Those strings. That voice. These songs. On Jackie Gage’s debut album Siren Songs, she establishes herself firmly as one of the most vital artists in the jazz world. It’s soulful, inventive, playful, and powerful. It’s a truly rare work of art.
Building from a haunting ethereal marimba solo, Gage and her incredible band launch into a reimagining of the standard “That Old Black Magic.” The magic of this record is that the original compositions easily hold their own next to the time-tested staples. “It’s Your Love” is eerie, beautiful, and stunning, bridging the gap between traditional vocal jazz and neo-soul. The dueling solos between marimbist Dillon Vado and pianist Timothy Wat are absolutely ebullient.
The album is a play on the myth of the Sirens, the golden-tongued woman of Greek myth whose song lured sailors to their deaths. Throughout, Jackie Gage places herself at the center of a tumultuous emotional storm. Desiring and desired, regretting and longing. Possession becomes a central theme, as on the impeccably arranged “Mine.” But for all the heartbreak on display, the album’s highest point is the radiant rendition of Mongo Santamaria’s classic “Afro Blue.” Drummer Jason Lewis is never better than here, materializing additional limbs to navigate the syncopated groove. As the album closes with the string-laden “Sweet,” Jackie Gage has found a balance in the squalls and tempests, with a simple plea: “please tell me you will always be / sweet to me.”
Siren Songs will be released officially March 15th on First Orbit Sounds.
The album release party will take place on Tuesday, March 15 at Yoshi’s Oakland in Oakland, California.