Jana Herzen
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Jana Herzen

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
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"Soup's on Fire"

"Jammin'...swanky...jazzy...playful..." - SF WEEKLY

"Soup's on Fire"

"Soup is a ride that every music lover should take. " - RADIO & RETAIL

"Soup's on Fire"

"...Right on time for an ever-growing, multi-culti mass of listeners weaned on Santana, Sting, Salif Keita, Prince, Miles Davis, and Joni Mitchell. (HOT!) " - MUSICREVIEWZ.COM

"Soup's on Fire"

"Featuring Herzen on vocals, assorted stringed instruments, the African kalimba and Australian "dub" didjeridu, this great disc travels in as many directions as she does. " - JAZZIZ

"Soup's on Fire"

"...visionary-gatherer-of-talent on-the-Duke-Miles-Prince-level. " - MUSIC DISH.COM

"Soup's on Fire"

"A concoction of Jazz Afro-funk-alt-pop-fusion of the finest, which one shouldn't even try to categorize. Jana's music is warm, bluesy, or funky, touching and full of life. " - BESONIC.COM

"Soup's on Fire"

"...the SF Bay Area's JANA HERZEN is all over the place on this fine CD. Here are urban dance grooves, syncopated rock sounds, sensuous blues, worldbeat inflections and steamy ballads. Sensuality seems to be the thread that ties them all toghether. " - PAUSERECORD.COM

"Soup's on Fire"

"...Jana's songs lead me on deep emotional journeys. " - HILTON RUIZ (Jazz Piano Legend)

"Soup's on Fire"

"I found myself playing SOUP'S ON FIRE on continuous play. Jana's enchanting voice sings of life, love and mystical places with a wisdom seldom heard. I was deeply moved and felt the need to share this album with my friends. " - DJ JACKIE CHRISTIE

"Jana Herzen"

Jana Herzen: Break it down: Voice: mellifluous contralto, jazzy phrasing, bluesy tonalities. Lyrics: poetical/emotional/mystical/imagistic. Music: Soup's On Fire! – melodically ethereal, rhythmically sensuous, harmonically Afro-listic. Her instruments: guitar, bass, kalimba, percussion and didjeridu.

As a composer, producer and founder of the much talked about new artist-driven label, Motéma (www.motema.com), Jana Herzen is a keeper of visions. "My music is hard to categorize, but it's what I do." Even as a teen, Jana put her own spin on a tune. "I'm basically a song stylist, writing and recording my own material. The label is just an outgrowth of that musical urge. What's great is being able to help get some other very cool musicians out there in the process."

In existence as a production company since '97, the Motéma imprint began making waves this year. The genesis of this current splash was a decision to sign master jazz drummer/percussionist, Babatunde Lea, whose powerful rhythms had been driving her band since 2001. "We came up with the idea for a kind of DIY/major label fusion." They reached out to Manager/Producer Suzi Reynolds, and two months later, Lea's new Motéma release, Soul Pools, was in the can, complete with Jana's sultry blues performance on her tune, 'Round the World'. Herzen, Lea and Reynolds left soon after for MIDEM and landed international distribution for the fledgling label.

"That trip to France really forged Motéma," says Herzen. "We established a tight bond with Suzi, (now V.P. of A&R) which led to signing piano master Lynne Arriale. Legendary agent, Gaby Kleinschmidt, saw Tunde perform with Lynne's trio at MIDEM and signed both artists to her roster." Soul Pools hit #22 on Jazz Week's Radio chart, garnered international critical praise and was followed by Arriale's Arise, which hit #1 on Jazz Week and an astounding #17 on Billboard. Word of Motéma's success spread quickly, with JAZZIZ devoting considerable space to all three releases, Soul Pools, Arise and Soup's On Fire in its March World issue. "Lynne and Tunde are consummate artists. It's entirely fulfilling to work with them both as Executive Producer and fellow performer," says Herzen.

Soup's On Fire's jazzy Afro-funk-alt-pop-fusion is right on time for an ever-growing, multi-culti mass of listeners weaned on Santana, Sting, Salif Keito, Prince, Miles Davis, and Joni Mitchell, now hungry for the genre bending styles of newcomers like Norah Jones.

Add "visionary -gatherer -of -talent -on -the -Duke -Miles -Prince -level" to Jana's trades list. Her Co-Producer, Shaka-Ra Mutela, is known internationally as the writer of Santana's Supernatural hit, Yaleo, and long time collaborator of Afro-pop mainstays Papa Wemba & Ray Lema. As arranger and multi-instrumentalist on eight of Soup's ten diverse tracks, Shaka-Ra shows sizeable compositional skills on "Ya Que les Anges," "Time To Remember," "Ma Banza" and "The Man In The Moon." Also featured are master guitarist Peter Fujii, who co-writes, arranges and plays on the anthemic, "Sweet World"; talking drummer Sikeru Adepoju, known as the late great Babatunde Olatunji's right hand man; legendary San Francisco Bay area drummers Celso Alberty (Aierto, Flora Purim...), Deszon Claiborne (Alphabet Soup, Charles Brown...) and saxophonist Nick Phelps, known for his work with Tom Waits.

