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Vocalist Carol Welsman finds inspiration from world travels for album “Journey”

On her 10th recording, vocalist Carol Welsman invites her followers to tag along on a spirited yet intimate adventure. The vocalist explores 14 classic songs on Journey (Justin Time Records), all inspired by her lifelong love of traveling.
While jaunting from city to city can be somewhat draining for most people, Welsman enjoys the same sense of happy wanderlust that she had the first time she flew to Boston from her hometown of Toronto to attend the Berklee College of Music as a piano performance major. Since then, she has jazzed thousands of fans everywhere from Tokyo and New York to Italy and Brazil; lived for years in France, Italy and Los Angeles; and continues to be an iconic figure in her home country of Canada, where she has received five Juno nominations over the course of her 15-year recording career.
While her rich discography includes numerous acclaimed recordings showcasing her powerful skills as a songwriter, Journey follows in the tradition of Welsman’s previous thematic excursions, including Swing Ladies Swing! A Tribute to Singers of the Swing Era (1999), What’cha Got Cookin’, a set of jazzed up country standards produced by Pierre and Mary Cossette (2005), the Japan-released Benny Goodman tribute Memories of You (2008) and Welsman’s the tour de force I Like Men, Reflections of Miss Peggy Lee, which earned the singer her fifth Juno nod for Best Jazz Vocal Album of the Year in Canada and was named one of USA Today’s Top 5 albums of the year (alongside Barbra Streisand and Mark Knopfler) and #3 album of the year in Jazz Times.
Produced by Welsman’s longtime band members, guitarist Pierre Coté and drummer/percussionist Jimmy Branly, Journey also features Marc Rogers on bass and a guest spot by trumpeter Ron Di Lauroon “You Came a Long Way from St. Louis.”  Though most songs are sung in her native English, she draws on her fluency in French for “Volons Vers La Lune” (an exuberant, coolly swinging adaptation of “Fly Me to the Moon”) and the hauntingly eloquent “Si J’étais Un Homme,” and sings Portuguese throughout the first part of a spirited romp through Jobim’s “Samba De Avião.”

Beyond the compelling song list and Welsman’s unique interpretations, another fascinating element of this Journey is the fact that every tune was recorded in one or two takes, with the band recording 16 tracks in four days. Welsman prepared for the sessions with pre-production demos and, embodying the true essence of jazz, was open to changing course and improvising when the spirit of the song led the band in a different direction during the rehearsal session before recording. Her idea to drop the drums from “Route 66,” for instance, happened during the first run through the song in the recording studio.

“That’s the great thing about jazz, being open to making last-minute changes to make every song and arrangement flow just right,” says Welsman in a news release. “I wanted to play with the intimacy of the music, which means there could be a sudden change of attitude, as in ‘Never Make Your Move too Soon,’ which started out as a straight blues but seemed too forced that way. The result was that we were able to have a nice palette of colors with which to present this special array of songs. One of the key things was vibe. I didn’t want to be too over the top, but more on the quiet side so that you could put it on during dinner and then later it would lend itself to more detailed listening. Because we were drawing from so many sources and influences, I was amazed at the end that everything had an organic feel and was totally cohesive. All the themes connected as if we had somehow planned it that way. Dropping an instrument here and there definitely was part of the balanced approach we took.”

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