Over the last ten years, the New West Guitar Group (NWGG) has emerged as one of the premier guitar ensembles in the world. Their signature sound comes from an innovative style that highlights rhythm, beauty and virtuosity through combining acoustic and electric guitars.
With five studio albums to their credit, this new release Send One Your Love features an incredible cast of guest jazz vocalists. Teaming up with Gretchen Parlato, Tierney Sutton, Sara Gazarek, Becca Stevens and Peter Eldridge, the album tells a story about the highs and lows of love. Each vocalist is featured on a traditional and contemporary standard with lyrics that portray themes of vulnerability, hope, pain and happiness. Seattle Times hails NWGG as "sharp and refined" while All Music Guide says the trio's expert arrangements "sometimes verge on the orchestral." The band lives up to their reputation on Send One Your Love showcasing their thoughtful arrangements specifically done for the sound and style of each vocalist. The project brings together timeless compositions from Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell, Kurt Weill, Randy Newman and others through the sophisticated New West style of arranging. The result is a beautifully crafted and cohesive album that expands the notion of what is a "standard" to tell a story about of love.
For New West Guitar Group, this album was a unique chance for the members to collaborate with different vocalists in a reimagined setting rather than a sideman situation. Founding members Perry Smith and John Storie have had years of experience working as sidemen for jazz vocalists. Smith toured extensively with Canada's Sophie Milman and also worked for many years with LA vocalist Kathleen Grace. Storie has performed and recorded for many years with contemporary jazz vocalist Spencer Day and performs regularly with Hollywood's Jeff Goldblum. Drawing from their years of experience, they set forth to combine their signature style in New West Guitar Group with five of today's leading jazz vocalists. "This project was a great opportunity for us to focus around a concept driven by the lyrics" says Smith, "something we rarely get to do in an instrumental guitar group."
Gretchen Parlato opens the first track "Send One Your Love" and is certainly no stranger to New West Guitar Group. Smith and Storie founded NWGG at USC in 2005 and knew Parlato when she was a student there in Thelonious Monk Institute. In 2009, Parlato collaborated with NWGG on their all-acoustic album called Sleeping Lady produced by Traugott Guitars. In addition to the groovin' title track by Stevie Wonder, Parlato is also featured on the dreamy ballad "Like Someone in Love." Her subtle and innovative way of singing is a perfect fit with the sophisticated and genre-blending style of NWGG.
The second track "Detour Ahead" showcases the amazing Becca Stevens (who also sings later in the album on an Elliott Smith composition "Waltz No. 1"). Stevens first heard about New West Guitar Group back in 2008 when she booked NWGG at the forward sounding New York club, Bella Sugardo. On this album she sings songs about the unpredictable nature of life and love. Stevens captures this emotion with her evocative voice and truly unique style combining jazz with folk inspired phrasing.
Following Stevens is the incomparable Peter Eldridge who was new to working with NWGG. However, Smith and Eldridge had many mutual friends and NWGG thought his delicate and sophisticated style would fit perfectly on this album. "His contributions are an incredible lift to this album," says John Storie, who arranged "Black Crow" for Eldridge. Later in the album he puts forth a beautiful rendition of the timeless Kurt Weill composition "My Ship."
The rising west coast star Sara Gazarek follows Eldridge with a hauntingly gorgeous performance on the classic standard "I Fall in Love Too Easily." Gazarek attended USC with Perry and John and the three of them have worked together in various formats over the last 10 years. "I remember Sara singing 'I Fall in Love' when we were all freshman," says Smith. "No one does it better, it's so natural for her." Gazarek also sings the final track on the album, a moving rendition of James Taylor's "Secret o' Life."
Featured on the fifth and ninth track is the renowned Tierney Sutton. Sutton was introduced to NWGG at USC when she used to be on the vocal faculty. Smith used to work with her students and Sutton was always very complimentary of his arrangements. Together with Storie, they both performed with Sutton at various school events and 10 years later she was more than happy to record with them. Featured on "You Be So Nice to Come Home To" NWGG takes advantage of Sutton's expansive vocal technique. "She's so good at up-tempos" says Storie, "her time and phrasing is impeccable." In the second half of the album Sutton is featured on the poignant Randy Newman ballad "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2.
As the next chapter in their already 10 year recording career, Send One Your Love gives New West Guitar Group a concept album for the ages. This collaborative effort tells a story about the highs and lows of love through the timeless tradition of guitar and voice.
Upcoming New West Guitar Group Performances:
August 13 / Music on the Beach / South Lake Tahoe, CA
August 14 / Carson City Jazz and Beyond / Carson City, NV
August 15 / Occidental Center for the Arts / Occidental, CA
August 16 / Old Saint Hilary's / Tiburon, CA
August 19 / Aquarium of the Pacific / Long Beach, CA
August 20 / Martinis Above 4th / San Diego, CA
August 22 / Lotusland / Santa Barbara, CA
October 25 / Morris Museum / Morristown, NJ
November 6 & 7 / Cuesta Vocal Jazz Festival / San Luis Obispo, CA
November 11 / Jimmy Mak's / Portland, OR
November 21 / Lakeshore Jazz Series / Tempe, AZ
New West Guitar Group · Send One Your Love
Summit Records · Release Dates: June 8 (iTunes), August 7 (physical), 2015