Fourth Album from Promis, "Life is Grand!"

The fourth album from Los Angeles-based artist Promis, "Life Is Grand!" represents an artistic crossroads for the established singer/songwriter. Utilizing millennium-era technology, the collaboration came together as a cross-country collaboration with Turkish songwriter/producer Ayhan Sahin.
While the pair had common allies in the artistic community, they utilized the Internet as a primary touching point throughout the process of developing lyrical themes and melodic direction. The pair came together face to face at Sahin's 2C Studios in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., in the summer of 2008 to record the vocals for the project—bringing their chemistry to fruition.

"This was a first for me, " Promis says. "I had heard a lot about Ayhan's reputation and it felt right in terms of combining influences. After traveling several times through Mediterranean countries and becoming engrossed in their music and histories, I felt inspired to add new textures to what I create."

Influenced by his travels, the 14 songs on "Life Is Grand!" explore themes of life, love and lessons, with a rich tapestry of all-live instruments, including classical guitars, violin, bass, flute, percussion and electric guitars. The musical triptych is truly a mesh of world influences, while maintaining a decidedly pop imprint.

Chilean-born Jose Promis began playing in Los Angeles' cabaret and burlesque scene of the early 2000s. In fall 2005, his songs were featured in the musical "Night Of The Black Cat, " a take-off on French cabaret, and in early 2006, he released first album "Promis, " which drew heavily from that style of music. That year, he also performed in Paris for the first time and recorded "For Respect" for a French label compilation, while entertaining for the renowned "Ghetto Gourmet" underground restaurant series.

In May 2007, Promis released follow-up "Promis 2, " which drew heavily from world music. He sang on a Beijing Chinese New Year TV show, played L.A.'s annual Fete de la Musique and his song "Drinking Alone" was showcased on XM Radio in the U.S. In October 2007, "With Some Of Us Blessed" was featured on the benefit album "A Drop Of Rain: Songs Of Strength And Hope For Darfur."

Earlier in 2008, Promis' song "It's A Fire!" from his first album was featured in the independent art-house film "Marta's Sex Tape." He also varied his performance style, playing 1930's-styled sets for the Hollywood Women's Club and theatrical-styled shows for the Antebellum Art Gallery. In July, "Promis III, " was released, which blends electronic and dance. Again, he found a sizable fan base in Paris, where he toured throughout the summer, along with gigs throughout France and Belgium.

"Life Is Grand!" represents another turning point for Promis, as ancient ideals meet contemporary production, resulting in a timeless melange of melodic masterpieces. Contributing to that signature is arranger/producer Sahin, who, in 2000, surrendered a decade-long career in his native Turkey as a civil engineer—after parading his acclaimed theater group Young Pals around the world—to pursue his dream as a songwriter and producer. With a Master's Degree from NYU's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, he has worked with dozens of artists on four continents as a producer, arranger and songwriter.

Sahin notes, "What an amazing experience it was to bring my Turkish influences to an artist as diverse and well-traveled as Jose. His Chilean heritage played a part, as well as his experiences in Europe. We set out to make a pop album, but so many world influences were at play. I really believe we created a sound that is both accessible and yet wholly unique. It's been a great ride, with surprises that we shared between us at every turn."

Promis adds, "Collaborating as closely as I did with Ayhan was amazing in itself. Recording these vocals was like finding a new home. But as we developed these songs with some incredibly talented musicians, they ultimately took on new life that resulted in several duets. That was a turning point for me, to share the mic and find these singers whose perspective complemented everything I was trying to say this time out. I'm happy—and really proud—to have moved in this direction which, to be honest, was unexpected."

Accomplished Turkish pop star Emre Yilmaz is among Promis' vocal partners. "Home" offers a lyrical comparison of two men from different worlds finding their way in foreign lands; he is also prominently featured on classical guitar. Award-winning singer/songwriter Lina Koutrakos, who has commanded global audiences with styles ranging from torch to rock and blues, is featured with Promis on "My Benefactor" a seductive romp conjuring "The Graduate"—except this time Ben Braddock triumphs over Mrs. Robinson. In addition, Karine Hannah, a longtime favorite collaborator with Sahin, is a featured vocalist on "Lovesick." Her contribution—a spot-on emotional tour de force—adds a haunting backdrop to Promis' lyrical tale of platonic attraction. Jerri Bocchino is also featured as a background vocalist on a majority of the tracks, including the title track. She has long served as a mainstay background vocalist for the legendary Phil Spector.

Tracks from the album were showcased on Sirius Satellite Radio in fall 2008 by Larry Flick on the network's OutQ morning show. Flick comments, "Promis brings a fresh and intriguing vision to the mainstream. In collaborating with composer/producer Ayhan Sahin, he has created a cross-cultural sound that demands deep investigation. This is a remarkable debut that hints at a long, very special career ahead."

Promis says, "We had a great time recording this album, from the day we started trading ideas to finding the amazing live musicians and all of the vocal collaborators. I was tempted to name it 'Promis IV, ' but realized that this represents such a different direction. I think anyone listening will hear the inspiration that went into every note. How could we deny with what we came up with that what we have the opportunity to do is such a joy? 'Life Is Grand!' couldn't be a better title."

write your comments about the article :: © 2008 Jazz News :: home page