Each week we’ve been having a jazz quartet with a special featured guest and an ever revolving rhythm section. This Friday we’re exited to be having the great Zee Gachette playing a late night set treating us to her unique take on jazz standards. Zee is an outstanding international singer, songwriter, musician and producer and having witnessed her hosting a night performing her own material, I was bowled over by her sheer intensity and spontaneity and have to agree when Jimmy Page described her as “A force of nature”. It’s going to be interesting to see what Zee does with these jazz tunes – expect plenty of free-styling, turning things upside down, scatting, quirky reharmonisations, an amazing rapport with the audience and sheer power and emotion. It’ll certainly keep Loz Thomas (Drums), Terry Pack (Double Bass) and myself (Guitar) on our toes. Zee will also be bringing down her guitar – and maybe some percussion! It’s at Doug Ellingford’s new bar Brighton Blue Note under the Greenhouse effect, Hove which has really taken off since opening. The entry is under the Greenhouse, 63 Church Rd, Hove, BN3 2BD. Just follow the steps down from the street past all the jazz graffiti into the underground lair – it’s free entry all night with the band kicking off 11pm although the bar will be open from early spinning jazz classics. Closing time 4am. Here’s some info on Zee from wikipedia.
Z* left Trinidad at 18 years old to pursue her musical career in London. She started busking and doing gigs, and was soon signed to the President of A&M Records (now part of Island Records). However, the company went into liquidation prior to the album release.
Z* gathered a serious underground following with her residency at the Vibe Bar on Brick Lane (London), as the ringleader and curator of Entry Level & Worship. Curating and introducing the audience to artists such as Shingai Shoniwa (The Noisettes), Nemo Jones (Faithless) and Keziah Jones.
It was through these residencies in 2002 that Z* was introduced to two times Danish Grammy nominee and dance music producer, Morten Varano (Murena Records, Voodoo Recordings & DRAMA!king). He was then responsible for pairing Puddu Varano with Z-Star (otherwise known as Lady Z) for the 12 inch release of “Blue Sky White Sand” which hit the number one slot on UK and Danish Radio 1 DJ favourites’ list. Shortly after, Lady Z and Morten decided to create SlowTrainSoul (originally named SlowTrain).
Their first album, “Illegal Cargo” (licensed to Tommy Boy Records in the States and Playground in Europe) was favored by the Los Angeles radio stations and venues, and had tracks featured on many HBO TV Series including Six Feet Under, Ugly Betty, Californication and CSI: Miami. In addition, tracks were aired in France, theNordics, Russia, Italy, Greece, Spain…gathering an underground following, which now spans far beyond Europe into Korea, the Philippines, Canada and Australia.
In 2003, shortly after the release of her first SlowTrainSoul album, while performing her acoustic soul jazz material in Rome, she was spotted by Francesca Bianchi (currently Gabin’s Manager) of EMI. Within weeks, the president of EMI (which later became Virgin EMI) signed Z-Star for a four album global deal. The first single was “Lost Highway”, and the album was “Who Loves Lives” (co-produced with her bass player, Vezio Bacci) in 2004.
Next came the second SlowTrainSoul album “Santimanitay” (licensed to Quango in the States).
Many people will be familiar with the music from hearing tracks from both albums on compilation albums such as Buddha Bar, Nirvana Lounge and Hotel Costes.
In 2009, Z* returned to her acoustic roots and recorded her fifth album “Masochists & Martyrs” – inspired by and dedicated to her mother, Schultzi. The songs depict how love shapes us and ultimately how love reveals the masochist and martyr within us all. Released on her independent label, Muthastar Records, set up with business partner, Lucy Anderson. The album has been deemed “a creative masterpiece” by Blues&Soul magazine.
Recently touring Europe and Russia, as well as collaborating with world champion loopmaster and beatboxer Shlomo, performing with Nigel Kennedy at BergenFest, Polish Woodstock and Ronnie Scotts as well as on his new Sony/BMG album, Arthur Brown (musician) at the Ray Davies Meltdown at Southbank Centre, and Jarek Smietana.
In 2001, Z* had a role in Mannafest’s production of “The Mango Lick” (a combination of poetry, music and theatre) directed by Rayshell, performing alongside Umar Bin Hassan (The Last Poet’s) and musicians, Marque Gilmore and Michael Mondesir. In 2002, Z* performed at the Royal Albert Hall in the celebrity cast of “The Vagina Monologues” alongside Isabella Rossellini, Myeera Syal and Beverley Knight. As well as playing a striking femme fatale role in Oliver Ashton’s dance short “The Jaffa Man” previewed in 2003 on BBC1 and at many film festivals nationwide.
Influences and Collaborations
Z-Star’s influences have been cited as Nina Simone, The Doors, Peter Green &Fleetwood Mac, Yusef Lateef, Meshell Ndegeocello, Miles Davis, Joan Armatrading, Bob Marley, Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Keziah Jones, Johnny Cash, Ástor Piazzolla, Shuggie Ottis, Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Alice Coltrane,Chris Pierce, Cat Stevens, Terry Callier, 4 Hero, Fink, Mos Def, Zero 7, Massive Attack, Thomas Dybdal, Shadow, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn and Belo Velos.
Z* has written, recorded and performed with Terry Callier, Nigel Kennedy, Keziah Jones, Richie Havens, Meshell Ndegeocello, Max Sedgley, George Benson, Sinéad O’Connor, Matthew Herbert, Natacha Atlas, Youssu Ndour, Angelique Kidjo, Noel Mckoy, Omar, Youssu Ndour, Baby Charles and Isabella Rossellini. Many collaborations with Sunlightsquare over the years, in 2008 their cover of Pastime Paradise was featured by Gilles Peterson on his Radio BBC1 show, and Sunlightsquare have remixed Z-Star’s 2011 UK summer single, Tension.