How Love Begins
Release Date: July 7, 2023
Label: Outside In Music
GRAMMY NOMINEE

How Love Begins is the provocative new release from jazz singer songwriter and vocal/instrumental powerhouse Nicole Zuraitis. Co-produced by Christian McBride, How Love Begins is an ardent, vulnerable and relatable meditation on modern love that solidifies the GRAMMY nominated Zuraitis’ stature as one of the pre-eminent songwriters of our time. Alongside Zuraitis’ soaring vocals and pianistic refrains, How Love Begins features the aforementioned Christian McBride on the bass, Gilad Hekselman on guitar, Maya Kronfeld on organ, Wurlitzer and Rhodes, and Dan Pugach on drums. The album also features special guests David Cook on piano, Billy Kilson on drums and Sonica – a co-led vocal trio comprised of Thana Alexa, Julia Adamy and Zuraitis.

“Perhaps this album should have been called “How Love Begins… and Ends,”” Zuraitis says wryly, commenting on the duality she distinctly presents in the two-part structure of the release. To illustrate the many phases of love, she divides her 10-track collection in halves titled ‘part I: oil’ and ‘part II: water’. This format, which verifies the idea that “opposites attract”, embodies a story of romance initially blessed with harmony yet eventually plagued with discord.

Propelled by the notion that the polarity of love can often be coincidental,  Zuraitis conceptualized ‘Oil’ and ‘Water’ spontaneously after a visceral reaction she had to the work of Spanish conservation photographer Daniel Beltrá.  She stumbled upon his collection “Spill”, which at first glance looked to her like paintings with beautiful color patterns created from the brush of an artist.   “When I learned that the stunnings works of art, with their swirling colors and perfectly placed hues, were actually aerial photographs of the most devastating oil spill in history, my heart sank,” she describes. “The irony was not lost on me. Just like a love that ends too soon, the common thread is that some of the most beautiful things in life can also be the most heartbreaking.”

The Deep Water Horizon oil spill destruction combined with the beautiful scope of Beltrá’s imagery struck a chord with Zuraitis.  In effect, How Love Begins efforts to depict the all-encompassing journey of modern love, including the beauty of taking chances, the complexity of desire, the fragility of emotion, the blemishes left when chapters close and the long standing optimism of starting anew.  The album was conceived between Zuraitis and Christian McBride in 2021 after several years of dreaming about collaborating. The musical partners first crossed paths at the Red Eye Grill in New York City where Zuraitis had a longstanding residency, just a few months after she placed in the International Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocal Competition. Following many years of mutual admiration, the two artists finally come together on this fruitful collaboration.

“Working with Nicole was an absolute thrill. She does everything at the highest level: singing, playing, writing, producing, and arranging,” shares Christian McBride. “I’m putting big, big money on Nicole. I can’t wait to see her career explode.”

Musically, How Love Begins pays homage to many of Zuraitis’ favorite songwriters from Tin Pan Alley to today. Similar to the great composers of yesteryear, Zuraitis succeeded in composing material that is raw and relatable, with the potential of living on for generations. “I don’t want to be the only person singing these songs I write” she adds, fervently insisting that her goal is for jazz enthusiasts and professionals alike to add her songs to their repertoire.

The first section of How Love Begins, ‘part I: oil’, places the listener in a musical depiction of the thunderous excitement of a new flame that is just beginning, with slippery twists and turns. In “The Good Ways,” Zuraitis warns “You’re simply dangerous, like shock waves” and later “A little heat, a lot of spice / mysterious, never plays nice.” The adventure continues with “Travel” on which a broad, cinematic soundscape is presented by the rhythm section over which Zuraitis’ vocals soar, seemingly bursting with the desire to maintain the listeners autonomy and freedom.

She explores the vicissitudes of daydreams in her arrangement of the Debussy classic “Reverie” which has original lyrics penned by Zuraitis that meditate on how the mind grows occupied with “undeniable whirlpools of fantasy.” “Let Me Love You” is a poetic highlight with Zuraitis wrestling with the question: “Will you ever let me love you?” and later “Does this game ever end?” We’ve all been there before. But at least now we have a song that keeps us company.

