Music from the Heart

Jenny Hallahan quartet - This Life (EP)

Jenny Hallahan is composer and bass player from Kildare, Ireland. She has performed as a bass player throughout Ireland over the last 10-12 years, sharing the stage with some of Ireland’s finest. Throughout her career, Jenny has worked as a side-woman for various original artists in Ireland including Zrazy, Mystic Tears, Dorotha Konchevska, Propeller Palms, and Talking Waves. Jenny has a BA in Music from Waterford Institute of Technology, as well as BA in Jazz performance from New Park Music centre, Ireland’s primary centre for jazz. She has studied under major figures such as Eric Sweeney and Ronan Guilfoyle.

She is set to release her debut EP with her newly formed quartet, “This Life” The EP consists of five pieces composed by Jenny for baritone sax, piano, drums and bass.Jenny says that the EP was “Inspired by Life itself.” The jazz tunes skip and soar through intricate melodies and polished arrangements, creating uplifting and thoughtful soundscapes. The project secures the emerging composer as one to watch in the Irish jazz scene, and she cites influences such as Alfa Mist, Avishai Cohen, and Pino Palladino.

Jenny says about the project, “My partner and I took a sabbatical to Bali for 3 months in late 2019. Inspired by the beautiful beaches, surf, waterfalls and landscapes, I began developing the ideas for my first release. 2020 gave Jenny the space and time to work on composing the music for this release and with support from the arts council of Ireland she  assembled her Quartet”.

She goes on to say, “The gender imbalance within the jazz scene in Ireland has always been an issue. In the last year I started to look and see if it was the same in all genres of music. I found it wasn’t, and electronic dance music presented a platform where women are equally treated for what they write and produced. These women have inspired me to do the same within the jazz scene.”

This Life” was recorded remotely with recording/mixing engineer Scott Halliday, and was mastered in Austin, Texas by Stephen Ceresia of Stonyfield Mastering. The performers on the record include Owen O’Neill (Baritone Sax), Luke Dunford (Piano), and Dylan Lynch (Drums).

A wise man once said starts with a dramatic base line that sets the tone for the composition. The bright tinkles of the piano uplift the overall mood and the saxophone gives it depth, soul. The dynamic changes throughout the track from laid back to high energy where it nearly concides with the heartbeat as you listen.

Breathe is a perfect title for the slow, bluesy, meditative comopsition. You would enjoy this one best with eyes closed, forget about the outside world for the duration of this enchanting track. The saxophone, piano and drums take center stage and expecially the saxophone tones get under your skin and touch the deepest corner of your soul. The piano brings you back to the surface so you wouldn't drown.

Swerve is hugely atmospheric piece where you can hear the rain lashing down on the window, see the sky get darker and the storm approaching. Then everything calms down again and the pleasant sound of the rain eases all the worries and lets you sleep peacefully.

The title track, This Life, brings the sense of tranquility. The piano does true wonders here and elevates already a well-crafted piece.

Without Time stands out for various reasons. Its melody and progression is a bit different from the rest but certainly continues in the peaceful mood. The interesting arrangement is almost like a story, keeping the listener interested from start to finish.

There is something for everyone on this EP and even those who are not really keen to listen to jazz in general will find themselves enjoying this offering.

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