Pianist and vocalist Kelly Green presents Seems, a musical rallying cry for unity in the face of societal, natural, and spiritual division – out March 29, 2024
Kelly Green is a brilliant pianist, vocalist, and composer who has an inimitable presence on the NYC Jazz scene. Having headlined iconic venues including The Kennedy Center, Dizzy’s Jazz Club, and the DC Jazz Festival and having shared stages with jazz giants such as Steve Wilson, George Coleman, and Scott Robinson, it is no surprise that Green’s first three albums were received with great acclaim through written reviews and consistent radio play. Armed with this manifold experience and equipped with mastery from her time as a protege to legendary pianists Harold Mabern and Mulgrew Miller, Green strikes forward once again and presents Seems. This album releases March 29 and stands as a rallying cry for unity amidst widespread and variegated division. Appearing alongside Green on the album is her stalwart quartet of Evan Hyde (drums), Luca Soul Rosenfeld (bass), and Elijah J. Thomas (flute), with special guest appearances by the masterful Rich Perry (tenor saxophone).
For Green, Seems stands as much more than an album of music; it is a recorded statement of hope, an optimistic manifesto, and a call issued for concordance across the human species, both with one another and with the world we inhabit. “The illusion of separateness seems to prevail,” Green explains. “Between groups of people, the human race and the natural world, and individualized Souls and the One unifying Spirit. This album is an expression of my yearning for unity and an attempt to exemplify that through our love for one another and for our audience.” Through a carefully curated exhibition of original works, lovingly crafted arrangements, and a blend of vocal and instrumental features that is refreshingly balanced, Green successfully embarks on her sonic quest to unite her audiences.
The album’s title, Seems, is a synecdochic representation of a broader mantra: “Things are not as they seem; with a closer look, all are one.” This statement carries with it multiple layers of meaning, referencing a wider, societal interpretation, and a closer, more personal view of Green’s music. The former is a comment stemming from Green’s cogitation on the world around us. “It may seem to us that the physical reality is all there is. It may seem like the human race is a species apart from the natural world. It may seem to us that there are separate groups of people whose world views will always clash and keep us at war,” Green says. “Upon further personal study I’ve come to realize that there is only one Spirit which is the common thread that binds each individualized soul to each other, stitching us together at the seams.” The title, Seems, then acts as a summary for Green’s perspective, while simultaneously standing as wordplay on the idea of stitching society together at the seams. The second layer of meaning refers to Green’s musical persona. “It may seem to some people that my output as an artist is only one thing, whether that be vocal or instrumental, traditional or modern, composed or improvised,” Green says. “However, my music encompasses all of those musical subsets. The open-mindedness and versatility of the musicians in the band is what ties these seemingly opposed elements together.” Indeed, throughout this album, Green utilizes what in other situations may be seen as disparate elements to stitch together a cohesive narrative to bolster and execute her call for unity.
As a composer and arranger, Green writes to serve the lyrics and the melody, embracing a highly emotive tradition to bring her music to life. All her music is recorded without overdubs, allowing listeners to hear the true, raw sound as if they were at a live performance. As such, on every track featuring vocals, Green recorded her vocals and piano simultaneously, as this is how she performs live. Musically, Green’s style is influenced by the now-classic sound of 1950s and 1960s bandleaders, evoking the sensibilities of Shirley Horn, Blossom Dearie, Nat King Cole, and Ahmad Jamal. This timeless soundscape intertwined into Green’s emotion-first compositional style creates an immersive listening experience for audiences that strikes the head and heart simultaneously.
The album’s blend of originals and arrangements, and vocal-driven and instrumental features keeps listeners drawn in and attentive as each new track, while unified thematically, poses an exciting element of orchestrational unpredictability. “What To Do” is a lyric-based original piece that weaves together the instrumental and vocal elements flawlessly. Thematically exhorting audiences to pursue truth, love their fellow man, and show love to the earth around them, this piece straddles the line between Green’s grief at the state of the human species currently with underpinnings of hope for what people are capable of achieving as we seek out truth. Featuring a pensive bass solo that hands off to Green’s emotional piano solo with provocative background lines improvised by Thomas on flute, “What To Do” captures succinctly and heart-rendingly what it sets out to achieve. “Rich’s Stitches” was composed by Green specifically for Rich Perry, who makes his second of two guest appearances on this track. “The emotional affect of Rich Perry’s sound inspired me to write this instrumental piece to feature him and to convey the theme of the common thread that runs through all living things, Spirit,” Green tells. “To me, Rich’s lines represent the thread that will stitch the world back together, rather than let it continue to be ripped apart at its seams.”
“World Of My Own” is the opening song from the 1951 animated Disney Classic, Alice in Wonderland. With lyrics that express hope for a deeper connection to and understanding of the natural world, Green knew that this piece was a must to add to the overall concept of Seems. With a melody that naturally lends itself to the straight-ahead swing feel the band placed on it, this track is an instant hit that accentuates the album’s message with spirited joy and uplifting groove. The track “Down That Road” stands out as a stylistic contrast, and showcases Green’s breadth as a composer, arranger, and improviser. An original work, “Down That Road” is an instrumental piece that highlights the intricate interplay and conversational ability of the band, the mastery of their instruments, and their trust for one another. “The title signifies the concept that every moment is a choice between a grievance and a miracle,” Green says. “As individuals, our mental and spiritual health is determined by our ability to choose the miracle and not go down that road of hopelessness, despair, and self loathing.”
With Seems, Green presents a profound statement that deeply pours from herself into the hearts and souls of her listeners. Whether singing, playing, or leading the band, Green performs and composes with an honesty and openness that lends a scintillating authenticity to her message.
Seems releases digitally and on CD and vinyl on March 29, 2024 via Green Soul Studios.
- Down That Road (Kelly Green) – 4:50
- World of My Own (Sammy Fain/Bob Hilliard) – 3:28
- Lonely One (Babs Gonzalez) – 5:51
- Street Cleaning (Kelly Green) – 7:04
- By The Way (Kelly Green) – 4:18
- What To Do (Kelly Green) – 5:56
- Moonlight Saving Time (Irving Kahal/Harry Richman) – 3:48
- Rich’s Stitches (Kelly Green) – 7:31
- Try Your Wings (Michael Barr/Dion McGregor) 2:53