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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Butterfly Blue'
Artist - Halie Loren

For those not in the know, Halie Loren is an American singer and songwriter. Her 2008 CD They Oughta Write a Song won the 2009 Just Plain Folks award for Best Vocal Jazz Album and subsequently received international distribution and acclaim; becoming the No. 2-selling jazz album in Japan for 2010.

Her next album, Heart First, won Jazz Critique Magazine's Golden (top) prize in the vocal album section of Jazz Audio Disc Awards 2011, reached No. 1 on the iTunes Canada jazz albums chart, and rose to No. 2 in jazz CDs at Amazon Canada.

Her 2013 album, Simply Love, was released in Japan on June 19, 2013, and spent two weeks at No. 1 on Billboard Japan's Top Jazz Albums chart. Released in North America on September 10, 2013, it spent 24 weeks on the JazzWeek airplay chart, peaking at No. 25.

Now Loren brings us her eighth full-length album, the highly impressive, deeply rich Butterfly Blue via Justin Time Records. Marrying two original pieces that exemplify the themes of imprisonment and freedom, if you haven't heard this album yet ... why now?!

The first track is the summer hipsway, gentle bounce of 'Yellow Bird,' and is truly a delightful way to become introduced to this incredible songstress. The dulcet 'I Wish You Love (que reste-t-ll de nos amours?)' is along next and showcases Loren's command of the French language along with some damn fine piano playing from long-time partner pianist Matt Treder.

A nice scat version of 'Blue' is along next, and is followed by 'Story Weather,' a 1933 song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. Funnily enough, Ethel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem in 1933, it was later covered (and made into a hit) by Etta James, but the way Loren approaches it, you could be forgiven for thinking that this version was actually Waters' or James' versions!

Next up is 'Butterfly,' a track that brings forth all that is great about the gifted vocalist and composer. A storytelling ensemble of vocals and musical wonderment, it's a poppy ballad that stands out as being, for my money, one of the true highlights of the entire album. Complete with guitar work from Daniel Gallo, the jazzy blues track infused with R&B is backed by both the piano lullaby 'After The Fall,' and the beautiful 'Our Love Is Here To Stay.' Here David Larsen infuses the Ira Gershwin track with some outstanding baritone sax solo, whilst bassist Mark Schneider creates the bass line for them both.

Alaskan-born Loren stunningly transforms the Cole Porter classic 'I've Got You Under My Skin' in such a way that her smokey vocal warmth ensures that, once heard, the song will live with you for a long time thereafter. Next up is the smokey jazz trumpet-propelled 'Danger In Loving You' (reworked from her 2010 live recording Stages), which is followed by 'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams.' Not, as I had actually hoped for, an adventurous cover of Green Day's punk version, but nice enough; if not a safe cut for Loren, all the same. This wonderful album is then rounded out by both the upbeat (which is great, as it's a song about survival) 'Carry Us Through' (inclusive of some stand out piano from Treder, Dana Heitman on trumpet, and drums from Larsen), and then a reworking of Horace Sliver's piano-led 'Peace'.

After enjoying its debut as the #1 Billboard Jazz album in Japan (when it was released there last January on JVC Kenwood), Butterfly Blue is, simply put, an album that you will hit repeat on the CD player once it has finished, over and over again. Of that, you have my word.

Personnel: Halie Loren: vocals; Daniel Gallo, William Seiji Marsh: guitars; Matt Treder: piano; Mark Schnieder: bass; Brian West: drums; David Larsen: tenor saxophone; Dana Heitman: trumpet; Joe Freuen: trombone; Rob Birdwell: flugelhorn; Katheryn Dudney: cello.

Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk

Halie Loren @ Twitter