Zara McFarlane, + Special Guest James Tillman

Zara McFarlane

+ Special Guest James Tillman

DJ Duane Harriot (WFMU / Negroclash / Other Music)

Fri, June 20, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$12.00 - $15.00

This event is 21 and over

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Zara McFarlane - (Set time: 10:30 PM)
Zara McFarlane
ZARA MCFARLANE’S DEBUT ALBUM, 2011’S UNTIL TOMORROW, CAME GARLANDED WITH RAVE REVIEWS AND A MOBO AWARD NOMINATION, AND HERALDED A MAJOR NEW TALENT IN THE WORLD OF BRITISH JAZZ. THE FOLLOW-UP, ALSO RECORDED FOR GILLES PETERSON’S BROWNSWOOD RECORDINGS, IS A MORE AMBITIOUS COLLECTION THAT DRAWS FROM MANY MORE INFLUENCES: FROM THE DEEP SPIRITUAL JAZZ OF PHAROAH SANDERS TO DUB AND REGGAE.

“WITH THE FIRST ALBUM,” SAYS ZARA, “I WAS TRYING TO CREATE A COHESIVE SOUND, ONE THAT USED THE SAME LINE UP AND THE SAME INSTRUMENTATION THROUGHOUT. THIS TIME THE FOCUS IS ON THE SONGWRITING, AND THE ARRANGEMENTS ARE TAILOR-MADE TO SUIT EACH SONG. THERE’S A LOT MORE VARIATION – AROUND HALF OF THE TRACKS ARE DUETS, AND I USE MORE THAN ONE BAND. IF THERE IS A UNIFIED, COHESIVE THEME, IT’S IN THE LYRICS: THE SONGS REPRESENT A JOURNEY THROUGH A WOMAN’S LIFE.”

GILLES PETERSON HAS BEEN A KEY FIGURE IN ZARA’S CAREER. THEY FIRST MET WHEN SHE WAS PERFORMING WITH THE HOUSE MUSIC PROJECT BOPSTAR AT THE SOUTHPORT WEEKENDER IN MAY 2010, WHERE SHE GAVE HIM AN EP OF ACOUSTIC JAZZ SONGS SHE’D RECORDED. WITHIN A FEW MONTHS, AN IMPRESSED PETERSON HAD SIGNED ZARA TO HIS BROWNSWOOD RECORDINGS LABEL, AND THAT EP EVENTUALLY PROVIDED THE BASIS FOR HER DEBUT ALBUM UNTIL TOMORROW.

“GILLES HAS BEEN AN INCREDIBLY ENTHUSIASTIC PERSON TO WORK WITH,” SAYS ZARA. “WITH THE FIRST ALBUM, I’D RECORDED MOST OF IT BEFORE HE’D SIGNED ME, BUT THIS TIME HE’S BEEN MORE INVOLVED IN ITS CREATION AND MADE SUGGESTIONS. HE’S PASSIONATE ABOUT ALL KINDS OF MUSIC, NOT JUST JAZZ, WHICH HAS ALLOWED ME TO EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT SOUNDS.”

ZARA MCFARLANE WAS BORN 30 YEARS AGO INTO A JAMAICAN FAMILY IN DAGENHAM, ON THE BORDERS OF ESSEX AND LONDON. SHE GREW UP IN A HOUSEHOLD THAT LOVED REGGAE (“WE PLAYED IT ALL THE TIME – PARTIES, SOCIAL GATHERINGS, WEDDINGS, FUNERALS, YOU NAME IT!”), AS WELL AS THE R&B OF MICHAEL JACKSON AND LUTHER VANDROSS. HER TV DEBUT CAME AT THE TENDER AGE OF 14, WHEN SHE DID A LAURYN HILL IMPRESSION ON STARS IN THEIR EYES AGAINST A LINE-UP OF GROWN UPS.

SHE WAS EDUCATED AT A LOCAL COMPREHENSIVE BEFORE MOVING TO THE BRIT SCHOOL IN CROYDON IN HER SIXTH-FORM TO STUDY MUSICAL THEATRE. “I FELL IN LOVE WITH MUSICALS AND LEARNED TONS OF OLD SHOWTUNES,” SAYS ZARA. “I QUICKLY REALISED THAT THEY WERE ALSO JAZZ STANDARDS, AND I ALWAYS PREFERRED THE JAZZ VERSIONS.” AFTER A BMUS DEGREE IN POPULAR MUSIC PERFORMANCE FROM THE TECH MUSIC SCHOOL IN ACTON (PART OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WEST LONDON) SHE STARTED TO PURSUE HER LOVE OF JAZZ, STUDYING JAZZ AND IMPROVISATION AT THE GUILDHALL SCHOOL OF MUSIC & DRAMA.

