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Lisa Engelken Little Warrior

Little Warrior
Lisa Engelken
Little Angels Records

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Little Warrior, the highly-anticipated new release by Bay Area jazz vocalist Lisa Engelken, will be available in stores October 1, 2013.

Engelken has written, arranged & produced eleven arresting tracks that journey to the heavens above and down to the depths below, painting an aural chiaroscuro of the soul. Little Warrior showcases Engelken’s sonic palate, as it colors cacophonous then suddenly strips down, naked. Consonance and dissonance interweave, swirl and wrestle for position as her voice cuts raw, soars powerful, or simply floats pristine.

Lisa describes Little Warrior as a travelogue of the parallel musical and spiritual journeys that she embarked upon two years ago. With an uncanny emotional depth and technical fluency, Lisa wields her acrobatic three-octave range and draws upon the beauty and brutality of the human experience to explore and embrace her own angels and demons. The album’s title alludes to the Four Dignities of the Warrior and the writings of Chögyam Trungpa.

Influenced by a wide variety of musical genres, Engelken refers to her works as “musical mutts.” The passionate singer-arranger sets herself apart by following a seemingly visceral need to convey a song’s story not only through lyric, but through varied vocal techniques, arrangement, instrumentation and harmony.

Little Warrior is Engelken’s follow-up to Caravan, released in 2010 to both critical and popular acclaim. The album propelled her into the national jazz scene and was named among the “Best of 2010” by the Jazz Journalists Association. Among Caravan’s ten bold adaptations are “From the Earth,” Lisa’s exciting lyric version of Freddie Hubbard’s jazz-funk classic “Red Clay” and “White Wedding” by Billy Idol.

Where Caravan has been described as “mainstream with a twist,” Little Warrior marks a natural evolution of Lisa’s artistic style that now ventures into more complex thematic and harmonic territory. Engelken continues to push the boundaries of the jazz vocal canon, making an edgier, more personal statement that includes four originals, “Undertow,” her haunting new lyric version of Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti,” plus fresh takes on works by The Cars, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell and Abbey Lincoln. Lisa, who speaks fluent Italian, has also included an unabashedly joyous samba that was written by Franco Godi for an Italian children’s cartoon.

In March 2011, Lisa unveiled the Little Warrior Project to live audiences and held monthly concerts re-working and debuting new material. The project culminated in the recording of eleven songs. With 75% of the recording completed, the indie artist was broke. Determined to see her project through, Lisa turned to her musical family of fans. "Mine is the best fan base you could ever have!” Engelken exclaimed. “They’ve played a big part in the development of Little Warrior, so it made perfect sense that they would respond so quickly- and so generously, to my call for help to finish the project.”

L.A.-based pianist Bill Cantos and Bay Area musicians Sam Bevan (bass) and Matthew Swindells (drums) joined Lisa in the studio for the initial two-day session, laying down the basic tracks: “It was a truly magical collaboration. The songs seemed to appear under our feet as we moved through them.” Engelken subsequently overlaid additional tracks that feature performances by some of the best players in the Bay Area music scene.

Engelken is a Kansas-born straight shooter, whose live stage performance has garnered her comparisons to Evel Knievel, Janis Joplin and even a roaring Harley Davidson. Lisa looks forward to performing Little Warrior live. The release concerts kick off November 2013, at The Sound Room in Oakland, CA. The Little Warrior Tour is currently being planned for 2014.

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