I’m happy to report that Circle in a Square has recieved glowing reviews. As I braced myself for absolutely anything, I was thrilled that the way in which I had hoped the CD would be heard is, in fact, the way it was received. I don’t try to be difficult in picking a team to play for or to, but I have always served my creative process first before thinking about marketing and promotion. It’s not that I want to live on an island, it’s just that I believe authenticity and working from your gut is much more interesting and garners more lively results. Circle in a Square is really no different than my other two solo outings, Avalon and Hardly Blinking, in that the same process applied, and when you listen to those projects, they too have their own “in the moment” voice. Well, Avalon took a much longer time to make, but it doesn’t mean I’d taken my eye off the road.
In any event, I’m proud that Circle is being recognized for it’s bold statement on where Jazz compostion could go if the doors were opened a bit wider. And I’m proud that it’s finally clear that just because I’m not singing the American Songbook, I’m not a Jazz artist. Let that whisper be stamped out at it’s first chirp. I think of myself as a jazz vocalist for sure, but like most worldly folk, I like many different kinds of music, so those influences have steeped into my artistry, allowing me to play with a fuller spectrum of colors and nuances. That’s my prerogative. That’s my pleasure. That’s why I keep writing, so that I can keep searching and trying new sounds on for size.
I’m going to let the reviews below speak for themselves. It’s nice to have your work affirmed. It’s easy for it to disappear or miss the target, so I’m happy to know it is bringing people pleasure, that they are discovering new bits with every listen, and that one song at a time, I can connect with the world outside my own musical head.
Thank you for stopping by, Lauren
Lauren Kinhan’s Circle in a Square is a Tour de Force. – Jazz Journal
The next time someone tells you that modern music is soulless, does not “speak” to the human condition, refer them to “Circle In A Square.” Lauren Kinhan and her ensemble have created music that artfully and splendidly avoids labels such as jazz, pop or funk; this is music that connects on multiple levels with grace, fire and a mature understanding of how one navigates through the shifty terrain of modern life. Dig deeply! As attractive as this music is on initial listening (Elliot Schneiner’s production and engineering makes each instrument stand out without hiding the vocal), it’s the strength of the songs and the vocals that makes the deepest impression. Ms. Kinhan’s emotional delivery, her ability to bend a note to make a word sustain, and the poetry in much of the program is a joy to return to time and again. And, she can swing! – Richard Kamins, Step Tempest
4 Stars! Kinhan executes the most intricate of passages flawlessly, whether jumping octaves at high speed or romping through the bebop changes. “The Deep Within,” a tone poem of spiritual yearning, is a stunner. -Allen Morrison, Downbeat Magazine
Lauren Kinhan….is a tremendously gifted jazz singer. The added advantage of Kinhan’s individual releases is that they showcase her estimable songwriting dexterity…She opens with the free-floating title track, a joyous reconfirmation that music is the food of love….Kinhan has never shone brighter. –Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times
There are layers of texture, organic bits of lyrical wonder that magically fuse together to make a contemporary mosaic of harmonic wonder that sets a new standard for improvisational vocalists everywhere. The sorority of female vocalists is a tightly clustered pack with Lauren Kinhan making a bold new statement that bodes well for the future. Nothing to grind on here, it simply does not get much better than this. 5 Stars! – Brent Black, Bop-N-Jazz, Blog
Lauren Kinhan has an album that arouses my memories of those early stereo days. The artwork clearly sets the atmosphere. Early sixties. Hi-Fidelity. Her luscious, velvet voice is a good place to rest your weary head. I don’t listen to a lot of vocal jazz, but I keep coming back to this one. The band behind her is brilliant…. The melody and narrative are all on stage. You need to keep coming back to this to get the whole point of jazz. Lauren Kinhan is someone to come back to. – Ken Blanchard, JazznotesSDP, Blog
Lauren Kinhan steps out for her third solo outing with a load of first call big apple jazzbos in tow. Amazingly enough, this set sounds familiar but sounds like nothing you’ve heard before. Working without limitations, she pursues her muse at several levels giving us a nu kind of jazz thrush without the tortured artist effect on board. A solidly swinging set that’s in the pocket throughout, this is a powerful outing that never fails to connect. Hot stuff. – Chris Specter, Midwest Record
4 Stars! Kinhan’s third album release shows her as a vocal tour de force; her songwriting abilities are here also given the limelight, with all the tracks written or co-written by her. These twisting, unpredictable tunes seem to offer up more on each repeat listen, with Kinhan’s supple voice running at full pelt through a broad musical palette. She’s a fan of Joni Mitchell and Mitchell’s influence can be heard in the effortless slides between octaves. Pinpoint vocal precision is complemented well by Randy Brecker guesting on trumpet in the title track. – Sally Evans-Darby, Jazz Journal
Kinhan shows off vocal prowess in “Circle in a Square.” It allows her to show off not only her voice, but also her writing skills. She gets lead billing on 10 of the 12 songs and shares the writing role on the other two. The songs include post-modern pieces such as the title track, a slightly brooding “Another Hill to Climb” and the clever “Bear Walk,” a jazz telling of the Three Bears story. Whatever the direction, the songs all let her show off a voice that can spring into the upper register, do some scat a bit or handle lovely lyrics. –Bob Karlovits, The Tribune
The opening tune is the title piece and is such a perfectly constructed piece with a jazz-pop sensibility, it might be the contemporary missing link of what Frank Sinatra was in the 1940s and ’50s.’ Kinhan does not belabor the piece with duplicates throughout Circle. Instead, she proceeds through the late-night feel of “Another Hill to Climb” and slick R&B flavored “I’m Looking for That Number.” “Pocketful of Harlem” is edgy and modern, instrumentally a showcase for Kinhan’s solid alto chimes. This singer’s solo recordings stand in fine and forward-thinking contrast to her durable work with New York Voices. – C Michael Bailey, Allaboutjazz.com
Circle In A Square is an impressive album, which captures this singer and composer in the prime of her musical career. –Be Bop Spoken Here (Review by Debra Milne)
“Circle in a Square” is Kinhan’s best album to date, and a brilliant realization of her diverse musical world…. the music incorporates swing, bebop, rumba, chanson, R&B, soul, funk and pop. But the number of elements is less striking than the way Kinhan mixes them into her own style. – Thomas Cunniffe, Jazz History Online, Concert Review
“I have a feeling that this recording might make some people’s top ten lists when it comes to the end of the year.” -Randy McElligott, CHUO Radio, Ottawa
Circle In A Square is excellent and a lesson in contemporary singing, composing and lyrics. – Don Albert, Art Spoken
It’s modern contemporary jazz song smithing of the highest order. And her singing has the marvelous nuance that makes her formidable. It’s more than a keeper; it’s a killer in what it does to/for you! –Greggo Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review