About Butterfly Blue (2015):
“Soul Music: Secular and Sacred or Sacred and Sublime.
Halie Loren glides in flight on her new album Butterfly Blue from newly composed musical poetry to the songbook of American music on the wings of a deepening and darkening musical sense, an extraordinary accompanying group of musicians and a voice to wring out all the passion, pain and promise of living. We are captives of the cages of our lives but the spirit still soars.
The new: “Blue” by sterling guitarist Daniel Gallo, “blue like the deep sea . . . blue like a moonbeam.” Delicate without sentimentality, painful but not maudlin. Gallo’s guitar masterfully weaves under Loren’s voice. “Butterfly” by Loren herself, wherein I think Otis Redding held her hand. I thought he might harmonize on the chorus and perhaps he does somewhere else. “After the Fall” again by Gallo. Paper Moons hang, funny Valentines bring a tear. Songs of life remembered, a soundtrack of a life.
The classic: Charles Trenet’s “I Wish You Love”, sung mostly in French and the more romantic for that. Loren’s voice haunts, evokes all the lyrical romance of the tune. Matt Treder’s piano and David Larsen’s clarinet so perfect in creating the cafe sensibility in play. Mark Schneider’s bass simply perfect. “Stormy Weather” touches the very center of that blues piece, slowed down achingly beyond any version you’ve heard before. Billie Holiday would approve. Ellington could have arranged. And a bit later, back to back to back, my favorite moments on the album. A playful yet deeply felt “Our Love Is Here to Stay” with Irving Berlin’s wonderful, hopeful lyrics. Again Larsen, this time on baritone sax, would be worth the trip just on his own. And Halie’s phrasing, I think she knew Berlin in an earlier life. She has also somehow magically visited Cole Porter. “Under My Skin” is launched by a fine instrumental intro with Treder and Schneider leading the way before Loren’s breathy vocal comes in with just a touch of Peggy Lee. All that Porter longing, the pain/pleasure of being caught with no release and maybe none wanted. On the Loren penned “Danger in Loving You,” heard in a performance version on an earlier recording, she writes to the level of Gershwin and Porter. There’s no release here either. There is of course danger to the heart.
Halie Loren is generally termed a jazz singer and that’s true if you acknowledge that blues underlies jazz, which of course it does. Then there is soul, she has that too. Ask me to walk into a club and conjure up my singer of choice and it would be Halie Loren. To bend a lyric in “Blue” just a bit, I love her like Sunday.”
– The International Review of Music (Brian Arsenault), June 2015
“With a subdued manner and undercurrents of strong feeling, the Oregon singer ranges across a dozen songs of varying genres. Among them are standards by the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Charles Trenet and Harry Warren; a Horace Silver classic; and three impressive compositions of her own. She unifies the pieces with a rhythmic pulse, musicianly phrasing and the subtlety of a slight terminal vibrato on note endings. Her “Danger in Loving You” and a gospel treatment of Sarah Masen’s “Carry Us Through” have qualities that could send them onto soul charts. Accompanied by piano, bass and baritone saxophone, she scats half a chorus of “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” exhibiting an understanding of the chords, a trait not rampant among scat singers. With conviction, Ms. Loren delivers the message of Silver’s “Peace,” whose unidentified lyricist deserves credit.”
–Rifftides.com (Doug Ramsey), December 2015
“Gifted vocalist and composer Halie Loren’s latest recording (her eighth) is all about transformation and the resilient nature of the human heart. In keeping with these themes, Alaskan-born Loren has deftly selected a musical palette that incorporates not only beloved standards from The Great American Songbook, but well-written contemporary and original compositions as well as a beloved jazz anthem of hope. Loren acts as co-producer here, along with pianist/composer Matt Treder – and she is firmly and beautifully supported by her longtime rhythm section including Treder, bassist Mark Schneider and drummer Brian West. Tastefully arranged horns and strings also grace the project in all of the right places.
