Karen Segal
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Karen Segal

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
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"Mike Stern"

"Smokin'!" - guitarist


"JazzTimes Sept2009"

Guitarist, composer and bandleader Karen Segal takes a prodigious leap in jazz fusion with her debut record The Mystery Of Life. Some featured musicians on the recording include bass players Perry Thoorsell and Marcus Shelby, drummers Alan Hall and Ricky Carter, and percussionist Brian Rice. The Mystery Of Life is a musical manifesto that documents Segal’s influences from the bluesy styled arcs of John Scofield to the eclectic rock imagery of Pat Metheny along with volumes of smooth bronzing which she puts on acid-tinted jazz and multi-colored patterns. She pays homage to her mentors while sustaining an individuality in her music that may be described as ethereal-meshed jazz. Written, arranged and produced by Segal, The Mystery Of Life has a soft brushing interrupted periodically by sizzling guitar sparks and winded tossing that makes for an album which stimulates the cells of the mind and stirs feeling in the tips of the limbs.

The Latin flavoring of “What Goes Around” has a weightless feel in its spins and extensions, which shift into a series of sexy, cha-cha shimmies on the rhythmic patterns of “Come With Me.” The guitar inflections are buoyed by the elegant grazing of her finger movements as the bongo-styled beats protrude with an island sway. The gentle, breezy strokes in tracks like “Moonrise,” After The Storm, and “Lost” have an ethereal lift, which transform into molten acid tones in “Epiphany.” The bluesy bass ripples of “Blues For Wes And Kenny” support Segal’s plush, shimmering chords tones, and the wavy ruffles donning the title track display a nomadic wandering. The exotic sound effects and island flare of “Lilah Rose” have a world music coloring, and the soft, contemplative musings coasting along “I Believe” radiate with a romantic touch that is deeply in tuned to human emotions.

Segal plays from her heart while listening to her mind. Her music is conducive to supper club ambiences and induces feel-good vibrations in the listener’s ears. The songs are amenable and hospitable making listeners feel welcomed by surrounding them in easy listening tunage and reclining motions. - Susan Frances


"JAZZIZ Oct2009"

"San Francisco guitarist Karen Segal offers a particularly free-spirited style of jazz on her latest album, The Mystery of Life. The music is largely inspired by classic guitar jazz and bebop, but Segal has lived, performed, and traveled around the world, so hints of other styles show up throughout the disc. The bouquet of influences makes for a diverse, entertaining instrumental experience that’s likely to appeal to a broad range of listeners."

- reviews


"Wounded Messenger Blog July2009"

San Francisco guitarist Karen Segal offers a particularly free-spirited style of jazz on her latest album, The Mystery of Life. The music is largely inspired by classic guitar jazz and bebop, but Segal has lived, performed, and traveled around the world, so hints of other styles show up throughout the disc. The bouquet of influences makes for a diverse, entertaining instrumental experience that’s likely to appeal to a broad range of listeners.

The Mystery of LifeBacked for most of the session by the bass/drums duo of Perry Thoorsel and Alan Hall, Segal infuses each of her songs with a relaxed, personable tone that lends emotional weight in the absence of vocals. Her playing explores realms familiar and uncharted, as the listener can hear the influence of six-string greats like John Scofield, Mike Stern, and Pat Metheny while also getting to know Segal’s own inventive musical mannerisms. I was reminded of Charlie Hunter more than once while listening – there are times when Segal’s tone and direction bear an uncanny resemblance to Hunter’s mellifluous style.

Though she seems to be most comfortable in mid-tempo bop realms, Segal still manages to neatly incorporate Latin elements, groove-jazz hooks, and other influences that are harder to pin down. “What Goes Around,” for instance, is alive with vaguely eastern melodic touches and dark rhythmic undercurrents, and “Come With Me” showcases her blues-tinged soloing over a flambé of sensual Latin percussion courtesy of Hall and guest percussionist Brian Rice.

Rice also contributes a joyful cuíca introduction to “Lilah Rose,” a song named for Segal’s daughter, and there’s a fanciful, undeniably childlike quality to the song’s shuffling rhythm and playful guitar. “Epiphany (aha!)” is a loosely constructed, sublimely restrained funk number, one of three tracks that feature guest drummer Ricky Carter. Carter also adds his subtle style to the smoky tribute track “Blues For Wes and Kenny,” where he and guest bassist Marcus Shelby lend a classic jazz foundation (and a killer bass solo) to Segal’s timeless playing.

Segal is at her best on simmering, pastoral jazz numbers like “I Believe,” “Moonrise,” “Lost,” and “After the Storm,” where her carefully executed guitar passages can find the perfect space to stretch out and breathe deeply. “Lost” is perhaps the most dynamic and thought-provoking track on the album, with moments of relaxing beauty, striking dissonance, and artful improvisation all found within the confines of one song, though “I Believe” is equally gorgeous. The Mystery of Life should make Segal less of a mystery in the world of jazz, as the album shows that she’s ready for more well-deserved recognition.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 - wordpress


Discography

Karen Segal: "The Mystery of Life"
Karen Segal: "In The Moment"
Rhapsody: Women In Jazz Vol.9
Red Clay: "The Lower City"
Marsha Attie: "The Edge of the Cliff"
airplay on KCSM 91.1:
"In the Moment," "Why Didn't Ya Tell Me"

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Bio

From playing free jazz in Copenhagen (Marilyn Mazur), funk (Power People) and big band in London (Cedric West), and acid jazz in Los Angeles (David Brown/Brazzaville, Elliot Caine) Karen's uniques style of guitar playing has been likened to Pat Metheny, John Scofield and John McLaughlin. Her original compositions tell instrumental stories that are complex and yet accessible to all audiences.