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Colleen Savage’s new CD cooked up in the rich culture of New Orleans

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Colleen Savage
For Vancouver jazz artist Colleen Savage, an invitation to headline a concert and workshop at Louisiana's Tulane University last February came with an offer no musician could refuse: an opportunity to record with players active in the New Orleans jazz scene. Savage recorded her new CD Algiers in the jazz capital of the world (actually, in the small district of Algiers across the Mississippi River from downtown) accompanied by Tulane faculty members John Doheny, tenor saxophone (CBC radio's 'Our Man In New Orleans'); John Dobry, guitar; Jesse McBride, piano; Jim Markway, bass; and Geoff Clapp, drums.

Algiers is a well-paced and engaging collection of jazz standards showcasing Savage's rich, seasoned style and three-octave vocal range. Instrumentation is nuanced, colourful and, on a couple of numbers, strikingly spare. Stand-out tunes include, Time After Time, a swinging treatment of a joyful classic; I Concentrate on You, interpreted with poignant, lyric urgency; and I Wanna Be Evil, a high-spirited tribute to Eartha Kitt.

Savage acted as producer and musical director on Algiers, and arranged most of the songs, including Riverboat, an original co-written by Vancouverites Gloria Davies and Peter Sircom Bromley. The one-day recording session was mostly “off the floor," meaning that the musicians played together and recorded live. It was also largely unrehearsed, allowing for that special New Orleans flavour. Several tracks were based on spontaneous input from the players.

From packed rhythm and blues joints to concert stages across the country, Savage has always personified vocal exuberance. Her performances are distinguished by a vital connection with the material she chooses. Versatile, and energetic, Savage has a wide ranging repertoire that artfully blends sophisticated jazz with the warmth and emotion of rhythm and blues.

Characterized by reviewers as “soulful and inventive," “dynamic," and “a standout," Savage is a long-standing contributor to the Vancouver jazz scene. She has played with award-winning musicians such as Hugh Fraser, Phil Dwyer, Alan Matheson, and Michael Creber. Her depth of experience informed her work as lead singer with the Vancouver band Mother of Pearl. Her first solo CD, Hallelujah! was released in 2006.

“Jazz is simply elemental to the musical landscape. I need to help to keep it alive," says Savage. “I have always felt that songs choose you," she continues, “and these songs express my cultural sense of place. I am very privileged to live this life."

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