The original opening track, Yellow Bird, is a stunner and Loren’s sumptuous, multi-tracked vocals and jaunty horn arrangement makes this tune a total delight. Another gem is I Wish You Love (Que reste-t-il de nos amours?), which was a huge hit for Keely Smith in 1957. It is no easy task to perform a venerable song that has been previously interpreted and imbue it with your own special emotional language and musical statement… but Loren has done just that, in spades. With her smoky, resonant alto voice, gorgeous French and innovative instrumentation, she has firmly affixed this classic ballad with her own special stamp.
Other delights include a languid and smouldering take on Harold Arlen’s Stormy Weather, a bluesy reboot of the Dubin and Warren tin-pan alley classic Boulevard of Broken Dreams and the late jazz giant Horace Silver’s heartbreakingly beautiful Peace – the ultimate song of transcendence and healing, rendered simply, movingly and lovingly by Loren.”
– TheWholeNote.com (Lesley Mitchell-Clarke), September 2015
“Halie Loren’s Butterfly Blue strikes a perfect balance of classic and original jazz songs. The new blends with the old and the old is made new in Ms. Loren’s renditions of them. Much of the original work is Ms. Loren’s own, including “Yellow Bird”, “Butterfly”, and “Danger in Loving You” (joined by Larry Wayne Clark). Daniel Gallo, playing guitar on the album) contributed a couple as well in “Blue” and “After the Fall.”
The minute “Yellow Bird” spins up, you know you’re in for some lovely vocal jazz. Halie Loren’s vocalization is as much an instrument guiding the melody as any other. He light, precise yet flowing tone gives flight to the song about a caged bird whose only flight are those of imagination: “All we are is made of stardust and sky/ We hold the whole world – The whole world inside. / A yellow bird, she sings / and dreams of things I’ve never seen. / And the yellow bird, her wings/ have touched everything.”
Ms. Halie’s rendition of “I Wish You Love” (Que reste-t-il de nos amours?) is my favorite (my second being Stacey Kent’s). Her melding of an English translation with the French is brilliant (and much more successful than the American offspring). One envisions sitting at an outdoor café just outside the Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier) sipping a Caffè Americano reflecting on a life and love gone by: “Que reste-t-il de nos amours/ Que reste-t-il de ces beaux jours / Une photo, vieille photo / De ma jeunesse?” [translated] “What remains of our love? What remains of these beautiful days?/A photo, an old photo/Of my youth?” This song (or its American cousin) has been recorded by everybody and their mother including Dalida, Nat King Cole (and Natalie), Harry Connick Jr., Sam Cooke and even Marlene Dietrich. So to say this is my favorite is not a trivial, nor due to lack of covers. It all comes together in this version – her smooth and breathy voice, the band and the arrangement of the song.
Speaking of band, they are an integral part of this album and include: Piano & Organ: Matt Treder, Guitars: William Seiji Marsh & Daniel Gallo, Bass: Mark Schneider, Drums: Brian West, Horns: David Larsen (saxophones, clarinet), Joe Freuen (trombone), Dana Heitman (trumpet), Rob Birdwell (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Cello: Katherine Dudney. I don’t normally list out the band members in a vocal review, but this would be a very different album without the level of play these folks provide. It’s tight, focused and always supportive of the vocals.
Halie Loren picks it up a bit with “Blue,” a bouncy tune that still lends itself to be bluesy. Like many of her songs, it depicts the pain of life but points to hope. In this case, parted lovers feeling the pain of separation: “Blue like the deep sea / Colors your country / When we’re driving home / Blue like a moonbeam / Drowning you baby / When you feel alone /These are the things that you see / When you’re looking back at me through the pain But we don’t have to fall.”
“Stormy Weather” is a classic that you never tire of hearing. Ms. Loren brings a breathy quality and lilt to the song that refreshes it and brings out all of the embedded emotion. The solid instrumental backing, especially in the brushwork and brass, help make this version a classic.
Ms. Loren is a bit reminiscent of Norah Jones on “Butterfly.” The pacing, the breathy quality and the lead up to band kicking in all make for a memorable song. I love how she takes on the weary world head on: “Never felt so old, / so ready to fold it all down / so at home on the cold, hard ground. / I’m not chasing sun no more” yet still moves towards hope: “Oh, My Soul, I feel you / reaching for the wind, / longing to begin again… / Butterfly”
“After the Fall” could almost be a lullaby in its own right. After the dream-like vocal reminiscing, there’s a wonderful little moment where the piano and trumpet come together to make this intimate sonic space within the song that evokes intimate moments of solitude and “that mood indigo.” It’s almost as if she is singing to you by the hearth within the warm embrace of the fire’s glow.
