Eminently soulful and stylish Los Angeles based vocalist Lauren White may be a relatively new face on the indie jazz scene, but she’s been leading up to her emergence with Meant To Be with a colorful career as a performer that includes appearing in musical shows on and off Broadway, acting on soap operas and working as a popular cabaret performer for many years.
There are a lot of excellent standards interpreters around, but if you’re looking for fresh voices and songs that haven’t been done too often, Lauren White’s Meant To Be is an exciting place to start.
It’s always inspiring when artists new to the public don’t play it safe by rehashing the same old standards we’ve heard a million times. More than simply a genre-transcendent 10 track set celebrating White’s many influences, Meant To Be is a true invitation. With her beautiful voice and crisp, emotional phrasing that goes inside the lyrics, she opens a door beyond these fresh interpretations of magical (and sometimes obscure) gems that will hopefully prompt listeners to embark on a whimsical musical discovery tour of their own.
It’s exciting to come along for the right as she doesn’t simply revisit, but fully re-imagines pieces by a fascinating and diverse roster of renowned artists and songwriters. The launching pad was Jorge Ben’s bossa classic “Chove Chuva” (originally recorded by Sergio Mendes), and she and her producer, keyboardist and chief arranger Quinn Johnson whip up a delightfully exotic treat. Wrapping the listener’s heart around their fingers, they tap into the catalogs of Susan Werner (“I Can’t Be New”), Dave Frishberg/Alan Broadbent (“Heart’s Desire”), Joshua Redman (“Wish,” with lyrics by one of the album’s arrangers, Eli Brueggemann), Stephen Sondheim (“Now You Know” from “Merrily We Roll Along”), Bobby Troup (“The Meaning of the Blues”), Bernard Ighner (“Everything Must Change”) and Ivan Lins (“Saudades de Casa,” refashioned in English as “Meant To Be”).
White also takes a unique liberty for a jazz-oriented recording by doing two original “mashups” (unexpected medleys)—one featuring the classic “Angel Eyes” mixed seamlessly with Melody Gardot’s “Your Heart Is As Black As Night,” the other blending the early Carole King tune “Music” with John Coltrane’s “After The Rain.”
Drawing on her long history and love of collaborations, Lauren brings these arrangements to life with a host of Los Angeles jazz stalwarts, including bassists Trey Henry and Hussain Jiffry, drummers Ray Brinker and Kevin Winard, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, and guitarists Bob Mann and Kleber George. Although Lauren’s sultry voice and keen phrasing are the driving forces of Meant To Be, she says that the album is the dynamic result of a one of a kind synergy she shares with Johnson and the album’s executive producer, Clifford Bell. She met both of these key creative partners through Michael Orland (renowned for his work as Associate Musical Director on “American Idol”), who co-produced Lauren’s 2010 self titled debut album with guitarist Ted Perlman (“Buffalo Sound”) and performed traditional cabaret shows with her many times at Los Angeles venues like the Cinegrill and the Bel Age Hotel.
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