Herzen counts Waits, along with Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Suzanne Vega, Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon among her songwriting heroes. Soup is all of the above yet something else again.

Born to parents Leonore and Leonard Herzenberg, (world renown immunologists, who now run a 'Mom & Pop' research lab at Stanford University), Jana's childhood home was an atelier for international visitors where ideas about science, art, music and politics were passionately argued over lively dinners. The late '60's added anti-war meetings where Jana mesmerized Moms' anti-war peeps, playing and singing tunes by Dylan, Guthrie, Doc Watson, Simon & Garfunkle, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Beatles, Stones, The Doors, Pink Floyd... the beat goes on.

Following passions for theater and music, Jana spent a post high school year in London singing in folk clubs, studying voice, acting with National Theater and Covent Garden performers and working Top West End Theater rehearsals as a lighting design intern. Returning to the states, she tried shaking the theater bug, studying chemistry, calculus and computer programming by day at Stanford University, but her double life as an opera/ballet production manager by night kept it alive. She moved to the big Apple and degreed in drama at NYU. In 1984, along with six classmates and actor/teacher Robert Lupone, she formed the Manhattan Class Company theatre group, launching the career of Marissa Tomei in "Beirut" and later producing the Pulitzer Prize winning "WIT.." Jana served with MCC for ten years.

"My experience as an actress, director and script doctor at MCC very much informs my current life as a songwriter and record exec. Both companies were conceived to foster the growth of vital projects by creating a fertile and supportive environment for the creative process," says Herzen.

In early '91, a series of events sent Jana on a musical mystery tour. She performed at a Japanese Naval base, explored gamelan music/culture in Bali, recorded demos with Aussie band "Men At Work" and developed a passion for didjeridu. Jams with the pan-African band, Tingoma, plunged her deep into poly-rhythms, and she narrowly escaped death visiting rainforest hideaways on an Outback stay with an Aboriginal family. "I almost stayed in OZ," she recalls, "but ultimately felt it was too far off my track."
Changed and inspired, she re-settled in the San Francisco Bay area, where she still lives, and earnestly began recording her music with producer & Santana bassist, Myron Dove, a process cut short by his touring commitments with Santana. Moving to Santa Cruz in '92, Jana became a fixture of the thriving underground folk, African and reggae scenes. Her new Congolese family put her in touch with Shaka-Ra Mutela in '94 and he soon became, producer, collaborator, band-mate and managerial client. For three years, they recorded Soup. Adventures ensued in Paris, Zaire, New York and San Francisco, with Jana managing and performing extensively with his band, "The World Pop Machine," most notably at a command performance for Nelson Mandela at the Paris Chamber of Congress. In '97, she went solo, establishing her own band in San Francisco and eventually self-producing the remainder of her album.

2003 has been a landmark year for Jana Herzen and Motéma; a profile in Jazziz Magazine's July 'Women In Jazz' Issue, several articles in Billboard and Soup's On Fire just now hitting the stores. Best news of all -- Jana's first national tour in the making. What to expect? "I want people to walk away just totally inspired," she smiles. "I want them to think about a few new things. I want their brains, bodies and spirits to be engaged. Music transforms all the molecules in the room. That's what I like about performing." Spread the word. - MUSIC DISH.COM


1. SOUP's ON FIRE - Debut album. (Motéma, 2003)
2. 'ROUND THE WORLD, original song featuring the Babatunde Lea Quartet w/Raul Midon. Appears on Track #4 of the BABATUNDE LEA cd, SOUL POOLS. (Motéma, 2003)
New Duo Record with Bassist Charnett Moffet coming in 2010
New Jana Herzen CD now being recorded...



Jana Herzen’s life and musical adventures include writing songs in Bali, jamming with aboriginal tribesmen around campfires in Outback Australia, recording in Africa and Paris with Afro-Pop stars, recording with members of the Carlos Santana band, and even, one time, performing at a state gala for Nelson Mandela in Paris. The songs of her CD, “Soup’s On Fire”(Motema 2003) travel through exotic far-reaching musical territories, while never straying far from the heart. The richly layered soundscapes of the album were tracked in San Francisco and Paris with an unusual cast of musicians led by Afro-Parisian producer-composer-performer, Shaka Ra, who is known best for his work with Papa Wemba and his song, “Yaleo” on Santana’s hit cd “Supernatural.”

Jana draws musical inspiration from her American roots and from her encounters with the music of many cultures from around the world. A self-described ‘groove’ musician, Jana plays acoustic and electric guitars, bass, kalimba, “dub” didjeridu and assorted percussion instruments. She has performed at clubs and events around the U.S.as well as abroad in England, France, Italy, Japan, Zaire, Bali, Australia and Ecuador.

In 2003, Jana founded the Motema label which has been much in the press for it's award-winning Jazz artists. Motema promotes Jazz, World and other creative music by musicians with a knack for 'changing the molecules in the room' when they play. The current roster includes Geri Allen, Rufus Reid, Lynne Arriale, Marc Cary, KJ Denhert, Charnett Moffett, Babatunde Lea and many others.

For more information, please visit http://motema.com

(Longer bio available upon request from booking@motema.com)