Wow, talk about an old staple taken to another place, “Our Love is Here to Stay” uses instrumentation, including Cello and Sax, to give a fun lilt to the song. The brass almost bring a sound reminiscent of a Frank Capra movie (did I hear an homage to Chattanooga Cho-Cho?). The band is well highlighted in this track and does an outstanding job. She takes “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” to a new place as well but in a very different way. It has an almost Brazilian bossa nova beat to it.
Ever feel like you just walked into a 40’s jazz bar (or wish you could ala Captain Picard’s holodeck)? “Danger in Loving You” will transport you there with its throaty brass-laden jazz and Ms. Loren’s smooth voice. I love her pacing and punctuation intermingled with smooth transitions among stanzas. In a similar vein, the percussion in “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” sets the pace for a playful energy that belie the broken dreams of which she sings. The brass supply the energy for “Carry Us Through,” a song that could carry you through the longest hump-day.
The album ends in Peace… Opening with a haunting piano, this lovely song (often played as an instrumental piece featuring trumpet) musically leads us to that place of peace it describes.
This is another first-class album from Halie Loren. While she continues to wow us with her voice and musical sensibility, her depth grows as she presents more of her own material. This is a fabulous album I’ll listen again and again. I highly recommend it.”
– PPCORN (Joe Frazier), June 2015
About Halie Loren – some excerpts:
About Simply Love (2013):
“… (F)or sheer vocal beauty and old-school warmth, few among her contemporaries can match Halie Loren. There’s a subtle sultriness to Loren, more smoldering ingénue than femme fatale, that shapes the core of her appeal. She uses it to full advantage on tender, translucent readings of “For Sentimental Reasons,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Moon River,” “My Funny Valentine,” and a stunning “Dream a Little Dream of Me” performed in French. Gently raising the heat, Loren is arguably the first to fully express the intense sensuality of “I Feel the Earth Move”; she extends her predilection for pop material from the ’60s and ’70s with a near-equally voluptuous “Happy Together.”
Three of the 13 tracks are Loren originals, all laudable reconfirmation of her songwriting dexterity. “Cuando Bailamos” (sung in English) is a shimmering examination of intense amour, while the cleverly constructed title tune, featuring guitarist Daniel Gallo, reflects on the endless ways that poets and tunesmiths have defined love.
As always, Loren is provided tight, empathetic backing by pianist Matt Treder, bassist Mark Schneider, drummer Brian West and, on five tracks, guitarist William Seiji Marsh. Here, though, they’re intriguingly enhanced by Sergei Teleshev on button accordion and Craig Chee and Ali Losik Heyer on complementary ukuleles, with the occasional, understated addition of Treder-arranged strings.”
– Jazz Times, October 2013
“…Pushing aside pristine vocals and impeccable phrasing, Halie Loren connects with a tune. Perhaps the one key to success as a vocalist is knowing who you are and being so comfortable in your own skin that you can take songs such as “For Sentimental Reasons” and “My Funny Valentine” and breathe new life into timeless American classics and allow them to live forever. Again, Halie Loren has this gift.
Simply Love is the fourth release on the Canadian label Justin Time and by far her finest work to date. The female jazz vocalist sorority is a tightly clustered pack, in fact so tightly clustered it can on occasion cause talent such as Halie Loren to fall between the cracks. The intimacy that permeates Simply Love is more of an evocative experience more so than a traditional vocal jazz release. The addition of strings on this recording provide the perfect contrast in texture for her rich voice with just a hint of a smokey finish. Loren also succeeds in accomplishing what few of her contemporaries can seem to muster and that would be carefully selected standards, a few popular tunes and the addition of some well conceived originals. A well planned, phenomenally executed and deceptively subtle presentation of the joy of song.
The Loren original “Cuando Bailamos” is a delightfully captivating bossa nova and provides the perfect melodic counterpoint to the Carol King classic, “I Feel The Earth Move.” The haunting beautiful reharm of the Johnny Mercer / Henry Mancini standard “Moon River” meticulously blows the dust off an iconic classic that has been done to death but never this well.
