Nicole Henry – Embraceable
After releasing a trio of critically-acclaimed albums and amassing reams of rave reviews and accolades about her live performances, Nicole Henry could have simply continued singing the Great American Songbook to blissfully satiate discerning music listeners. But like the truly gifted artist that she is, Henry deemed the time right to change, grow and expand her artistic muse. Audacious and undaunted in the face of uncertainty and risk, the highly rewarding result is Embraceable, an exquisite and elegantly performed twelve-song collection that adeptly delivers material certain to please those familiar with Henry’s soul-stirring artistry while garnering ardent admirers beyond jazz.
Grammy nominated producer Matt Pierson (Kirk Whalum, Jane Monheit, Joshua Redman) produced the gorgeous record that will be released August 23rdthrough ArtistShare, a unique platform that invites fans to help finance and follow the creative process of their favorite artist’s recording project through exclusive behind-the-scenes video clips, photos and updates.
While jazz standards are timeless, Henry is a young, radiant, contemporary woman and an innate story-teller who desired to pour her passion into newer songs about experiences and emotions related to love and romance that she could establish as her own “modern standards.” Henry and Pierson elected to record four original songs for Embraceable, including a pair of soulful ballads from gospel/R&B artist John Stoddart (“Anything For You” and “Even While You’re Gone”), the triumphant affirmation “Hush Now” penned by Oli Rockberger, and collaborated with Stoddart and Doug Emery to compose the rousing “A Little Time Alone,” featuring Kirk Whalum’s soaring sax and a celestial, Sunday morning churchlike Henry vocal.
Whether it be a Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil tune (“Just A Little Lovin’”), a signature song from Bob Marley (“Waiting In Vain”), or a Gershwin classic (“Embraceable You”), each song emerges from the core of her being. Although Henry possesses the vocal power capable of lighting up her hometown of Philadelphia, instead she skillfully lets her voice caress, emoting with the same kind of iconic grace, class and control from which legends are made. And when she does release her full command, it’s genuine, poignant and stunning.
Pierson was savvy to maintain the sense of warmth and intimacy that Henry’s alluring voice fosters naturally by using only live instrumentation, including horn and string sections. Recorded in New York City, he summoned world-class musicians to contribute to Embraceable including Whalum, guitarists Julian Lage, Jef Lee Johnson and Larry Campbell, Gerald Clayton (piano), Shedrick Mitchell (organ), Gregoire Maret (harmonica), Larry Grenadier (bass), Eric Harland (drums), Bashiri Johnson (percussion), and Gil Goldstein (piano), the latter of who splendidly arranged “Waiting In Vain” and “Embraceable You.”
“The creation of Embraceable afforded me a wonderful opportunity to challenge myself to grow musically, personally and professionally. I wanted to take a larger step in a new direction. And we know change is often met with resistance – even when it is self-initiated. Embraceable reflects a process of letting go and getting out of my own way. It’s about being open, honest and communicative. There were a lot of new things and new people to trust, which has always been the hardest thing for me, and I had to trust and listen to myself. I had to be forgiving, willing and loving. Most importantly, I had to not only accept all of what I was going through, but I had to love and embrace it,” explained Henry.
This coming weekend, Henry will preview music from Embraceable with performances June 24th & 25th at Feinstein’s in New York City where she will be backed by Aaron Goldberg (piano), Richie Goods (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums). On August 22nd, Henry will celebrate the album release with a show at Dizzy’s at LincolnCenter featuring many of the musicians who played on the disc including Lage, Grenadier and Harland.
Critics from New York Times, Billboard, JazzTimes, All About Jazz, Jazz Improv NY, L.A. Jazz Scene, Miami Herald, Miami New Times, Goldmine, and many others have hailed Henry’s recordings and concerts. Jazz radio welcomed Henry upon release of her debut album, The Nearness of You, in 2004, which earned her Best New Jazz Artist honors from HMV Japan. Her follow-up, Teach Me Tonight, spotlighting accompaniment by the Eddie Higgins Trio, went #1 in Japan where HMV Japan named it the Best Jazz Vocal Album of 2005. Henry’s 2008 disc, The Very Thought of You, reached #7 on Billboard’s jazz album chart and enabled the Miami Beach-based singer to perform throughout Japan, Europe, and Russia in addition to New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. Further information is available at www.nicolehenry.com.
The songs that comprise Henry’s Embraceable are:
“Just a Little Lovin’”
“Like Someone in Love”
“Anything for You”
“Since I Fell for You”
“Trouble in Mind”
“Waiting in Vain”
“A Day in the Life of a Fool”
“Even While You’re Gone”
“A Little Time Alone”
“Save Me From Myself”
Source: Great Scott Productions