concertone was interested in her work and soon she was releasing her first album called “East to West”.
Jacelyn continued to refine and develop her music by attending the St Louis College of Music in Rome and studying composition for film sound tracks.
Today, she combines her music career as a singer, pianist and composer with producing other artist’s work and composing music for film.


L&S: Who or what were some of your earliest musical influences?
JP: Well, come to think of it, the earliest memorable musical forays that seeped into my early years were not so much that of a specific melody or harmony from a favourite record but it happened to be more of a sonic kind. My Dad bought us a Yamaha C605 organ complete with a two tiered keyboard, bass pedals and colored buttons to match. It wasn’t a Hammond but it was our sonic spaceship that my brother and I spent many an afternoon on invented adventures utilizing the sounds we carved out from the tone levers and that would be years even before I even came to hear of Isao Tomita or Wendy Carlos. Shortly after that I came to discover the acoustic sublimity of the piano in my neighbours house and that was really the starting point for my musical endeavours. Though primarily with sound, I could spend what seemed like hours listening to the same note sustained and decaying and then eventually slowly stumbling upon simple melodies and harmonies. It comes to no surprise then when I first heard Eric Satie’s Trois Gymnopédie played on the piano, it struck me as love at first sound and I suppose after all that was what the maestro had intended with his furniture music.

Other than that, a lot of my earlier musical citations were probably subliminal- mostly soundtracks at the movies were my biggest staple. John Williams’ sweeping scores to Morricones hauntingly gripping ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ to the quintessential kung-fu soundtracks off the Shaw Brothers catalog. The Cole Porter songbook would be another keen contender in those pre-adolescent years. Although I remembered getting my first tape deck for Christmas and along with that, a trip to the local mall in Singapore to pick out a cassette tape. Not a lot to choose from apart from the usual top of the pops fare and so I chose Cindy Lauper (or maybe she chose me?). Time After Time was always on the rewind and I would hang in on the refrains until the tape finally burnt out. My dad had a record or two from Toto and Fleetwood Mac that he would play on our occasional weekend road trips to Malaysia and that made up a large part of window gazing soundtracks as I counted the endless palm trees from Johore to Penang to the melodic motifs of Africa. And if we stayed in Singapore, on Sundays I would hear the occasional arrangements of Mantovani and Teresa Teng permeating through the house.


L&S: How would you best describe the style of your music? What inspires your songwriting?
JP: Probably one of the hardest things for me is to pinpoint a singular style, but I suppose I would have to say that it edges in on the Jazz arena albeit a mingling confluence of various styles from world music to pop and the odd classical references with some of my other repertoire. The amazing musicians that I play with are a mixture of jazz, world and classical players. The double bassist, drummer and saxophonist are inclined towards jazz (trad, fusion and modern), the percussionist towards world and the acoustic guitarist, classical. With all their experiences that they bring to the recording room lends for an interesting mix and with that, we hope in some small way to touch upon the shores of musical freedom. Playing with amazing musicians rooted in their craft can bequeath a very liberating feeling.

As cliched as it seems, love, beauty, hope and relationships are the things that inspires me the most. The humdrum of life, the sound of the seaside’s lulling waves batting it rhythms on the shores or the assured drone of crickets serenading the night. Yes to me sound is musical, especially silence and the space that engulfs it. Yielding to a fate of place and imbued by life’s intrinsic colours does leave an indelible mark. Seeking to translate that into song lends for a fruitful search.

A lot of my songwriting is about searching between those moments and experiencing the interchanging dynamics of our epistemic and emotional ranges with life. The ebbing and flowing of change that happens daily, the cycles that evolve, nurture and establish in our daily affirmations to be are ultimately the ones that erode away, right down to the hidden perceptions in our mind. Then what is it then to find true love and freedom if even our ideas can lead to confine us over the grand wheel of time? To be profound in the present is the simplest yet most complex of rites and after all that how can you seek to know and express what defines us and yet be free from the confines of that very source of knowing? The art of discovering and letting go is the treading on that thin wire through life that intrigues me the most and inspires my writing, although at times, it’s the sheer simplicity of not being that ironically elates my inspiration.

