Released on Brownswood Recordings,
10th October 2011
Zara McFarlane releases her debut album Until Tomorrow on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings on the 10th October. Positioned neatly between the twin worlds of modern jazz and eclectic nu-soul, Zara’s album confirms the presence of a very special young voice on the UK scene.
The album exudes a liberal dose of subtle, stealthy swing, yet as steeped as she is in the jazz tradition, Zara has brought an eminently soul undercurrent to what she does, and her music will appeal to audiences weaned on Jill Scott and Erykah Badu as easily as to those more attuned to Cassandra Wilson or Dianne Reeves.
The creative spark for Until Tomorrow was ignited a long time ago. “Some of the songs on the album go back some time,” she notes. “I’ve wanted to make an album for probably about 10 years or so, and now this definitely feels like the right time for me.”
Anybody keeping an eye on the ongoing development of the British jazz scene will have noticed Zara McFarlane in the last few years. The 28 year-old London vocalist has made a string of impressive appearances with musicians who don’t choose their collaborators without careful consideration, such as Denys Baptiste, Orphy Robinson, Soweto Kinch and Jazz Jamaica All Stars to name but a few. McFarlane’s appearance on the latter’s 2006 Motown-themed album Motor City Roots revealed a singer whose power was offset by delicacy, and McFarlane made good on her potential when she issued her self-produced EP, Until Tomorrow, in 2010. The six track mini-album was evenly split between original compositions and standards like the perennial jazz favourite On Green Dolphin Street. There was enormous poise in the way that McFarlane handled the melodies and chord changes of her chosen pieces but arguably more impressive was the fact that she asserted through her thoughtful and engaging lyrics.
“Most of this album was recorded before I even met Gilles,” Zara explains. “I did five new songs this year in January. Pete [Edwards] wrote arrangements and things just fell into place. I suppose that I was really trying to bring a contemporary feel to old music. I think anyone can listen to jazz but it’s up to us to make it fresh so that anyone can relate to it.”
Backed by a brilliant group of musicians that includes pianist Peter Edwards, double bassist Nick Walsh, drummer Andy Chapman and saxophonists Binker Goldings, Camilla George and Zem Adu, McFarlane more than comes into her own on an engrossing set that includes more originals such as Chiaroscuro, Blossom Tree and More Than Mine,
Blessed with a fine voice and real a strength of character in both her performance and writing, Zara’s finesse and delivery stems both from a natural gift, and from years of formal study at a very high standard. Having completed course in both Popular Music Performance at Thames Valley University and Jazz Studies at the Guildhall School of Music, she is as drawn to popular culture as she is high art, and her work to date wholeheartedly shows that she is comfortable in a wide variety of contexts. To date, her achievements include collaborations with the acclaimed house producer Bopstar, performances with South African jazz icon Hugh Masekela and the gifted British pianist and arranger Alex Wilson. With Until Tomorrow, Zara McFarlane has taken a giant step down the road to what is surely a long, illustrious career.
21st September - Spice of Life, London
6th October - Momo’s, London
8th October - Mr Wolfs, Bristol
14th October - The Social, London
20th October - Mau Mau Bar, London
27th October - Supafine at the Hideaway, London
20th November - Dingwalls, London
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