The final piece of “part I” is “Burn” – an up-tempo and brisk jaunt, beginning with a notable counterpoint between Zuraitis and McBride. The band enters leading to a stellar guitar solo. Hekselman glides through the progression with angular lines, followed by McBride with a punchy, walking solo. The final lyric “I think i’ll finally try a new romance” conveniently sets the listener up for part II, though trepidation lurks.

Beginning the second section, ‘part II: water”, listeners dive into the deep with “Two Fish” where Zuraitis admires, “how great, the depth of their love”, painting a picture of storybook endings. The feel-good but filled with disquieting subtext of  “Well Planned, Well Played” outlines a recipe for modern love, featuring “caffeine and affirmations”, despite being “deeply overwhelmed.” The album takes an emotional spiral with two thought-provoking numbers: “20 Seconds” and “Like Dew”.  Ominous lyrics like “Alarm bells ring a warning sound” and “change flows like blood to the heart, while we’re growing further apart” set the scene. Though the fire was lit in part I, allusions to tears and water insinuate flames turning to smoke.  “The Garden” comes full circle with melancholic optimism and acceptance, with the hope of starting again.

“If you listen a moment past the final track you may find faint glimmers of hope for the future, saved for a rainy day,” Zuraitis insinuates.

All Wandering Hearts
Release Date: July 31, 2020
Label: Dot Time Records

Dot Time Records recording artist Nicole Zuraitis’ fourth album as a bandleader, All Wandering Hearts explores the raw emotions and tribulations of life on the road as a full-time musician. Listeners will take a journey through genre-bending jazz-adjacent soundscapes that are both complex and lyrical in nature. Delving into themes of love, loss, and exploration, the album is an insight into the experience of the creative mind in today’s socio-political climate. Alongside Nicole, the album features an all-star cast of New York City based musicians including Idan Morim on guitar, Dan Pugach on drums, Alex Busby Smith on bass, Carmen Staaf on the rhodes and organ, Thana Alexa on vocals, Elise Testone on vocals and Chase Potter on strings.

All Wandering Hearts consists of seven original compositions by Zuraitis, and three unique arrangements of classic songs. On this impassioned release, Zuraitis taps into the psyche of modern-day America with her clever songwriting and stunning vocal performance. The tracks of this album cover major issues that working artists face on the road such as maintaining their mental and physical health, homesickness, relationship woes, coping with death, social media burnout, exhaustion, mercurial emotions and the constant worry of making ends meet. “With this diversion into the songwriting world, I wanted to pay homage to my jazz roots and the great american songbook,” Zuraitis notes.

All Wandering Hearts begins with a Zuraitis original, the dynamic “Make it Flood”; a beautifully vulnerable proclamation of hope. “Make it Flood” introduces audiences to the stunning interplay of this steadfast rhythm section and Nicole’s warm, virtuosic vocal stylings. This track begins our journey on a collection of songs which allow us insight into the inner workings of a wandering heart, and the mind of a musician who works six nights a week while doing her best to make time for her spouse, foster dogs and her family. The album continues with the second track “The Way Home”, a fiery song that documents the pain of loss and the feeling of missing a loved one, and at once is a reminder to “find your way home” when you’re feeling lost. Stellar guitar-work from Idan Morim and string playing from Chase Potter surround Nicole’s assured refrains.

“Overdrive Mind” echoes the voices of many who find solace in escaping from harsh realities and the constant pressures that one puts on themselves through secluding oneself. The track speaks to mental health woes that can be associated with the lifestyle of the modern-day musician, but also makes a much larger message about the stigma of mental health in our culture.

Aside from Nicole’s captivating original compositions, All Wandering Hearts features three new arrangements of classic songs that speak to the album’s overarching themes of traveling, both abroad and inward. “Send Me On My Way”, another song chronicling an inner journey, originally written and recorded by 90’s rock band Rusted Root gets a soulful makeover by Zuraitis. “What a Wonderful World” written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, popularized by Louis Armstrong, gets a stripped down solemn treatment made particularly impactful given the devastating effect of Covid-19 on the country’s current socio-political climate, and collective emotional well-being. Nicole laments “What a Wonderful World used to be such a hopeful song for me; but the current world climate both physically and politically, makes the song translate as pure melancholy. But the intention of hope is still there.”

for How Love Begins

JAZZ QUAD
Check out the full feature in Russian here.

