"Songs for Petra"
Petra Haden, Julian Lage, Jorge Roeder, Kenny Wollesen, and Jesse Harris
Play the music of John Zorn and Jesse Harris
6pm doors • 7pm show
Songs for Petra presents the music of renowned composer John Zorn and the lyrics of Grammy Award–winning songwriter Jesse Harris performed by Petra Haden (vocals), Julian Lage (guitar), Jorge Roeder (upright bass), Kenny Wollesen (drums), and Jesse Harris himself (guitar, vocals). Petra, who sings with Bill Frisell and The Haden Triplets, first collaborated with Jesse on the album Seemed Like A Good Idea: Petra Haden Sings Jesse Harris (Sunnyside Records); Julian Lage (2018 Grammy Award nominee) is fast becoming perhaps the best known young jazz guitarist, whose latest album, Modern Lore (Mack Avenue Records) debuted at #1 on the Jazz Billboard chart. With powerful songs sung by the potent singer they were written for, this is not an evening to be missed!
Originally from New York City, Jesse Harris is a Grammy Award–winning songwriter, singer, guitarist, and producer of artists from all over the world. He began making records in the mid 90s with Once Blue (EMI Records), his first group and first experience writing for another singer. Since then, he has worked with dozens of artists and released 14 albums under his own name. His latest album, Aquarelle, recorded in Lisbon, was released in 2018.
In 2003, Harris received the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year for Norah Jones’s breakout hit “Don’t Know Why” from her debut album Come Away With Me, which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. It includes four of his other compositions: “Shoot The Moon”, “One Flight Down”, “I’ve Got To See You Again”, and “The Long Day Is Over”. He plays guitar throughout the recording.
Since then, Jones and Harris have collaborated numerous times. She has been a guest on many of his albums, and he appears as guitarist on almost all of hers. He also contributed songwriting to her 2008 release The Fall and produced her version of his song “World Of Trouble” for the Ethan Hawke film The Hottest State. That soundtrack features not only Harris’s score, but new versions of his songs by Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Cat Power, Feist, The Black Keys, M Ward, Brad Mehldau, Bright Eyes (on whose album I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning Harris also appears as guitarist), and others. Harris and Jones appear together in the Amy Poehler/Paul Rudd comedy They Came Together, performing his song, which he also produced, “It Was The Last Thing On Your Mind”.
Other artists who have recorded Harris’s songs include Smokey Robinson, George Benson, Pat Metheny, Kandace Springs, and Solomon Burke, on whose album Like A Fire Harris plays guitar and sings backing vocals.
Songwriting collaborations have included Madeleine Peyroux, Melody Gardot, Lana Del Rey, Maria Gadu, and Vinicius Cantuaria.
In 2013, Harris joined John Zorn’s Song Project, along with Mike Patton, Sofia Rei, and Sean Lennon, writing lyrics for various Zorn compositions and singing them at festivals worldwide with a band featuring Marc Ribot on guitar, John Medeski on keyboards, and Zorn conducting. Two of the group’s albums have been released by Tzadik Records. Recently, Zorn and Harris started a new project, Songs For Petra, which features Petra Haden and the Julian Lage Trio (for whom Harris has produced two albums, Arclight and Modern Lore).
Other production credits include albums for Forro In The Dark, Sasha Dobson, and Petra Haden, who recorded an entire album of his songs, entitled Seemed Like A Good Idea: Petra Haden Sings Jesse Harris (Sunnyside Records).
In a restlessly eclectic, wholly unique musical career that spans two and a half decades, Petra Haden has established a singular reputation for creativity and versatility in a unique niche that’s allowed her to apply her multiple talents to a dazzlingly diverse array of music.
As a singer, instrumentalist, and composer, Haden has built an impressively varied and accomplished discography encompassing her work as part of the beloved alt-rock quartet That Dog, her collaborations with a broad array of acts, and a series of her own releases, which often showcase her unique talent for constructing complex, evocative a cappella arrangements by inventively layering multiple tracks of her own voice.
What Haden’s far-flung creative endeavors share in common is a consistent sense of adventure and expression, along with a playful sensibility that gives her projects a consistently uplifting, inventive spirit that marks them as uniquely hers.
As one of the triplet daughters of the late, legendary jazz bassist and composer Charlie Haden, Petra was literally born into a life in music. She first picked up the violin at the age of seven, after being inspired by watching older street musicians playing.
Petra’s early fascination with the violin and other instruments led her to develop an uncanny ability to use her voice to recreate the sounds of the instruments she heard, and to develop elaborate pop, jazz, blues, and classical arrangements based on those sounds. While she was in high school, her father bought her a four-track recording deck, on which she taught herself to overdub multiple vocal tracks.
