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New album from vocalist Lauren White

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    Posted: 06 May 2019 at 11:26am

Vocalist LAUREN WHITE likes to think outside the box. On her last CD, Out of the Past, Jazz & Noir, she presented a program of songs that were associated with some of the most popular movies of the Film Noir era. Her prior project, Experiment, was a tribute to Irene Kral, who was known for her subtle and emotive interpretation of ballads. On White's newest CD, LIFE IN THE MODERNWORLD, White presents a collection of newer tunes and re-imagined standards that are most assuredly off the beaten track. From fresh takes on songs by Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, and Hoagy Carmichael to contemporary writers like Mark Winkler, Kathryn Bostic, and Ron Boustead, White uses her warm, smoky voice and crystal clear diction to tell stories with nuance and refinement.
Besides being an accomplished singer, White has also found considerable success as a producer on the hit HBO show Homeland. Despite her very busy schedule, music and performing have always been central to her life. A regular in many clubs in Los Angeles, including Catalina Bar & Grill, the legendary Cinegrill and the Bel Age Hotel, she's also performed at Pangea, the Metropolitan Room, and the Triad in New York City.
White spends a lot time travelling between the coasts and is accompanied on this CD by some of the top players on both the Los Angeles and New York jazz scenes. Musicians include KEVIN AXT and DAVID FINCK on bass, MARVIN "SMITTY" SMITH and CHRIS WABICH on drums, KEVIN WINARD on drums & percussion, GRANT GEISSMAN on guitar, ALEX BUDMAN on horns, FRANCISCO TORRES on trombone, TATUM GREENBLATT and MICHAEL STEVER on trumpet. But the core of her work on this project is the collaborative relationships she has with pianist QUINN JOHNSON and producer/vocalist/lyricist MARK WINKLER.
Johnson was the music director/pianist for Steve Tyrell for 16 years. He's worked with some of the top names in jazz and pop including Tom Scott, Poncho Sanchez, Flora Purim,  Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, and Rita Coolidge, among many others. He also accompanied White and wrote the arrangements for her Experiment album. Winkler is a mainstay on the Southern California jazz scene. With 16 CDs as a leader and over 250 of his songs performed or recorded by such artists as Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit, Bob Dorough, and Liza Minnelli, he's also become a go-to producer for many Los Angeles-area jazz vocalists. Winkler produced White's Out of the Past, Jazz & Noir project, as well.
"This is the first time I've worked with both Mark and Quinn on the same project," says White. "I love Quinn's arrangements and especially his engaging solos. Our musical tastes are really in sync. And Mark brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the studio. He's a terrific and incredibly supportive vocal producer. Working with the two of them together has been a dream."
White opens the album with the title tune, "Life in the Modern World," composed by Ivan Lins with lyrics by Brock Walsh. The song was originally performed by the Crusaders, and although it is rarely performed, White became familiar with it through a video of British vocalist Norma Winstone.
"Signing Off" is another lesser-known treasure that White discovered listening to music on her iPhone while travelling across the country. The song is a lovely ballad that first appeared on Ella Fitzgerald's 1961 album Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! Ella also wrote the lyrics.
White tackles some better-known standards, like "How Little We Know," which was written for the 1944 film "To Have and Have Not," by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer. The song was originally sung by Lauren Bacall with Hoagy Carmichael on piano. Johnson spices up the tune with a cha-cha arrangement.
"Midnight Sun" by Lionel Hampton and Johnny Mercer is a standard that has been a favorite of many jazz singers. Winkler thought it would be interesting to mix things up a bit and asked Eli Brueggemann, who is the musical director for "Saturday Night Live," to write the arrangement. White's vocals float and slide over the funky rhythmic arrangement.
Living in Los Angeles gives White access to some of the most musically creative people in the country, and she included three songs by local songwriters on this disc. She sings a duet with Winkler on a swinging version of "Till I Get It Right." The song was composed by pianist Stuart Elster with lyrics by Winkler.
"Coffee" is a tune by Ken Kresge and Ron Boustead. White likes the song because of its real Los Angeles café feel. Boustead is also a vocalist, and White first heard the tune at Boustead's CD release show for his latest project.
"Slow Down" was written and arranged by Kathryn Bostic, who is a composer, singer and songwriter, known for her work on film, TV and live theater. She is a recipient of many fellowships and awards including the prestigious Sundance Time Warner Fellowship, among others. The tune features a fun, funky three horn arrangement.
The album closes with Paul Simon's "American Tune." Written in the 1970s, White chose to end the CD with this song because of its relevance today. She was surprised to learn that Johnson had never heard the tune before, but she felt that was an advantage, because he updated it with a fresh, new arrangement.
With songs from just about every decade from the 1940s until today, LIFE IN THE MODERN WORLD, with its hip, new arrangements, is certainly a project for our modern times. In both of her careers, White is first and foremost a storyteller.  Musically, she tells her stories with the warmth and maturity that come directly from the heart.

LIFE IN THE MODERN WORLD is available in stores and online everywhere.
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