Most female vocalist fail to fall into the memorable pile simply based on the volume of work I receive. When talent such as Halie Loren crosses your desk then you pay attention. Halie Loren is far more than a vocalist, she is an entertainer.”
– CriticalJazz.com, August 2013 (review by Brent Black)
“Jazz vocalist Halie Loren’s latest album, Simply Love, is an eclectic mix of standards, original compositions, and an older pop hit or two, all stylishly imprinted with her personal touch. Her re-imaginings breathe new life into the classics and, with a little luck, her commanding performances of the new material promise to turn them into modern classics.
Music from the Great American Songbook can pose a problem for a singer. Familiarity can father contempt. A song like “My Funny Valentine” on a performer’s set list is just as likely to elicit groans from the jaded as it is applause. It is the great singer who can take a song like that and make it fresh, make us feel like it is something we haven’t heard over and over and over, ad infinitum. Halie Loren does the job. She makes “My Funny Valentine” come alive once again. Listen to her and it is clear why this a classic. She makes it her own, and she does the same for tunes like “For Sentimental Reasons,” “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (which she sings in French), “L.O.V.E.,” and even the unlikely “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”
Of the original material on the album, the most captivating is the bossa nova “Cuando Bailamos” which she wrote with Larry W. Clark. The title song written with Benita Hill is an eloquent ballad delivered with a simplicity that echoes its title.
Perhaps the highlights of the album though are the vibrant readings of the Carole King hit “I Feel the Earth Move” and The Turtle’s 1967 chart topper, “Happy Together.”
The singer works with a tight ensemble featuring fellow producer and arranger Matt Treder on piano and Rhodes, Mark Schneider on bass, and Brian West on drums and percussion. Add to them an assortment of strings on three tunes, “I’ve Got to See You Again,” “Le Premier Bonheur du Jour,” and the aforementioned original, “Cuando Bailamos,” which creates a richly-colored sound palate. Guitars, ukuleles, and a button accordion round out the supporting cast.”
– BlogCritics.org (Jack Goodstein), November 2013
“Halie Loren’s ‘Simply Love’ CD warms the heart with captivating melodies and smooth rhythms. Simply Love is so real you can feel the emotional impact of each song and literally hold it in your heart.”
– San Diego County News (Danny R. Johnson), September 2013
About Heart First (2011):
“…(I)t all comes together to perfection. Depending on the song, Loren can be sweet, sly, or sultry, but she always finds the right read. .. All of the covers on Heart First have been done ad infinitum, but Loren’s ability to find something new in the old makes this a fun ride. She finds the middle ground between Bob Marley’s impassioned delivery and Annie Lennox’s pop sheen on “Waiting In Vain,” strips “Sway (Quién Será)” to its seductive core, and removes any hint of Eartha Kitt from “C’est Si Bon.” “All Of Me,” underscored by a slow burning bass and tom groove, receives a reading that’s far more provocative than the norm.
In Loren’s able hands, Neil Young’s twang is nowhere to be found on his “Lotta Love,” which sounds like a cross between a Michael Bublé pop hit and “Everyday Is A Holiday (With You)” from Esthero and Sean Lennon. While innovation is present in many of the arrangements, Loren doesn’t mess with some standards on some standards. “Taking A Chance On Love” and “My One And Only Love” both receive fairly routine deliveries, giving the young vocalist a chance to shine in a more straightforward manner… “In Time,” the most moving of Loren’s originals, crosses Hem-like serenity with a Sophie Milman-leaning sound, while the title track mixes country inflections with traces of barroom informality. “Tender To The Touch,” with its strong R&B influence, is the most pop-leaning of the bunch, and the album-opening “A Woman’s Way” proves to be the most breezy, in music if not in words.
