Since their formation in 2007, Blue Cranes have become a key player in the Portland, Oregon creative music/DIY scene and one of the most exciting groups to keep tabs on in the Northwest. They've developed a singular musical voice grounded in melody and explosive improvisations--marking off their unique microcosmic territory in post-jazz circles.
The members of the quintet--Reed Wallsmith on alto saxophone, Joe Cunningham on tenor saxophone, Rebecca Sanborn on keyboards, Jon Shaw on bass, and Ji Tanzer on drums--bring a unique array of experiences to their group-centered aesthetic, including work with AU, The Decemberists, Laura Veirs, Wayne Horvitz, Rebecca Gates, Laura Gibson, Ethan Rose, Pete Krebs, Black Prairie, and Portland Cello Project.
In June 2013, the band took an evolutionary step forward with the release of Swim, their fourth full-length album, on the Washington, D.C.-based Cuneiform Records. Swim is a departure from Blue Cranes' previous, and in some ways simpler, albums. Steered dutifully by producer Nate Query of The Decemberists, it is a window into the sometimes messy emotional space of a group struggling with and celebrating the ephemeralness of life. This work is the culmination of several between-album projects, including a 30-day crowd-sourced Amtrak train tour in 2011, and a seven day group composition retreat, supported in part by a grant from Portland's Regional Arts and Culture Council. However, the heart of Swim lies in indelibly profound life events--the passing away of two dear friends, a serious injury, two weddings, and the birth of a child--events at tragic and uplifting extremes, both cathartic and celebratory.
"Highly original power quintet."
- WALL STREET JOURNAL
"A truly unconventional approach to improvised music."
"Rich melodies and dynamic interplay."
- LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Hooky melodies and strong backbeats."
- CHICAGO READER
"Jarringly dissonant... poignant, soulful and reassuring."
- JAZZ TIMES
"One of Portland's brightest lights... evoking post-rock icons Sigur Ros and Godspeed You! Black Emperor."
"A force of nature."
- UTNE READER
"Rocks harder than most rock albums and says more than most singer-songwriters--without any words at all."
- WILLAMETTE WEEK
NYC-based instrumentalist Jessica Lurie defies all boundaries bringing her individual sound to diverse types of music while preserving their stylistic authenticity. Jessica’s main instruments are saxophones, flute, clarinet, as well as voice and accordion, and she is an avid composer as well.
Lurie moved from her home town of Seattle to Brooklyn 9 years ago and has been thrilling audiences on both coasts and in Europe. April 24, 2012 will be the official release of her newest CD for her NYC – based quintet. With MEGAPHONE HEART, her newest recording, composer and multi-instrumentalist JESSICA LURIE and her Ensemble are poised between creative jazz, rock, folk and avant-garde music, generating a luscious and compelling sea of sound. An adventurous musical spirit shines through ten original compositions, with Lurie’s unmistakable big sound on tenor and alto saxes, flute, and her distinctive voice. Inspired by life in Brooklyn, traveling the world, and her love of American and international melodies and rhythms, this is her strongest collection of songs yet.
With skill and discipline borne from her-life long dedication to music composition and improvisation, Lurie creates a pulsing, brimming, expansive sound. Joined by an ensemble of stellar musicians, she barrels across uncharted territories where jazz, folk, chaos and beauty all come out to playJessica has performed, toured or recorded with international artists including Bill Frisell, The Indigo Girls, Ivan Neville, The New Mastersounds, Danijel Zezelj, David Krakauer, Fred Wesley, Amy Denio, Zemog, Pharoah’s Daughter, Skerik, Mike Clark, Allison Miller, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Carl Densen, Garaj Mahal, The Pat Grainey Dance Company, Eyvind Kang, Wayne Horvitz, Booker Washington Jr., Leo Neocentelli, Paul McCandless, Calvin Weston, Sleater Kinney, The Shakin’ Ray Levis Society, Frank London, Kenny Wolleson, Todd Sickafoose, Jenny Scheinman, James Blood Ulmer Trio, Nels Cline, NYC’ s Circus Amok and Great Small Works theatre company among others. In addition to freelancing and working with her own Ensemble, Jessica performs and composes for the Tiptons Saxophone Quartet, Living Daylights trio, Ayn Sof Bigger Band, The Romeo Studs and La Buya.
In 2000, Lurie started her own label, Zipa! Music, and has released 8 recordings as well as being a part of over 35 recordings. In 2006 Jessica was awarded a Sundance Music Institute Fellowship for film composition, and her work as a composer has been supported by national and international granting organizations, and she is featured in the new jazz documentary Icons Among Us (2009). Jessica is currently teaching composition and technique in NYC with Orchestra St. Luke’s and The Manhattan New Music Project. She recently co-created several grant supported multi-media workshops for middle school students in Seattle and Brooklyn, combining dance, visual arts and poetry with music composition.
The Jessica Lurie Ensemble has performed at festivals worldwide including: NYC Winter Jazz Fest Kickoff 2012, Jamcruise ’12, Vienna Klezmore Festival 2010-11, SXSW, Pisa Instabile, Motovun Film Fest., Babel Arts, Earwing No Jazz, JVC Jazz Festival, CMJ, High Sierra Music Festival, Canadian Music Festival, Bumbershoot International Music Festival, Earshot Jazz, Jazzmiele , etc. Her music has been reviewed and acclaimed in All About Jazz (NY and Italy), Jazziz, Jazz Times, Downbeat, Chicago Jazz Magazine, The New Yorker, Jambase and the International Review of Music.