In 2006 her promising jazz career as a recording artist, performer and composer was taking off with the breakout critically acclaimed release of her first CD Scarlet Mark, when 29-year-old Liza suffered a stroke.
Now, having made a full comeback, Liza (pronounced the same as the famous Minnelli) is back with a new CD reflective of her life altering experience. With a new understanding of the inequities in women’s health care by personal experience, Liza has chosen to donate the proceeds from Anima to The Society For Women's Health Research (SWHR), a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health of all women through research, education and advocacy (www.womenshealthresearch.org).
Liza has chosen for Anima a collection of songs that are fresh, unpredictable and innovative. Most of the songs were composed or co-composed by women including Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” “A Thousand Kisses Deep” by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson, and Kate Bush’s “Wow.” Liza is particularly haunting on “Silver Dagger” a song about confounding expectations. She also presents a unique and memorable interpretation of the Peggy Lee hit “Is That All There Is?” Her supporting cast includes such notables as pianists Bruce Barth, Michael Kanan, David Cook and Art Hirahara, bassist Pat O’Leary, drummers Michael Petrosino and Eric Halvorson, the reeds of Scott Robinson, Jim Clouse and Adam Kolker, and guitarist Kelsey Warren. Singer Shayna Steele duets with Liza on ”Calling You.”
Anima also includes some of Liza’s highly praised yet controversial original compositions. She co-wrote “Revolving Mattress” with New York writer, arranger, producer and pianist David Cook and penned “Sorry Child” and “Lay We Down” with bassist and composer Pat O’Leary.
Liza’s rendering of lyrics has been described as moving. Liza has something unique going on. Musically her palette runs to the all the colours of the rainbow and her lyrics could – and should – be published in a volume of verse just as they are,” says UK artist and pop phenomenon Ariel.
Liza explains, “I want you to feel these stories. Some are joyful, some are painful and some straddle the lines as our lives do. Anima is interpreted from inside of my feminine voice filtered through these talented men playing their instruments.”
The title of the CD, Anima, was inspired by her three and a half year struggle through the medical system with her various health issues. It comes from the concept of the Anima and Animus by Carl Jung. Anima is an emotional journey.
“The idea for Anima began to germinate about two years ago,” says Liza. “I picked up Carl Gustav Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. I was especially enthralled by his concept of the ‘Anima’ and ‘Animus.’ The union of the pull of Anima, the female aspects present in the collective unconscious of men, and Animus, the male aspect present in the collective unconscious of women.”
“To me Anima represents the feminine whisper inside of a patriarchal society,” explains Liza. “After my stroke I went from doctor to doctor searching for answers. I was having trouble getting back in touch both physically and creatively. Doctors told me that I might never sing or write again. These blanket statements without hope or answers were not acceptable to me.”
“I was confronted with a seeming lack of understanding regarding my plight from the primarily male dominated medical profession. This is when I learned that little research is done on how illness, disease and medications uniquely affect women’s bodies,” she goes on to explain. “I believe that we should increase funding for women’s health research and I’m trying to do my part with Anima.”
Liza Lee is compounding her mark on today’s jazz scene with the release of Anima. Her personal and haunting musical interpretations exhibit an emotional vulnerability laced with a confident understanding of life’s realities.
Liza is an important voice of the 21st Century. Her continual evolution and development, which are uniquely displayed on Anima, are fascinating to hear and her thought-provoking music is always memorable. She has undoubtedly proven herself a consistently intriguing vocalist and a significant addition to the current jazz scene with this CD…and now she’s back.