WHEN NOT WORKING ON HER OWN MATERIAL, ZARA HAS PERFORMED AS A FEATURED VOCALIST IN GARY CROSBY’S SKA ORCHESTRA JAZZ JAMAICA, AND PERFORMED WITH ESTEEMED BRITISH JAZZERS SUCH AS ORPHY ROBINSON, DENYS BAPTISTE AND SOWETO KINCH. SHE’S MADE HOUSE MUSIC WITH BOPSTAR AND PAID TRIBUTE TO TAMMI TERRELL WITH NORWEGIAN DJ/PRODUCER DALMINJO. HER TRACKS HAVE BEEN REMIXED AND REWORKED BY THE LIKES OF VIENNESE TECHNO DUO OGRIS DEBRIS, NINJA TUNE’S FLOATING POINTS, AFRO-FUNKER OSUNLADE AND SPACE-JAZZERS EMANATIVE. SHE’S FRONTED ITALIAN DJ NICOLA CONTE’S BIG BAND, PERFORMED AT A NINA SIMONE TRIBUTE CONCERT IN AMSTERDAM AND PLAYED SUPPORT FOR SOUTH AFRICAN TRUMPETER HUGH MASEKELA AND AMERICAN SINGER GREGORY PORTER. AT THE UPCOMING LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL SHE’LL BE APPEARING OPPOSITE DIANNE REEVES (QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL, 20 NOVEMBER). SHE ALSO MAINTAINS A ROLE IN EDUCATION, TEACHING WORKSHOPS IN VOCALS AND IMPROVISATION AROUND BRITAIN AND EUROPE.

“I LOVE ALL AREAS OF THIS WORK – THE TEACHING, THE PERFORMING – BUT THIS ALBUM SHOWCASES WHAT I’M MOST INTO AT THE MOMENT, WHICH IS WRITING,” SHE SAYS. “THESE SONGS ON THIS NEW ALBUM ARE MORE PERSONAL THAN ANYTHING I’VE EVER WRITTEN. IT’S ME OPENING UP, TAKING LISTENERS ON A JOURNEY.”
+ Special Guest James Tillman - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
+ Special Guest James Tillman
Hailing from Washington, DC, singer-songwriter and musician James Tillman fell in love with the sound of music at an early age. Exposure to his parents’ extensive album collection, which included everything from Afrika Bambaataa to Joni Mitchell, and solo karaoke concerts with a Fisher Price toy cassette player planted musical seeds within him. A knock out church performance of ‘This Little Light of Mine” at age 9 and learning to play Mozart’s Clarinet concerto by 16 helped those musical seeds to take root and flourish. James’ unwavering desire to become a singer was ignited by iconic artists such as Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye and D’Angelo. After discovering that Marvin Gaye was a native Washingtonian, James became further driven to forge his own musical path. Drenched in the tradition of these greats yet also inspired by contemporary producers, James’ sound is rooted in soulful R&B with a modern twist.

In 2010, James realized that a career in accounting was not for him, so he made the decision to leave the University of Virginia and become a voice major at The New School in New York City. His family members were disappointed and some of his friends and advisers thought he was crazy to leave such a great school, but James knew his artistic ability would only flourish if he immersed himself in the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Sacrifice and struggle were recurring themes over the next few years, but through discipline, perseverance, and sheer passion James steadily pursued his craft and began to find his way and mold his sound. In the midst of keeping up with a demanding school load and working multiple jobs to pay rent, James taught himself to play guitar and held music sessions with his friends from school. He received the opportunity to go on tour as a back-up vocalist for NBC’s America’s Got Talent popular contestant, Alice Tan Ridley. Stepping out on his own, James has been steadily creating a fan base. He has performed all around New York City at venues such as: Rockwood Music Hall, Bowery Electric, B. B. King’s Blues Club, Shrine World Music Venue, Drom, Pianos and more.

James released his debut EP, Shangri La, on April 29, 2014, and his begun to catch the ear of music industry. He has been written about by various blogs and publications including Okayplayer.com and Essence Magazine. His music has been played on various radio stations, including KCRW and Gilles Peterson’s BBC 6 radio program. James’ goal with the Shangri La EP is to reacquaint the world with meaningful lyrics and soul music that makes you feel good. This project focuses on the unique elements of love that stir the soul. Based in earnest artistry and love, James is destined to create timeless music. There is no limit for this young talent.