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Emily Saunders

Emily Saunders is devoted to Brazilian music, and has an ear for its nuances and the technique to express them that marks her out from the crowd of jazz vocalists on her 2011 debut album, Cotton Skies. Its successor (which Saunders launches at London’s St James’ Theatre on 17 March) is arranged and produced by Saunders for an ensemble including trumpeter Byron Wallen, pianist Bruno Heinen, and Kairos4Tet drummer Jon Scott. The oft-noted influence of New Yorker Gretchen Parlato remains plain, but Saunders pushes hints and understatements even further toward abstract sound here, and the set balances pop-catchy hooks, seductively mazy melodies, strong instrumental solos and vocal virtuosity that often mimics drum-patterns in ways that make it a startling departure from Cotton Skies. The softly gliding opener, Residing, is so smooth as to misrepresent the adventurousness of the rest of the set, but then there’s Saunders’ hauntingly languid phrasing on You Caught Me, the churning groove of the childlike drifter Moon, the rap-like Reflections and the intimate, unbugged ballad You With Me; all advance the evidence that she keeps digging deeper and more intelligently into an idiom that’s often only visited on the surface. (John Fordham, The Guardian, 2015)


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