From Whirlwind Recordings:
Release Date: June 16, 2014: Worldwide Stores & Digital
“A huge vocal and instrumental talent, with an engagingly eccentric, sensual and feminine writing style that promises much for the future.” (The Jazz Mann).
Amongst the sea of burgeoning talent currently exploding out of the London creative music scene, singer-songwriter, violinist and pianist Alice Zawadzki firmly stands out from the crowd. The past few years she’s acquired quite a buzz across the UK music industry from fellow musicians, critics, club owners and fans alike, and the rave has been about her unique ability to communicate through her music with simple yet profound purity, not to mention she’s one of the most infectious vocalists and skilled songwriters to emerge in the UK for years.
Her diverse background and striking ability to perform across genres– while retaining her own intelligent and expressive musical style– give her a unique accessibility. It is no surprise that she is already becoming an in-demand singer both at home in London and internationally. Says London Jazz about Zawadzki, “The range of textures and colors, the expressive possibilities seemed more or less infinite.”
China Lane is the debut album from Zawadzki and the beginning of a new solo career by a standout voice in contemporary creative music. Written and arranged over five years it encompasses a rich collection of influences – from ancient Sephardic songs about loss, exodus and prejudice to Zawadzki’s modern fairy tales full of mischief, whimsy, obsession and magic, as well as Bartok-inspired folk stories about young love, with magnetic ballads and groove-infused delights. Zawadzki, who wrote most of the material on the album and performs as vocalist (singing authentically in multiple languages), violinist and pianist explains: “I finished writing the title track ‘China Lane’, in Berlin, in the summer of 2012. I had started writing lyrics for it in my old home of Manchester, moved by the beauty of the city at sunset and a deep sense of nostalgia. A simple description of what I could see soon became, in some way, a homage to living in the moment. The gentle background sounds of humming beer fridges mixed with passing Manchester buses on the recording makes me smile.”
And the supporting cast on China Lane features a stellar combination of bandmates and long term collaborators Alex Roth (guitar), Kit Downes (Hammond), Andreas Lang (bass), and Jon Scott (drums), who each bring playfulness and deep cohesion to the repertoire, with an evidently natural empathy.
The purple sounds of Kit Downes’ Hammond permeate the trip-hop inspired ‘Cat’; “it’s something of a modern fairytale to me”, says Zawadzki. “The ghost of a murdered feline finds it’s way into the body of a woman with excellent consequences.” Fantastical notions continue into ‘Ring of Fire’, with driving interplay between Scott and Lang eventually bringing the detailed folk melodies into a soulful jam. Darker episodes, however, have their place in ‘You As A Man’, described by Adrian Stevenson of the Manchester Jazz Festival as “a brave and touching expression of feelings on the topic of obsessional love that most singers would struggle to get close to.” Compositional influences from Steve Coleman’s M-Base serve to intensify the songs poignant lyrics.
The album is carefully and skillfully augmented with layers of cellos, violins and and additional voices. Cellist Shirley Smart features in one of the Sephardic interpretations. A brooding and languorous introduction between the cello and violin later gives way to Smart’s dazzling and virtuosic sound, full of intent and unique language. This ancient tradition is just one of many influences to be found on the record, it’s subject matter just as relevant today as when it was written. “As any kind of artist, you are dead when you stop putting yourself in other peoples shoes”, says Zawadzki.
The joyfully simple, cinematic and powerful ‘Low Sun; Lovely Pink Light’, features vocalists Emilia Mårtensson and Fini Bearman, with soaring wordless vocals and the delightful rises and falls of Alex Roth’s solo guitar. Inspired by the tiny island of Strynø in Denmark, Zawadzki writes: “It was deepest winter and the landscape was harsh and witchy. The sky, sea and land had all turned the same color, as if a painter had taken their brush and swirled the scene in circles with water until all blurred into one. And in the distance the sun was rising, amber and rose, the most beautiful I’d ever seen.”
A uniquely expressive performer and a gifted storyteller, Alice Zawadzki’s star is set to rise with the release of China Lane. It’s an astonishingly brave and assured debut, which takes the listener on a journey of love, compassion, conflict and joy.
1. Ring of Fire
3. Indome Para Marsilia
4. Dicho Me Habian Dicho
5. Low Sun; Lovely Pink
6. You As A Man
7. China Lane
“2014 has already been a triumphant year for female jazz vocalists. China Lane, the debut album from singer-songwriter and violinist Alice Zawadzki, may just be the most exciting of a rich crop. Zawadzki is a distinctive and individual presence, both as a singer and as a writer, and her own diverse background and immersion in different cultures makes for a compelling and entrancing listen. This is inclusive music that deserves to be heard.” – 4 Stars, Music OMH
“On China Lane, Zawadzki sounds like Zawadzki—it’s a sound that’s definitely worth hearing. A strong debut, the arrival of a musician with a distinctive voice and songwriting style.” – All About Jazz
“As a showcase of what Zawadzki can do China Lane is superb and Zawadzki clearly has a great deal to offer.” – JazzUK
Album of the Week, BBC Radio 3 (May 2014)
“The album was recorded over an extended period of five years, and in so doing captures the distinctiveness and breadth of Zawadzki’s musical endeavours.”
“Zawadzki, with her highly expressive voice, can switch at will from sounding like a pop singer on the title track to immersing herself in the Sephardic folk of ‘Dicho Me Habian Dicho’, in equal measure… a promising debut.” – Marlbank