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Heart and Soul

Heart and Soul

By Steven Boyd Saum

View full image. Photography by Daniel Garcia
Siren Songs—the debut album by Jackie Gage ’13

Sometimes it’s better to give in to temptation: the smoky voice, the beguiling melody, the lure of rhythm toward something that you know well but is nevertheless enchanting and new. What you hear, in the arc of songs: ghosts of torch singers past—and the groove of a new jazz thang. What you hear is Siren Songs, debut album of Jackie Gage ’13.

Siren Song: Listen to the song “It’s Your Love” on Soundcloud.

Perhaps you’re there in the storied jazz club Yoshi’s, in Oakland (album release party, March 15), hearing the siren in person, as she sings a song of first love: the crush that ever lingers in your heart—and the ache when you discover that you weren’t the only fire in that other’s heart. There’s a spooky marimba whose oh, oh, oh knocking gives shape and percussion to the memory. The song is called “It’s Your Love.” It brushes up against “That Old Black Magic” and, before the album and night are through, will weave in the soul colors of “Afro Blue.” (How could a song from 1959 sound so now? And how cool is that?)

Jackie Gage’s voice and songs are no stranger to us. Beginning in her student days she sang with bands here and about the Bay, from Berkeley to the Fillmore Jazz Fest—and one of our favorites, the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest. She curated a stellar showcase of women singers (and a few men) for The Blackbird Tavern and called it “Fatale.” The year she graduated from SCU she and dancer Lauren Baines ’08 were recognized with the inaugural Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award, presented by the San Jose Rotary. Music has taken her to the East Coast, at least for now. What does she hope you hear in this new album?

“I’ve been straddling all these musical worlds. I grew up listening to Billie Holiday and Ella and Louis Armstrong but then heard Erykah Badu, Sade, and Dionne Warwick, soul, Motown …”

For the golden anniversary of the Golden Circle Theatre Party, after 89-year-old Tony Bennett charmed the crowd and took us halfway to the stars, you could find 24-year-old Jackie Gage singing in an intimate jazz lounge at the Fairmont, where the party continued. She was there with Med’s Mood Swings, a trio of fellas (with SCU political scientist Peter Minowitz tickling the ivories) taking us deeper into the night with jazz standards. They gave a slightly different take on a tune you know well. Where did you leave your heart? An answer—sing with me: “I left my heart … in Santa Clara …”

 “I did,” Jackie Gage said. “I really did.”

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