BASS MAGAZINE
"Similar to the great composers of yesteryear, Zuraitis succeeded in composing material that is raw and relatable, with the potential of living on for generations." Read the full feature here.

BOBBY PATRICK
BROADWAY WORLD
"...'Nicole Zuraitis' collection of singles is a lush and lovely mini-collection for true lovers of jazz..." Read the full review here.

JAMIE LEE RACK
SHEPERD EXPRESS
"Throughout, Zuraitis’ command of breath and tone, especially on the snakier passages of her self-written compositions, aptly convey emotions surrounding the stages of the relationship she details." Read the full review here.

BOBBY PATRICK
BROADWAY WORLD
"For this album, Nicole Zuraitis has used deep imagery in the marriage of her words and music..." Read the full review here.

JIM HYNES
MAKING A SCENE
"How Love Begins is a compelling, provocatively themed album that will immediately seize your attention and won’t let go." Read the full review here.

RICHARD B. KAMINS
STEP TEMPEST
"How Love Begins" is a smashing album, filled with fine songs, excellent musicianship, led by a vocalist whose voice is inviting, intimate, playful, and emotionally real." Read the full review here.

MORGAN ENOS
LONDON JAZZ NEWS
Read the article with the full interview here.

LANCE LIDDLE
BEBOP SPOKEN HERE
"Yet another superb woman singer with a rich, expressive, wide-ranging, voice, singing mostly her own compositions to sumptuous music." Read full blog post here.

MARILYN LESTER
THE NEW YORK JAZZ RECORD
"Holding a mirror to life, Zuraitis reflects truths with an inherent positivity in her voice, no doubt stemming from the amazing vocal control she learned when studying classical singing" Check out the full article  here.

EDITOR
NITE LIFE EXCHANGE
"Zuraitis divides the ten songs into two sections entitled “part I: oil” and “part II: water” to connote initial bliss and inevitable discords that follow, yet moving beyond the cliché that oil and water don’t mix." Check out the full article  here.

WILL FRIEDWALD
THE NEW YORK SUN
"I enjoy the richness and even the density of the multilayered tracks, but I also embrace the spareness, the openness, and the vulnerability of Zuraitis performing the same songs in person at Birdland." Check out the full review here.

J. POET
DOWNBEAT
"Zuraitis sings in a comfortable tone, adding melismatic accents to deepen the sense of comfort and well-being love can bring." Check out the full article here.

DAN BILAWSKY
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Nicole Zuraitis—a first-rate songwriter, powerhouse vocalist and grade-A pianist—proves to be an expert cartographer, mapping out every detail, nuance and shade of emotion surrounding the arc of a relationship.  " Check out the full article here.

EDITOR
HOT HOUSE JAZZ
"It is hard to think of Nicole Zuraitis as either a pianist or a vocalist. Whether on-stage or on any of her iconic albums, she personifies the famous adage that the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts." Check out the full article here.

SUZANNE LORGE
THE NEW YORK JAZZ RECORD
"You should hear these 10 originals in two parts, the first entitled “oil” and the second “water”. It’s a lesson, Zuraitis explains, in the conflict that can beset even the most harmonious of relationships." Check out the full article  here.

D. OSCAR GROOMES
O'S PLACE JAZZ MAGAZINE
Vocalist, pianist, composer, arranger and producer Nicole Zuraitis puts her passionate, bluesy vocals on top of a band that matches her energy on How Love Begins. Maya Kronfeld (B3), Gilad Hekselman (g), Christian McBride (b) and Dan Pugach (d) are fully engaged on cookers like “The Good Ways” and contemporary, pop ballads like “Travel”. Hekselman shines on the fusion-based “Reverie”, then plays in a duet with Zuraitis on “Let Me Love You”. They swing on “Burn” featuring McBride and guest David Cook (p), then warm our hearts on “The Garden”. The varied approaches make this a winner!

