San Francisco Bay Area electro-acoustic ensemble Negative Press Project featuring Andrew Lion (bass) and Ruthie Dinnen (piano/keyboards) celebrate their ravishing second album Eternal Life | Jeff Buckley Songs and Sounds, a tribute to iconic pop singer Jeff Buckley, with a CD release concert on Friday, November 17, 9 p.m. at Doc’s Lab.
For information call 415-649-6191.
Jeff Buckley released one album during his all-too-brief life, but 1994’s Grace catapulted the beautiful young artist into the pop cultural firmament, where he remains an incandescently glittering presence two decades after drowning in the Wolf River. Dozens of singers have covered his songs in the ensuing years, but there’s never been a tribute like Negative Press Project’s Eternal Life | Jeff Buckley Songs and Sounds, which was produced by bass master Jeff Denson and will be released November 17, 2017 on Denson’s non-profit label Ridgeway Records.
Co-led by bassist Andrew Lion and pianist/keyboardist Ruthie Dineen, the expansive ensemble brings a supple textural palette to Buckley’s material, transforming his emotionally wrought, show-stopping vocal vehicles into strikingly beautiful instrumental settings. Erasing distinctions between jazz and chamber music, rock and instrumental pop, NPP expands Buckley’s legacy by tapping into his beatific lyricism.
With a background in rock and pop, Lion came up with the idea of a Jeff Buckley project while “looking for music underserved in the modern jazz canon,” he says. “I’ve heard Brad Mehldau play some Buckley but not too many other instrumental versions. I think it’s such exalted material with a certain generation that it felt off limits.”
When he approached Dineen, a player versed in classical music and Latin jazz, about arranging some Buckley songs for a concert he found an eager co-conspirator and fellow Buckley aficionado. NPP was already a talent-laden working ensemble with its original cohorts, tenor saxophonist Tony Peebles (of the Grammy Award Winning Pacific Mambo Orchestra), trumpeter Rafa Postel (Katchafire), and alto saxophonist Chris Sullivan; but this was further affirmed after a series of concerts with the addition of saxophonist Lyle Link, drummer Isaac Schwartz, and the brilliant young guitarist Luis Salcedo (who introduced his gorgeous collaboration with Colombian vocalist Susana Pineda on the 2016 eponymous Ridgeway album Opaluna).
One reason the Buckley material succeeds so vividly is that Lion and Dineen have attracted a similarly stellar community of musicians to augment the ensemble, bringing their vision to life in the studio, with performances from the highly musical drummer Mike Mitchell, veteran altoist James Mahone, and trumpeter Max Miller-Loran.