An invitation to Vancouver-based jazz singer Colleen Savage, to headline a vocal workshop and concert at Tulane University in New Orleans last February, brought with it a recording opportunity with the school’s jazz faculty. Savage recorded her new CD ALGIERS in New Orleans, accompanied by very active members of the jazz community there including, John Doheny, tenor saxophone (CBC radio’s ‘Our Man In New Orleans’); John Dobry, guitar; Jesse McBride, piano; Jim Markway, bass; and Geoff Clapp, drums.
ALGIERS, is a well-paced and effervescent collection of jazz standards that showcases Savage’s distinctive, soulful style and three-octave vocal range. Stand-out tunes on the CD include, Time After Time, a swinging treatment of a joyful classic; I Concentrate on You, interpreted with poignant, lyric urgency; and I Wanna Be Evil, a playful tribute to Eartha Kitt. Savage acted as producer and musical director on ALGIERS. For a largely unrehearsed situation, Savage created the arrangements for most of the songs, including Riverboat, an original song co-written by Vancouverites Gloria Davies and Peter Bromley. But to allow for that special New Orleans flavour several of the performances take shape based on spontaneous input from the players.
Music critics characterize Savage as “soulful and inventive,” “dynamic,” and “a standout”. From packed and sweaty rhythm and blues joints to concert stages across the country, she has entertained audiences for three decades. Savage’s versatility and scope derive from artfully blending sophisticated jazz repertoire with the essential warmth and emotion of rhythm and blues. This dynamic informed her work with the Vancouver band Mother of Pearl and is evidenced on her first CD, HALLELUJAH! (2006).
Savage has been a regular on the Vancouver jazz scene playing with award-winning musicians, the likes of Hugh Fraser, Phil Dwyer, Alan Matheson, and Michael Creber. She is a singer who comes on with energy and punch and has distinguished herself by virtue of her connection with the material she chooses.
“Jazz is simply elemental to a meaningful musical landscape. I need to help to keep it alive,” says Savage. “I have always felt that songs choose you,” she continues, “and these songs express my sense of place - aesthetic and emotional and cultural place.”