THOMAS CUNNIFFE
JAZZ HISTORY ONLINE
"This elegant concept album brings a fresh approach to a familiar narrative." Check out the full review here.

EDITOR
WOMEN IN JAZZ MAGAZINE
"Nicole Zuritis is a truly unique vocalist, song writer and musician" Check out the full article here.

MICHAEL AMBROSINO 
33 THIRD
"After years of singing in the shadows, this gorgeously appointed album finds Zuraitus manifesting her art in an unapologetic fashion that will take your breath away." Check out the full review here.

RICHARD B. KAMINS
STEP TEMPEST
"Ms. Zuraitis's vocal work is the most assured of her career and co-Producer McBride makes sure we also hear what a fine pianist she is." Check out the full review here.

TOM HAUGEN
TAKE EFFECT REVIEWS 

"Zuraitis explores many facets to love here, both the joyous and the difficult, and it’s a universally relatable affair..." Check out the full article here.

NBC CONNECTICUT
Check out this feature on Nicole's amazing GRAMMY win here.

BOBBY PATRICK
BROADWAY WORLD
"Winner of the prestigious American Traditions Vocal Competition Gold Medal in 2021, Zuraitis is one of New York City’s busiest and most versatile entertainers. " Read more about her GRAMMY win here.

KRISTINA DORSEY 
THE DAY 

Check out this article here.

ROBERT LESTER
TALKIN' BROADWAY

"How Love Begins reveals more of the multiple facets of this adventurous woman of jazz." Check out this review here.

STEPHANIE SIMON 
SPECTRUM NEWS

Check out this awesome interview here.

HOST
ALL THAT'S JAZZ PODCAST

"As Jazz Police aptly put it, Nicole has a “heart as big as her remarkable voice,” and Broadway World added, she’s one of the top "prolific songwriters" to watch in the genre of jazz and beyond." Listen to the full podcast here.

for All Wandering Hearts

STEPHEN MOSHER
BROADWAY WORLD
"Greatness is not new to Nicole Zuraitis." Read the full review here.

 

MARILYN LESTER
THEATER PIZZAZZ
"The lyric and undertone of her vocalizing still communicate hope, but hope feeling the impact of the current world socio-political climate." Read the full review here.

 

ALAN YOUNG
NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY
“Zuraitis has an intense, big-picture presence: her mind always seems to be racing, and she’s always looking for a respite, a reprieve. And she can be a hell of a lyricist." Read the full review here.

BOBBY REED
DOWNBEAT
Nicole Zuraitis Showcases Superb Songcraft With ‘Hearts’ Album. Read the full feature article here.

JIM HYNES
MAKING A SCENE!
"This is far more interesting than the bulk of so-called jazz vocal albums, due to Nicole’s musicianship, her willingness to take some chances, and her infusion of other genres into her singular sound." Read the full review here.

 

CHRIS SPECTOR
MIDWEST RECORDS
"An inspiring set that is just right for anyone that misses Joni Mitchell flights of fancy when she brought the jazz and her audience wasn't ready for it. Tasty stuff throughout, contemporary jazz vocal fans have a nice, meaty date to really sink their teeth into here." Read the full review here.

AARON COHAN
DOWNBEAT
"All Wandering Hearts, her fourth album as leader, shows how the vocalist and pianist adapts the skills learned from fronting large bands to a set of solid pop songs." Review here

JAZZ RADIO FRANCE
See French feature piece here

DAN BILASWKY
JAZZTIMES
"Her impressive handiwork remains accessible and, while tailored to her own experiences, fits comfortably around a wider reality."  Read the full review here.

 

GENO THACKARA
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"Her delivery maintains an intimate tone that remains relatable throughout; here she's an actress as much as a singer, conveying emotional shades without quite emoting." Read the full review here.

 

 

D. OSCAR GROOMES
O'S PLACE
"Vocalist, pianist, composer, arranger and producer Nicole Zuraitis has been decorated at every step of her musical career." Read the full review here.

EDITOR
CANCION QUEMARROPA
Read review in Spanish here.