In the current short term, fast buck, major label A&R climate Brownswood stand out like a beacon for the way that they back and develop their artists. Perhaps the different ethos comes from the top, Gilles Peterson is the label boss after all, but in any event less sensitive hands might not have allowed a talent as great as Zara McFarlane to develop after her promising, solid, yet not especially high selling debut Until Tomorrow from 2011. Peterson's previous label 'Talkin' Loud' were responsible, lest we forget, for some of the finest jazz influenced soul records of the ...read more
On her full-length follow up to 2010's EP Until Tomorrow, London-based singer Zara McFarlane perfects her blend of austere instrumentation and mantra-like rhythms supporting her rich and warm voice that owe more to Mongo Santamaria than reputedly Nina Simone or Roberta Flack. An album centerpiece, Woman in the Olive Groves" undulates like Afro Blue" while being able to act as its logical prelude. Backed by a traditional rhythm trio, McFarlane fulfills the potential of her subtle and muscular voice which sets perfectly against Brinker Golding's obtuse and probing tenor saxophone solo. Pianist Peter Edwards sinks McCoy Tyner chords into the ...read more
Zara McFarlaneNorfolk and Norwich FestivalNorwich PlayhouseNorwich, UKMay 24, 2012The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is gaining a reputation as one of the finest arts festivals in the UK, one that's always willing to experiment, make use of street venues and the beautiful Norfolk countryside, and give rising stars as well as established artists a showcase. The 2012 Festival was no exception, although its jazz content seemed a little less than in recent years. There was the Robert Glasper Experiment on the opening weekend, an inspired performance at times featuring the amazing Mark Colenburg on ...read more
Until Tomorrow, from young London-based singer and writer Zara McFarlane, is a delight. This is not McFarlane's first recording--her 2010 self-produced six-track EP, also called Until Tomorrow, debuted some of these songs, and she has also recorded with the Jazz Jamaica All Stars--but it's her first full-length album. Filled with fresh and beautifully crafted compositions, it signals McFarlane's maturing talents as a singer and songwriter with a distinctive take on the art of the song. McFarlane is no bluesy shouter, but she is most definitely a soulful singer. Her voice moves effortlessly from the plaintive yearning of ...read more
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