Jazz vocalist and songwriter Dara Tucker's third studio project, ‘The Sun Season’ is a celebration of life, energy and the human experience.
Tucker's new project differs from her previous releases, ‘Soul Said Yes’ (2011) and ‘All Right Now’ (2009), in that ten of the twelve tracks that comprise ‘The Sun Season' (2014) are original tunes with memorable melodies, rich harmonies and strong rhythms. These sensibilities are immediately felt on such tunes as "Sometimes Love," "Beautiful Sun," "The Sun Suite" and "See It Always." Her gift of balladry, as evidenced on "Naïve", and "The Nearness of You," one of the albums two covers, reveal a mature singer with the wisdom to communicate the tender essence of love with a flair that is distinct and enveloping.
“When I fall in love with a song, I fall in love with the melody first; then the lyrics," Tucker said. "If I can communicate the essence of that melody to the listener without relying on attention-grabbing melisma, and instead, focus on creating subtle yet effective embellishments that will draw the listener in, then I feel I’ve done my job.”
Recorded over two days at David Stoller's Samurai Hotel Studios in Queens, New York, the project features pianist Helen Sung, drummer Donald Edwards, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist/producer Greg Bryant and horn men John Ellis and Alan Ferber. The resultant material is a joyful presentation with memorable contributions from the entire cast.
"The singer-songwriters of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were hugely influential on me, as were gospel and the Great American Songbook. What I end up producing as a writer is essentially an amalgam of all these genres. Couple those influences with one of the baddest New York jazz ensembles around, and you have the ingredients that came together to make up “The Sun Season”.
During her brief career, Dara Tucker has already managed to catch the ear of some of the most significant figures in jazz such as vocalist Cassandra Wilson, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and saxophonist Benny Golson. Within the last two years, Tucker has won audiences on such stages as The Blue Note (NYC), Smoke Jazz Club (NYC), Snug Harbor (New Orleans, LA), The San Jose Jazz Festival, Sculler’s in Boston, MA, Nighttown in Cleveland, OH and the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
Peeling away the layers of her diverse background sheds ample light on her unorthodox path to becoming a significant contemporary voice on the vocal jazz scene.
“I grew up singing gospel in church with my brothers and sisters. There were 7 of us, so my father (an accomplished music minister) and my mother (also a singer) had a built in choir. We traveled a lot, and we would back our parents up everywhere we went. I learned tons about harmony before I was even in the first grade. That provided me with amazing ear-training very early on. My father, a minister, didn’t allow secular music in the house. But eventually, when I began to come of age, I started to explore the sounds of big band music and the Great American Songbook. I spent many nights with my radio tucked under my pillow, surreptitiously soaking in artists like The Manhattan Transfer, The Hi-Lo’s, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn."
Tucker says writing the songs that make up “The Sun Season” was an organic process – mostly. After writing furiously for more than 7 years, she knew it was time to make her own statement.
"The question in my manager’s mind was always, 'Where will your songs fit? You’re one of those in-between writers.' This was something I understood all too well.
"I'm excited to share this project with everyone, and I look forward to performing the material in concert. It's my statement on what jazz is to me in the here and now. I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to shine a light on the particular Space that I choose to occupy in my singular Sun Season.
"Letters" is a song I wrote to my father shortly before his death. It deals with his estrangement and eventual illness.
"Like This" is a song I wrote that deals with the conflict of learning to love someone who has departed differently than you loved them where they were physically with you. I wrote this song as a reflection on both my parents' passing.
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I wrote "Wake Up" when I was in Vancouver, Canada with my sisters last year. We were walking our father through the end stages of brain cancer. He had been away from home for a few years, and we were petitioning the government as well as the hospital for the right to take him home to see his children and grandchildren one more time before he passed.