Sarah Jerrom’s critically acclaimed debut album, Illuminations, encompasses fresh original compositions, jazz-inspired arrangements of contemporary songs and traditional jazz standards. Described as “diverse and sophisticated” (Justin Litun, IAJE Canada Newsletter), “powerful, stirring and lush” (Peter Merrett, PBS 106-7FM, Melbourne) and “swingin’ stuff” (Colin Smith, CKLN 88.1FM, Toronto) amongst reviewers and critics, the self-produced recording has generated considerable attention for its originality and musicianship. Sarah arranged much of the material and also surrounded herself with a large ensemble of top-flight musicians, including Stu Harrison and Jamie Reynolds on piano, Harley Card on electric and acoustic guitar, Mark McIntyre on bass, David MacDougall on drums, Mike Murley on tenor saxophone, Alison Young on alto saxophone, Rebecca Hennessy on trumpet and fluegelhorn, and Joel Green on trombone. Illuminations also features a string quartet on Sarah’s arrangement of the Josefine Cronholm composition, “Wild Garden”. Illuminations has received widespread media attention and radio airplay at local (CFRB, CIUT, CKLN), national (CBC), and international radio stations in the United Kingdom (BBC), the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Denmark, France and Argentina.
Highlights of Illuminations include a contemporary, lilting and slightly mysterious version of the Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer classic “Skylark”, replete with masterful and harmonically complex solos by Mike Murley and Jamie Reynolds; a funky take on Brad Mehldau’s “Dusty Nugget”; Sarah’s contemporary original title track, “Illumination”; Strayhorn’s immortal “Lush Life”, done here as an evocative and moving piano/voice duo featuring Stu Harrison; a snappy and swinging take on Rodgers & Hart’s “Do It the Hard Way”; a pristine, classic and uncluttered version of Benny Goodman’s “Stompin’ at the Savoy”, featuring synchronistic rhythm section solos; the modern and haunting “Wild Garden” (Josefine Cronholm) with a lush, contrapuntal string arrangement by Sarah; a Neil Young-inspired perspective on Don Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me”, and the final track on the CD, the radiant Lerner & Loewe classic “Heather on the Hill”.
IAJE Canada Newsletter ”CD Reviews” – Volume 12 Number 2, Fall 2007
– Sarah Jerrom: Illuminations
”Diverse and sophisticated are two words that repeatedly come to mind when listening to Toronto-based vocalist Sarah Jerrom’s debut album, Illuminations. Diversity is perhaps most apparent in song selection; tried and tune tunes such as “Skylark” and “Lush Life” find a place among offerings written by country stalwart Don Gibson and by more contemporary artists such as Brad Mehldau (to whose music Jerrom provides lyrics), Swedish jazz vocalist Josefine Cronholm, and Jerrom herself. Each tune seems equally at home here, and this owes largely to the infusion of Jerrom’s sophisticated touch as an arranger. Harmonically compelling, with creative and engaging accents, Jerrom sets a personal touch on these tunes. This skill is particularly evident in her treatment of Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me”, where, with a mix of horns and acoustic guitar, she makes it her own- with a tip of the hat to Neil Young’s treatment of the same tune. Diversity also comes to mind when speaking of the album’s orchestration. From the duo format of “Lush Life” to the 9-piece ensemble- complete with strings- that performs Cronholm’s “Wild Garden”, Jerrom is not afraid to explore a variety of timbres and moods. The album benefits greatly from this willingness to explore, as Jerrom orchestrates the album in a manner that coaxes the most from each tune. Sophistication is again evident on the part of the musicians appearing on this album. Jerrom’s rhythm section performs deftly throughout much of the album, and is in particularly fine form on “Stompin’ at the Savoy”. They underpin each song with a concise and refined style that is perfectly suited to this music. Saxophonist Mike Murley is stellar throughout the album, and the band as a whole, in its various permutations, shines. This is a strong album that will leave you eager to hear more.” - Justin Litun, IAJE Canada Newsletter
“We really love Sarah’s stunning sophisticated jazz… the style is powerful, stirring yet gentle and very subtle. The choice of material is marvelous and gels together into a lush sound that has you wanting more, and our audiences most certainly will love her sound. It certainly struck us as an extraordinary CD- one that will be very well received by our astute audience. Sarah’s feel and experience is evident and shows in a very confident way. I would say the word that kept coming to mind was `sophisticated’.” – Peter Merrett, Programming Director, PBS 106-7FM Melbourne, Australia
“After listening to (Sarah’s) album, I get the impression that there is something in this for everyone… there’s something laid back, there’s some beautiful lyrics, understated but meaningful, and really, really impeccable phrasing…. And there’s some swinging stuff.” – Colin Smith – “One Flight Up”, 88.1FM CKLN, Toronto, Canada
“Great album. Fantastic stuff for our radio station.” – Alex Pijnen – BRTO Radio, Netherlands
released March 1, 2007
Sarah Jerrom- vocals & arrangements
Stu Harrison- piano (tracks 2, 4, 7, 9)
Jamie Reynold- piano (tracks 1, 3, 5, 8, 10)
Harley Card- guitar
Mark McIntyre- bass
David MacDougall- drums
Mike Murley- tenor saxophone
Alison Young- alto saxophone
Rebecca Hennessy- trumpet/fluegelhorn
Joel Green- trombone
Liana Berube- 1st violin "Wild Garden"
Phoebe Tsang- 2nd violin "Wild Garden"
Anthony Rapoport- viola "Wild Garden"
Rafael Hoekman- cello "Wild Garden"
Produced by Sarah Jerrom
Recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Canada on Aug. 10/11, 2006.
Engineered and edited by Myke Mazzei; co-engineered by Dylan Argument; 2nd engineer/Protools operator Matt Froese; assistant engineer Brent Whitcomb
Mixed by Mike Jones at Chalet Studios in Uxbridge, Canada; assisted by Sean Gugula
Mastered by Ted Carson at Musiclane Inc.
Photography by Mariangela Mazzei
Artwork design by Heidi Schlitt at Indiepool