Coming From Blue

September 15, 2017
Debbie Kirkland
Claranai Records

You’ll find “Coming From Blue” in the jazz vocal section but, this sojourn soundtrack is a fusion of music across the kaleidoscope.  “It is really reflective of who I am” the lady states of her sophomore album. “I’m not just one thing.”

The only jazz “standard” here among primarily original material is Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady”. She sings it as a homage to where she studied in High School,

The Duke Ellington School For The Performing Arts. Never one to do anything predictable, Debbie renders it in 5/4 and adds to the writing in the song that reveals Duke’s actual inspiration behind the song which is far different than what the later added lyrics by Mitchell Parish convey.  Listen, then Google.

The root of “Coming From Blue” is the nakedly confessional waltz “Blue With You” the most aching and depths plumbing vocal of the album and this set’s oldest original, which Debbie started writing the lyrics for in 2000.  Things take an upswing artistic turn when the kismet of a shared attorney in Manhattan introduced Debbie to Preston Vismale, the Musical Director of the Harlem Gospel Choir. “Preston and I wrote the majority of the songs over time and it was both of our intentions to record these songs with this band. Although it took years to accomplish, lucky for us the guys were all around when I finally found the space to get this project off the ground.” Out of the partnership in writing emerged the jubilant “River Song”, the voodoo-spun reflection “I Saw Miles” (as in Miles Davis) and the dreamy meditation “A Wish”. All the while, love was the chant, the truth and the light in the new songs like “Kissing You”, “I Want To Be Romanced” and the infectious violin-spiced “XuXu Bird” (pronounced koo koo), highlighted by flirtatious song-closing conversation between Debbie’s voice and French superstar percussionist Mino Cinelu of Weather Report and Miles Davis fame. “Canto Do Janaina” is about the Orisha Yemenya (from Nigeria’s Yoruba religion).

“Whether incapacitating or healing, I always sing about love,” Debbie sighs. “Love is my reason for being on the planet.”

Which brings us to the epic finale “Where Love Goes”, a duet with Steve Washington – lyrics as if torn from a musical theater libretto and an arrangement buoyed by the cinematic sweep of strings as if from a black and white Hollywood movie. Filled with lived-in perspective, it’s the album’s most recent composition Kirkland has penned. “I wrote the song in minutes. People can love each other but, become confined by their limitations. You look around and think, who’s really living their life and who is making due?”

Time alone and time with all the creative people she invited into this very personal work of art illuminate Debbie Kirkland’s “Coming From Blue” with existential authenticity and musical mastery. “ I didn’t want to come back to music,’ Debbie explains. “I wanted it to come back to me, organically. I didn’t have a song to sing during a dark period in my life. It came back and now I give it to others.”

 “My title represents a resurrection after going through the process of life,” Kirkland concludes. You have to trust that no matter what hand you’re dealt, you’ll come out stronger on the other end.  Keep the faith.”