From a Window to a Screen is the debut album by North Carolina chanteuse Kirsten Lambert. Produced and written by noted producer Chris Stamey, the predominantly acoustic jazz collection features performances by Bill Frisell (guitar) and a North Carolina jazz "dream team" of Will Campbell (saxes), John Brown (bass), Jim Crew (piano), and Dan Davis (drums), along with special appearances by Nels Cline (treated and untreated guitars), Django Haskins (harmonies), Brent Lambert (nylon-string guitar), Allyn Love (steel), Matt Douglas (bass clarinet), and James Wallace (additional drums).
"I like finding the moment a song goes from hopeful to heartache," Kirsten says of her upcoming release, which features new songs Stamey wrote especially for this outing. These, including "What Is this Music that I Hear?" and the bossa nova-styled waltz "The Woman Who Walks the Sea," join others reimagined from his earlier catalog, including the smoky, noir title cut. Although optimism is at hand in uptempo numbers such as "There's Not a Cloud in the Sky" and "I Want You, I Need You, I Tell You," heartache is also not in short supply in reflective ballads such as "27 Years in a Single Day" and "I Didn't Mean to Fall in Love with You." And Lambert's effortless and highly personal interpretations display an intimate knowledge of the material; with her resonant and expressive alto, she has clearly made it her own.
Bill Frisell layers and weaves his distinctive hypnotic textures on "Insomnia" and steps up for a classic solo on the dB's classic "From a Window to a Screen." The album's melodic and lyrical twists harken back to the era of the Great American Songbook; in fact, its harmonic language would not be out of place in such a setting, and Stamey's Nelson Riddle- and Gordon Jenkins-inspired string arrangements underline this kinship. And Harry Connick, Jr.-alumni Will Campbell's sax solos make every chordal connection catch fire; his improvisations, recorded live with the rest, seem both startling and inevitable.
"My dad played the ukelele, so I grew up singing songs from the 20s and 30s. When I was a teenager, I discovered my dad's old records from the fifties, artists like Chet Baker, Oscar Peterson, and Sarah Vaughan." Lambert recalls. "Later, in college, my roommate turned me on to Chris's work. I feel like this record is a marriage of two distinct styles, which on first observation shouldn't work, but do."
"Porter, Kern, Gershwin, Rogers, Mingus, these wove the fabric of my earliest musical memories," Stamey adds. "Our family life was centered around a baby grand piano. I was recently reunited with this same piano, and finding these new songs in it, as inspired by Kirsten's amazing voice, has been magical. . . . We workshopped the material for several months, meeting every Sunday afternoon with pianist Wes Lachot, picking keys and tempos and revising charts. Then rehearsals moved to Duke under John Brown's watchful eye. Jim Crew and Dan Davis worked hard to master every twist and turn of the music, and their sensitivity and attentiveness are a big reason that the recordings feel so intimate and immediate. Our sessions at the Fidelitorium felt like we'd found an organic home for the music--perhaps because the original inspiration for the Kernersville studio was, in part, Rudy Van Gelder's legendary NJ space, home to the 50s Blue Note and Atlantic sessions that were a template for us."
"Chris and I have known each other a long time, and even toured together back in 1993," Lambert explains. "I think because of that I could really immerse myself in his songs. The rest of the band I chose not just because of their talent on their respective instruments--which is immense--but because we also all go way back. These friendships are at the heart of this record."
From a Window to a Screen
a "new classic" jazz recording by
written and arranged by
Bill Frisell & Scott Sawyer (guitar)
Will Campbell (sax)
John Brown (upright bass)
Dan Davis (drums)
Jim Crew (piano)
with additional contributions from
Nels Cline, Scott Sawyer (guitars, treatments)
Brent Lambert (nylon-string guitar)
Julian Lambert (piano)
Allyn Love (steel)
James Wallace (additional drums)
Matt Douglas (bass clarinet)
Karen Galvin, Laura Thomas (violins)
Matt Chicurel, Emi Mizobushi (violas)
Leah Gibson (cello)
Marichi Gupta, Franklin Hirsch
The Fidelitorium (Kernersville, NC) and
Modern Recording (Chapel Hill, NC)
by Mitch Easter, Brent Lambert
Jeff Crawford, Chris Stamey
additional remote recording by
Luke Bergman, Nels Cline and Allyn Love
Special thanks to
Allen Anderson & Wes Lachot
for arrangement input
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