Petra first gained widespread notoriety with the 90s quartet That Dog, which also included her sister Rachel, and whose three albums of hook-filled, harmony-laden punk-pop won the band an enthusiastic fan base and considerable press enthusiasm. Petra was still a member of That Dog in 1996, when she released her first solo album, Imaginaryland, which introduced her method of layering her vocals in unexpected and wonderful ways.
After That Dog disbanded, Petra took advantage of her new solo status to apply her talents to a wide variety of musical challenges. Her 2005 album Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out reimagined The Who’s 1967 classic through her tour-de-force a cappella interpretation. The complexity of Petra’s massed vocals belied the fact that she constructed the tracks at home while recovering from some serious injuries from an auto accident, recording them on an eight track cassette recorder (a Tascam 488) given to her by friend Mike Watt, whose idea this was. He explains, “Why Petra Haden? First of all, I like the way she does music, and I was interested in how‘d she interpret a work with such a personal connection between me and D Boon. (I know, that probably sounds insane.) Second, I know she has a real focus and can really apply herself, especially in those times when she’s had some intense things tugging at her. I know D Boon would’ve loved the idea too, such a trip for us to see something reinvented that we knew so well, but in a genuine way since Petra knew nothing of it before. That‘s what was in my mind — that Petra would bring an earthiness without any preconceptions and make it new for me. I don’t know, it was a weird thing to ask of her, like a dare but I knew she was oh so capable.”
Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out‘s admirers included The Who’s Pete Townshend, who commented, “I heard the music as if for the first time. I listened all the way through in one sitting, and was struck by how beautiful a lot of the music was. Petra’s approach is so tender and generous. I adore it.”
Thanks to these and other projects, Petra’s skill for vocal harmony and instrumental accompaniment led to her voice and violin appearing on albums by the likes of the Foo Fighters, Green Day, Beck, the Twilight Singers, Cornelius, Sunn O))), Luscious Jackson, Paul Motian, and Victoria Williams. She also spent most of 2005 touring and recording with the Decemberists, and the following year joined the Foo Fighters on their Skin and Bones tour.
“I layer lots of vocal and violin tracks on practically all projects I do”, she notes. “Whenever I collaborate with people, I want to put a part of myself into it, and to make it sound unique and different. I’ll Petrafy it!”
While remaining in demand as a singer and musician for hire, Petra has still found time to maintain a prolific output of her own music. She won substantial acclaim for 2005’s Petra Haden and Bill Frisell, which matched her vocal inventiveness with the vision of master guitarist Frisell on a set of pop standards ranging from Gershwin to Tom Waits. In 2014, she teamed with sisters Rachel and Tanya to record the widely celebrated Haden Triplets, produced by Ry Cooder. The three sisters (along with their brother Josh, who leads the band Spain) had previously recorded together on their father’s autobiographical 2008 album Rambling Boy.
Haden‘s 2013 album Petra Goes to the Movies, was a typically ambitious effort that reflects her lifelong fascination with film scoring. On it, she layered her vocals to create personalized reinventions of classic Hollywood film scores ranging from Rebel Without a Cause to Psycho. Petra also put her scoring skills to good use on assignments for various film, TV, and commercial soundtracks. In 2010, for instance, she scored a trio of Toyota Prius commercials, composing and recording her own a cappella originals for two and creating an inventive a cappella version of the Bellamy Brothers’ “Let Your Love Flow” for the third.
“I loved going to the movies, watching cartoons and getting lost in the music when I was a kid”, Petra says, explaining how soundtrack music has been a touchstone through much of her life. “The music is what kept my attention more than anything. The feeling it gave me is what inspired me to do it on my own.”
Julian Lage belongs to the “highest category of improvising musicians, those who can enact thoughts and impulses as they receive them” (New Yorker). The California-born, New York–based guitarist has evolved from collaborator (with giants such as Gary Burton, Jim Hall, David Grisman, Béla Fleck, and Charles Lloyd) to band leader. On Modern Lore, Julian Lage’s second studio recording with his trio, the composer, guitarist and “modern master” (Jazzwise) creates “a virtuosic swirl of twangy textures and gritty grooves” (Downbeat), building his melodies and solos around the work of the prodigious rhythm section of double bassist Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wollesen. Modern Lore finds Lage playfully flipping the script he followed on his acclaimed 2016 Mack Avenue debut, Arclight. NPR calls Modern Lore “the strongest album of Lage’s career so far, and the first that fully captures his trademark melding of fleet precision, open-road possibility and radiant self-assurance“. Evidenced in a wide discography of duo projects (Fred Hersh, Nels Cline, and Punch Brothers guitarist Chris Eldridge), the New Yorker muses, “There’s a disarming spirit of generosity in the musicianship of Julian Lage, and a keener sense of judicious withholding. A guitarist with roots tangled up in jazz, folk, classical and country music…”