- Chris Loudon, JazzTimes
"Though vocalist Halie Loren has made a name for herself by bringing her warm and inviting alto to bear on a mixture of pop and jazz classics, she has received far too little recognition in the United States."
- Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
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, Stages seamlessly 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.