…Heart First should help to elevate Halie Loren’s profile on the home front. She’s deserving of more attention, and this record is pure magic. ”
– All About Jazz, Dan Bilawsky (to view web source and full review, visit www.allaboutjazz.com)
“Coupled with her superb taste in covers, this commitment to the feeling expressed in each song is why Halie stands apart from her contemporaries, and Heart First is no different … Halie is the kind of singer who deserves to be heard on an LP, late at night, in a darkened room with a glass of Lagavulin. I’ll be the first to order these albums all over again when that day comes. ”
– The Vinyl Anachronist (to view web source and full review, visit thevinylanachronist.blogspot.com)
“Halie Loren has a damn fine of a voice (smoky and sultry), but the real deal, which is proven on her new release Heart First, is her simplified reinterpretation of standards. Her rendition of “My One and Only Love” is a perfect example. The bass-keyboard accompaniment gives her the space to build her emotion into the tune. The most interesting part about this cover is how she gradually departs away from the original melody. By the time she comes back after the brief piano solo to close out the tune, she has completely rewritten the melody with her own. Now that’s f—–g jazz.”
– Visualgui blog (to view web source and full review, visit www.visualgui.com)
“Hooray – one of the great little secrets in jazz is not so secret anymore and really she was number one a long time ago for me. Halie Loren’s latest release “Heart First” is NUMBER 1 on iTunes in Canada…I can’t tell you how excited I am about this… her album also entered the Top 10 on Amazon.com… I have been singing (to make a very bad but apropos pun) the praises of this very wonderful vocalist based in Oregon for some time.”
– Jazz Goddess blog by Moreen Murray, jazzgoddess.blogspot.com
“A singer needs to have the natural ability to make that special connection with the audience unless of course they don’t mind their ultimate career destination as singing in the hotel lounge of the local Marriott. Loren not only as that innate gift of connection but the prodigious vocal chops to pull off fresh originals and time tested standards in an intimate setting as comfortable as a favorite sweater.
The search for a genuine identity has tripped up many a vocalist as they opt for the more manufactured vibe appeal that they think the record company may be looking for. Halie Loren is simply herself. Heart First is an eclectic yet personal release that sidesteps some of the more self limiting categories induced by the recording industry in favor of a far more organic approach as a story teller.
Having made significant progress in conquering the Japanese jazz and pop radio stations, Loren is musical proof that talent will indeed win out. There are four Loren originals combined with jazz standards and even some re-invented pop tunes including Neil Young’s “Lotta Love.” The Loren original “A Woman’s Way” invites the listener on a charming somewhat coffee house induced journey of vocal minimalism. A stellar voice with great tone and marvelous command of phrasing sets Loren apart from myriad of female vocalists that all seem to think they can sing but reality tells a different story. “All of Me” is re-invented with a beatnik cool vibe that makes a well worn standard fresh and new. Old school becoming new cool in the hands of a gifted artist is a beautiful thing. The ensemble sound of the band reinforces the organic without ever dancing close to the self indulgent or pretentious edge of the sonic cliff. “Lotta Love” is a tune that could be a musical landmine for those that don’t think it through. A subtle syncopated reinvention bordering on reggae lite makes what some consider a Neil Young “throw away” a delightfully fresh tune with infectious jazz sensibilities.
A conceptualized personal release revolving around love and the human condition find Halie Loren scoring big on a release with tremendous cross over potential. Having long moved past the position of jazz critic to jazz advocate, you would have to look long and hard to find fault with Halie Loren and Heart First!
– Critical Jazz, March 2012 (to view web source & full review, visit www.criticaljazz.com)
About Stages (2010):
A story is always better when sung through the lips of someone like Halie Loren. Her live re-release album Stages creates a captivating story, each song leaving the listener’s ears insatiate, yearning to hear, “what happens next?” In this live recording, Loren’s sultry delivery of perfectly articulated melodies, naturally warm in tone, touches her listeners note by note, creating a symphonic experience to be remembered. Stages captures the intimate essence of two of Loren’s most revered live performances — constantly calling listeners all over the world back for more.
Originally released in 2010, Stages is Loren’s first-ever live album. By popular demand, the album is being re-issued, with two never-before-released live bonus tracks, by Justin Time Records on July 10, 2012.
Recorded in 2009 at two different Oregon performances, Stagesseamlessly fuses standards like “Summertime” and a sassy “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” with pop tunes like U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Interlacing these tunes are Loren’s own original compositions, folky-pop tune “Free To Be Loved By Me” and, “They Oughta Write a Song,” title track of her 2008 release. In addition, this newly enhanced release features two bonus tracks, “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and “Nearness of You.”
