San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Monday June 16th - 8pm in 2 unique shows at 9 & 11pm
theLIFT (LIVE) presents
ZARA MCFARLANE (BROWNSWOOD RECORDINGS - UK)
in her US Debut Tour featuring
BEN SHEPHERD on bass
GENE COYE on drums
KAMASI WASHINGTON on tenor sax
LINCOLN CLEARY on keys / piano
special opening DJ sets by:
JEREMY SOLE (theLIFT / KCRW - LA)
WISEACRE (theLIFT - LA / the303 - NYC)
produced by our trusted ringleader JONATHAN RUDNICK
$12 advance, $15 door
21+ w/ ID
Like rising jazz stars Jose James and Gregory Porter, Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings’ artist Zara McFarlane is part of a new generation of young singers bringing a fresh perspective to the vocal jazz game. Her lyrically conscious original songwriting brings to mind Nina Simone and Roberta Flack circa First Take era.
Zara Mcfarlane’s debut album, 2011’s Until Tomorrow, came garlanded with rave reviews and a MOBO award nomination, and heralded a major new talent in the world of British jazz.
The just released emotionally charged second album, 'If You Knew Her' is a more ambitious collection that draws from many more influences: from the deep spiritual jazz of Pharoah Sanders to dub and reggae and sees Zara blossoming as a lyrically conscious songwriter, cementing what her debut album revealed - an artist composing original songs, telling her own stories (a rarity among jazz singers), demanding attention for their daring brilliance.
Over half the tracks are stripped bare, revealing Zara's voice in all its variety and subtlety. Leaving her full trio behind, she performs in different settings, most poignantly with just understated accompaniment from the dazzling pianist Peter Edwards or, as on the album's opening masterpiece, "Open Heart," with just bass and hang. Yet when she employs her full impressive band, magic is made. "Woman in the Olive Groves," one of the album's stand-out tracks, is a spellbinding thought-provoking song and a standard in the making. The album also includes some unexpected covers including a wonderful jazz reworking of "Police and Thieves," the Junior Murvin classic.
“With the first album,” says ZARA, “I was trying to create a cohesive sound, one that used the same line up and the same instrumentation throughout. This time the focus is on the songwriting, and the arrangements are tailor-made to suit each song. There’s a lot more variation – around half of the tracks are duets, and I use more than one band. If there is a unified, cohesive theme, it’s in the lyrics: the songs represent a journey through a woman’s life.”
“I love all areas of this work – the teaching, the performing – but this album showcases what I’m most into at the moment, which is writing,” she says. “These songs on this new album are more personal than anything I’ve ever written. It’s me opening up, taking listeners on a journey.”
Gilles Peterson has been a key figure in ZARA’s career. They first met when she was performing with the house music project Bopstar at the Southport Weekender in may 2010, where she gave him an EP of acoustic jazz songs she’d recorded. Within a few months, an impressed Peterson had signed ZARA to his Brownswood Recordings label, and that EP eventually provided the basis for her debut album ‘Until Tomorrow’.
“Gilles has been an incredibly enthusiastic person to work with,” says ZARA. “with the first album, i’d recorded most of it before he’d signed me, but this time he’s been more involved in its creation and made suggestions. He’s passionate about all kinds of music, not just jazz, which has allowed me to experiment with different sounds.”
Please join us on June 16th in welcoming this dynamic new talent ZARA MCFARLANE to theLIFT 'LIVE'