Lauren HendersonConjuringBrontosaurus Records

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Vocalist Lauren Henderson issues her tenth leader recording ‘Conjuring’ due out April 21, 2023 via Brontosaurus Records

An American-born singer-songwriter deeply informed by her Afro-Latinx heritage..” – Morgan Enos,

Vocalist Lauren Henderson returns on her tenth leader date, Conjuringdue out April 21 via Brontosaurus Records. Like its predecessor, La Bruja, this new recording continues to incorporate themes of magic and mysticism throughout, specifically emphasizing the power of Black American Music and Afro-Latinx experiences. Henderson, who identifies as a Black American with vast Caribbean and Afro-Latin roots, has dutifully upheld both Latin music and jazz traditions across her repertoire while carving distinct meaning into her very personal intersection of the two.

Henderson’s enchanting and fervent 10-track collection on Conjuring is supported by first-call accompanists, including Joel Ross on vibes, Eric Wheeler on bass and Joe Dyson on drums, while Gabe Schneider and Nick Tannura divide guitar duties as do pianists Sean Mason and John Chin, all of whom contributed to the lush sorcery on La Bruja and “expertly sustain the appealing Latin jazz-noir mood,” (Alex Henderson, New York City Jazz Record). 

Interpretation is essential to Henderson’s adroitness. In a 2020 interview with DownBeat Magazine, she discusses her devotion to the integrity of a tune. Specifically, she feels sensitive to the lyrics of jazz standards. “I don’t feel like I can give a strong interpretation and representation of the song if I can’t find some way of connecting to it.” In a similar vein, Henderson was recognized by last October as one of “10 Jazz Artists Blending And Expanding The Sounds of Latin America.”

This fidelity to tradition, matched with her innately-articulate and warm timbre, distinguishes Henderson’s craft as one that is deeply perceptive and intricately measured. Listeners can sense this precision throughout Conjuring, and especially during Henderson’s selection of reimagined standards, which include “That Old Black Magic”, “Day Dream”, “It’s Magic” and “I Wish You Love.” She opts for subtlety throughout her repertoire, embracing her distinct contralto and hushed tones while exploring her own connection to sounds and ideas that harken back to eras as early as the ‘40s.

Through vigorous multitracking, Henderson’s savvy vocal forays on originals like “Potions” and “Amuleto” showcase the spellbinding qualities of her layered compositions. The lattermost opening at the command of Ross’ ethereal rubato on vibraphone, a fine example of his arresting complexities. Another original, album opener “Spells,” casts an array of magic-related metaphors including the idea of love as flame, reinforced through scintillating rhythmic interplay between Mason, Wheeler and Dyson.

Title track “Conjuring” is a standout for comparable reasons. An illustration of her intriguing yet reticent lyricism, Henderson softly whispers that “in its own way, love’s divine.” Yet even when such lyrics halt, this gentle poeticism is sustained instrumentally, particularly through a mesmeric motif introduced by Mason, which wondrously reverberates later on “Amuleto.” 

Traces of reggae punctuate tracks like “Coercion” and serve as a reminder that Henderson is deftly equipped to transpose multiple sonic landscapes at once. That sort of nuance and exploration suffuses every turn on Conjuring, making the vocalist’s latest effort both a scheme of vast musical affections and strong basis for its high rank among the cardinals of modern jazz artistry.