Stages features the complementary musical craftsmanship of Loren’s longtime collaborators: pianist Matt Treder, bassist Mark Schneider, drummer and percussionist Brian West, and trumpeter Tim McLaughlin.
Our live shows are quite eclectic, and feature songs from even further outside the generally jazzier genre that is represented on our studio albums… we take chances, and some of these songs were examples of that,” recalls Loren. “The rendition of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was the product of my coming to Matt Treder (piano) and saying, ‘what if we try it as a ballad?’. We rehearsed it through one time, and then performed it on stage. Now it’s on an album for the whole world to hear. The same is true for several of the original songs on Stages — It was our first time performing them as a band outside of our rehearsal space. Sometimes things go right the first time around, and have their own kind of magic, and it’s great to capture that when it happens.”
Ultimately it is Loren’s warm and playful delivery of these melodies that grants her the freedom to seemingly effortlessly join these eclectic genres together into one complete album. Stages thus, is the result of Loren’s gifted ability to capture the intimate ambiance of a live performance into a timeless recording.
“Capturing the energy and spontaneity of a live performance is always one of my goals when recording in the studio,” says Loren. “The innate quality of the ‘live’ sound and sparkle is my favorite part of creating a live CD… it’s like inviting listeners from all over the world to attend a concert playing exclusively for them through their stereos or iPods. It makes the concert experience accessible to all. I’m thrilled to be able to share the newest version of Stages with fans around the globe.”
Loren’s sound has been compared to those of Diana Krall and Norah Jones. These comparisons are a reflection of Loren’s cross-genre success. Her musical career started when Loren was just a teenager, winning first place at national songwriting contests in jazz, inspirational, and country music. Her mastery of diverse genres blends musical boundaries into a seamless sound that only Loren can deliver.
Although still in her twenties, Loren’s voice has been inviting listeners into her intimate sound worldwide long before her release of Stages. Since 2005, she has released five albums. Loren’s debut jazz album,They Oughta Write a Song (2008), awarded her “Best Vocal Jazz Album” at the 2009 JPF Music Awards. With distribution in Asia through JVC/Victor Entertainment, it became Japan’s No. 2-selling jazz album of the year.
“Thirsty,” Loren’s original song from her album After Dark (2010), won the listener-determined Vox Pop award for best jazz song at the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards. After Dark awarded Loren “Artist of the Year,” by online reviewer Wildy’s World.
Heart First (2012), Loren’s most recent release, showcases her craftsmanship for eclectic balance of jazz standards, re-imagined pop classics, as well as Loren’s own original compositions. Heart First won Jazz Critique Magazine’s “Golden (top) prize” for Best Vocal Album in its annual Jazz Audio Disc Awards 2011.
Collaborating with Grammy® Award-winning and chart-topping musicians and songwriters since she was a teenager, Stages is the manifestation of Loren’s musical maturation. Her diverse musical background thus allows Loren to take creative liberties musically and vocally, depending on how she chooses to tell each story. As one reviewer comments, “her respect for the past is undeniable, while her finger on the pulse of modern music gives her songs a wide appeal that reaches far beyond jazz clubs.” And that’s just it, Loren doesn’t appeal to merely one specific genre of like-minded listeners, she accomplishes something deeper, touching directly the hearts and souls of sentient beings throughout the world.
Loren’s genre-crossing albums have reached No. 1 on Amazon Japan’s jazz chart and are consistent top-ten contenders on jazz and pop radio. Success has brought Loren’s music to ever-widening audiences, including sellout concerts at the Blue Note and the Cotton Club in Tokyo, headlining the Ginza Festival in 2010, and several consecutive tours in the US, Europe, and Asia.
A well-revered singer, songwriter, and musician, and also storyteller, Loren has finely crafted a live album that grants listeners all over the world intimate access to Loren’s stage. Stages unites Loren and her listeners through one very sentient heartstring.
– The Jazz Chill Corner (jazzchill.blogspot.com), 2012
Interview on “The Time Machine” radio show (Hawaii), 2014: