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Bill Kwan

No Ordinary Love: The Music of Sade

From the album No Ordinary Love: The Music of Sade
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San Francisco vocalist Bill Kwan boldly redefines himself as he delves deeply into the songbook of one of the 20th century’s most popular female singers with No Ordinary Love: The Music of Sade. Working alongside veteran jazz producer Matt Pierson and collaborating with a brilliant cast of players, he brings a confidently sensuous male sensibility to Sade’s material. Kwan is both reverent and resolutely unprecious in reimagining her music.

Kwan’s New York dream team is distinguished by deep connections to both the city’s jazz scene and innovative singer/songwriters, starting with pianist/keyboardist Kevin Hays, a veteran improviser who also composes his own songs. Sex Mob and Bill Frisell bassist Tony Scherr and the brilliant Japanese-born drummer/percussionist Keita Ogawa round out the ace rhythm section. Paris-raised Django Festival All-Stars accordion master Ludovic Beier and Russia-reared trumpeter Alex Sipiagin contribute memorable solos.

Kwan finds a way to get inside Sade’s music, navigating treacherous emotional terrain while flipping the gender dynamic in familiar narratives. “It’s very different tackling these songs from a male perspective and I could only sing pieces where I could identify with the lyrics,” Kwan says. We maintained the fragile quality of Sade’s music even though the feel is very different.”

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