Eloquent and provocative singer-songwriter, Zara McFarlane, is the UK’s Black British foremost Jazz Vocalist. With two critically acclaimed albums to her name, she inhabits an unusual musical landscape, fearlessly exploring original material & reworking well known classics from the worlds of Jazz and Jamaican music. September 2017 sees her return with her third studio album “ARISE” which traces her musical heritage of the Caribbean and explores her take on the musical possibilities of British-Jamaican identity.
“ARISE,” which is produced by multi award-winning drummer Moses Boyd and released on Brownswood Recordings, is a product of their exploration of the meeting points between British Jazz sounds and the rhythms of Jamaica namely; Reggae, Kumina, and Nyabinghi. Both of Caribbean descent, the collaboration has resulted in a very sophisticated, honest offering of socio-conscious lyrics and pulsating rhythm. The album, supported by funding from PRSF Women Make Music Fund, features a stellar line up of some of the key players on the London jazz scene; Moses Boyd [Drums], Binker Golding [Ten. Sax], Peter Edwards [Piano], Max Luther [D.Bass], Shirley Tetteh [Guitar], Nathaniel Cross [Trombone], Pete Eckford [percussion] and Shabaka Hutchings [Clarinet].
Zara’s music is seductive and earthy. As a performer she is uniquely engaging, deftly combining the intricacies of jazz with a deep soulfulness, melding multiple influences from reggae to pop, folk and blues with both her originals and choice of covers. Her breakthrough 2012 jazz cover of Junior Murvin’s ‘Police and Thieves’, provided a jumping off point to further explore the blurred, colourful territory in between jazz and roots-reggae. On “ARISE” we see her continue to explore her Jamaican roots covering Nora Dean’s “PEACE BEGINS WITHIN” and a beautifully poised version of the Congos’ “FISHERMAN” teases out the poignant lyrical content of the 1977 classic. This time her originals have a socio-political lilt, inspired by the political reggae movement of 70’s Jamaica, as well as her trademark compelling self-reflections and observations.