Ever since Halie Loren burst onto the music scene in 2006 with Full Circle, she’s charmed audiences from here to Japan and back with her deeply personalized, spontaneously stylized songs. The award-winning vocalist and songwriter returns to her birthplace of Seattle for Simply Love, her latest creation — a mix of her original compositions and her favorite renditions of standards from the Great American Songbook.
She’s in town for two major events: the KPLU Jazz Cruise this Sunday (sold out!) and her upcoming Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley shows, August 26-27, 7:30 p.m. She brings her more than capable band along for the ride: pianist Matt Treder, bassist Mark Schneider, and drummer Brian West.
The award-winning, Oregon-based Loren lives every magical moment onstage as if it were her last, reaching out to audiences as they journey together through each song’s story. She’s able to transform covers as if they came directly from her own personal songbook. And her personal songbook takes its place naturally alongside some spectacularly timeless classics.
It’s her voice. At once warm and inviting, fun and teasing, able to embody the essence of gypsy jazz to Brazilian samba, but always open to every spontaneous experience discovered in the moment onstage. That’s what fuels her on these adventures touring the country and the world.
“I love sharing music and the stories that songs tell with people who are sharing the same room with me, who are really in the experience with me. It feeds my soul in ways nothing else can,” Loren shared on August 5. “My favorite part of the live performance experience is feeling the connection happen between the audience and the song, which quite actively influences the way I communicate each song. Live music is not a one-sided creation experience at all... instead, my feeling is that it is a culmination of many elements, the primary ones being the relationship between musician, listener, and the spirit of the song itself. Music is never more alive than when shared in a live setting — in my opinion this especially applies to jazz, as improvisation is such a bedrock element of the genre, and improv is so well suited to the ever-changing environment of the stage.”
What are you most looking forward to playing in the KPLU Jazz Cruise (since you and your band's played the cruise last year), and then playing Jazz Alley?
I always feel like I’m returning to one of my hometowns when I’m in Seattle... well, I was born there, so in a way it is a hometown for me! I know I can speak for the whole band in saying that it is one of our favorite cities to visit on tour, and has some of the best audiences we’ve ever played for, so three concerts in one month in Seattle is truly a treat for us. Especially because we will be playing in some of the best and most diverse settings the West Coast has to offer, which is a gorgeously scenic bay cruise (with and for our favorite radio station, no less!) and a world-class jazz club. It couldn’t be a better combination, really.
What is on the set list, is this for a new album, what can audiences expect?
We like to mix original music and unique takes on cover tunes with an array of my favorite standards from the American Songbook and jazz songs from all around the world. Our shows will definitely include plenty of songs from our most recent album Simply Love, released last fall, as well as some new and exciting arrangements that we’ve created and will be featuring on our next album (scheduled for release in 2015).
How do you deal with opening night jitters and when do you know you’ve entered the zone?
Getting ridiculously silly with my band mates usually does wonders for shaking off any nerves... that and drinking copious amounts of tea. As for entering the zone, as soon as I am more aware of the music and less aware of myself, it’s there waiting for me... the difference between being in the “non-zone” and the zone feels akin to the difference between trying to cross the river and just letting myself float with the current, trusting it will get me somewhere.
Jazz Alley is located in downtown Seattle on 2033 6th Ave. Cover is $22.50. Free parking. Doors open 5:30 p.m.