I also draw a lot from cinema, one of my great passions. Great cinema is poetry in motion. The colours, the surprising stories that changes you. In many ways a song is like a film that unveils the hidden crevices of the long forgotten songlines treaded by our ancestors. The greatest love story ever told is right there in our hearts and really there is no need for words, cinema or music when we are deeply listening to these hidden songs in the other. As a clear open mirror that reflects upon, we partake in something special: the dance of sharing, alive in all it’s varying shades and nuances. But alas, in our relapsing loneliness, we tend to forget many of these finer things in life and that is where art and music become so precious.

L&S: What can your fans look forward to in the coming months?
JP: It has been on the back burner for quite sometime as I’ve been meaning to record one of my songs in the veritable Cuban inspired Son style and as scribbled dreams on paper turn to reality, it so happens that on a recent trip to Havana, I recorded one of my songs with some very fine Cuban musicians. Emilio Vega (pianist and arranger) of the Opera de la Calle, Amedito Dadeo on percussions, Raoul Tobias Garcia on Double Bass And Raul Verdecia on the Tres guitar. We’re currently working on the mix in the studio & then the music video that we shot in Havana will follow suit.


L&S: Do you have any plans to perform in South East Asia anytime soon?
JP: Hopefully soon. That’s where I spent my childhood years growing up. My heart beats for S.E.A and no doubt I’d be hanging in to do a concert or two in the area when and if we get a chance.
- Life and Style Magazine, The Quintessence of Contemporary Luxury


"Intriguing New Songstress"

Both Eastern and Western cultures have developed some extraordinary musical genres, instruments and talent, especially over the course of the last 100 years. As travel and communication have become easier and cheaper, these two distinct cultural backgrounds have begun to meld and form combinations that nobody could have ever dreamed, and the results are often some of the best art that is being produced today. Songwriter and vocalist Jacelyn Parry, herself coming from a family of mixed East and West backgrounds, uses her musical output to bridge the gap between American jazz harmonies, Eastern melodies and Latin rhythms to produce a sound that is exclusively hers, and that captivates as much as it entertains.

Her latest recording, In Quiet Tones, was recorded in Italy with Italian musicians, which is apt as Parry now resides in Rome, a global melting pot of art and culture in itself. Alongside the talented vocalist and writer, the album features Giuseppe Bassi on double bass, Roberto Ottaviano, playing soprano saxophone, Cesare Pastanella, percussion, Nando di Modugno, acoustic guitar and Mimmo Campanale, drum set. Each musician brings their unique musical personalities to the mix, while coming together to gel as a cohesive unit in support of Parry and the individual soloists. Of note, Ottaviano and Modugno provide some rhythmically exciting and melodically engaging improvisations that stand out as some of the album’s strongest highlights. Songs such as “Flown” and “A Passageway I Find” are strongly written, and the solos provided by these artists only act to raise them to a higher level of audience engagement.

Though each of these musicians brings their “A-game” to this recording, the focus is, and as it should be, on the band’s leader Parry. She possesses a breathy quality to her voice that draws the listener in, often preferring to sing quiet, entrancing melodies when others might have gone for more of a forte approach. This technique is especially effective on songs such as “In Quiet Tones,” a skipping waltz that allows Parry to float over the rhythm section with her lyrical lines and phrases. As well, on “Playing Little Games With Me,” Parry sings with a nice “Norah Jones” touch to her phrasing, especially at the end of her lines where she channels the vocal quality of the award-winning American vocalist. The song may evoke Norah’s vocal style, but it never sounds overdone, and since it’s the only song on the album that falls into this category, it only adds to the overall effectiveness of the record. With the bass solo, four to the floor guitar comping in the Freddie Green style, this song is a nice tribute to both Jones and the American Swing Jazz style.

Alongside the jazz inspired songs on the album, there is also plenty of Latin and Brazilian based rhythms, grooves and textures, most notably on the song “You Gave Me a Song.” The tune brings to mind a small South American café, the breeze blowing by as one listens to a quartet playing for the patrons in the corner. Evoking such visual imagery with one’s music is not an easy thing to accomplish, but Parry makes it sound easy, another testament to her writing style and the high level of musicianship that the entire band brings to the table.

With an overabundance of new jazz records being released each year it’s easy to skip over new, unknown voices in the genre for the safety of the bigger, more entrenched names, but it is albums such as this that remind on that even there is plenty of room on store shelves for everyone, newcomer and legendary alike.


Review by Matthew Warnock
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
- Matthew Warnock


"The Jacelyn Parry Sextet in concert at Club 1799 of Acquaviva, Italy by Silvana Kuhtz"

Jacelyn Parry, a musician born in Malaysia and raised in Singapore and Australia, but now living in Rome for six years and has studied at the Queensland Conservatory of Music & you can retrieve information about her from many different websites however the same can not be done with regard to her performance, which remains in the realm of things to experience in person.

Despite the appearances of her beautiful face with oriental features, in listening to a concert on 5 January 1799 at the Club Acquaviva delle Fonti, in the province of Bari, presenting the world premiere of her new project "Deep is the Night", I did not hear any sounds Eastern. Rather, a large depth in the lyrics, and references to jazz, soul and singers like Joni Mitchell. I thought it was, in essence, a singer very "westernized" and in fact the Parry claims to have been influenced, if anything, to be as minimalist John Adams and Steve Reich, and probably also by Joni Mitchell.

She has a very interesting the timbre of the voice of the singer-pianist and the mixture is created on stage with the musicians, a quintet, all from Puglia, which accompanies her. The meeting of the jazz musicians from Puglia that follows her in this adventure are - Nando Di Modugno, Cesare Pastanella Mimmo Campanale, Giuseppe Bassi and Roberto Ottaviano.

The performance of the January 5 to Acquaviva was perhaps hampered by a slightly muddy sound, was not that easy to distinguish the lyrics but was able to appreciate the overall outcome and the professionalism of all the musicians on stage. Enthusiastic and involved the audience. It is certainly a project that has vision and potential; worth keeping an eye on this new proposal in the newly started in 2011. SILVANA KUHTZ - l'orechhio di dioniso


Discography

East to West 2008 , Concertone / Edel

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Bio

Like her music, Jacelyn Parry is a beautiful combination of East and West.
She was born in Malaysia and grew up in Singapore and Australia and now lives in the historic heart of Rome working as a singer, pianist, songwriter and composer.

She has just finished her second album of original songs and will begin performing them with her band at Italy’s top jazz events and clubs.

Jacelyn Parry’s new album is inspired by her interest in western and eastern philosophies and her search for heartfelt meaning amid the change and hurly burly of life.

“Change is inevitable but our need for continuity is vital,’’ says Jacelyn. “Like the roots of a tree connecting to the earth, we need stability and a sense of belonging. I see changes in the cycles of our lives, the seasons, the passing hours in a day and in our fleeting thoughts.

“But amid the ebbing and flowing of life, it is the meaning in our hearts that resounds most clearly. These new songs reflect my feelings about these bigger questions of life.”

When she started writing, Jacelyn wanted to make an acoustic album with a warm sound that captured something of the nostalgic atmosphere of the sound recordings of the 1950s.

Inspired by jazz, classical and world music, the album’s harmony and melody is reflected in the instrumental make up of the band. The jazz comes from the bassist, saxophonist and drummer while the classical from the guitarist and the world music from the percussions.

The album combines Jacelyn’s ethereal voice with sophisticated acoustic jazz harmonies and is organic rather than electronic. Both the voice and instrumentation create a deep, atmospheric music.

On this album, Jacelyn is playing with some of Italy’s best Jazz musicians, including Giuseppe Bassi, double bass, Roberto Ottaviano, soprano saxophone, Cesare Pastanella, world percussions, Nando di Modugno, acoustic guitar and Mimmo Campanale, drums.

The group came together after Jacelyn met the musicians at a recording studio in Taranto in Italy’s deep south. Jacelyn soon began composing new songs on the piano and began working with double bassist Giuseppe Bassi. Soon they were recording her new songs in Bari in Puglia.

Now the new album is made up of eleven original songs and is at the demo stage, ready for a producer to bring Jacelyn Parry’s poetic musical aesthetic and vision out into the world.