Shannon Gunn: On A Mountain - The Posthumous Debut Album
An unearthed treasure of a recording from one of Canada's most beloved vocalists and educators, this 2001 studio recording was never released, and is Shannon Gunn's posthumous debut.
Shannon tragically passed from cancer in 2020, leaving the music community with a massive void. Shannon inspired hundreds if not thousands of musicians to dedicate their lives to jazz music and her loss was felt by the entire jazz industry. This release comes out just over a year after her passing.
The album is a true discovery, brought to the label from Shannon's husband Brian Dickenson. It features a dream team band of multi-Juno Award winners Renee Rosnes on piano, Neil Swainson on bass, Billy Drummond on drums, Brad Turner on trumpet, Pat Labarbera on saxophone and Rick Lazar on percussion.
On A Mountain was Produced and Arranged by 5-Time Juno Award winning jazz legend Renee Rosnes!
Canadian singer and composer Shannon Gunn died in July 2020. The Vancouver-born musician initially studied classical piano and later worked as a teacher, pursuing opportunities for concerts and composition. As a kind of in memoriam, but one that functions as a celebration of her life and her musical achievements, this disc, recorded back in 2001 but only mixed recently, is her first album.
She has on board some quality colleagues, as a quick perusal of the personnel will show. Three of the songs are her own and stylistically she situates herself firmly in the Great American Songbook. She sounds as confident and relaxed with her trio backing as when guests join. Pianist Renee Rosnes is the proverbial tower of strength, a really articulate stylist and supportive accompanist, and of bassist Neil Swainson not much else need be said, given he has worked with Herb Ellis, Barney Kessell, Mel Tormé and a host of others – I first heard him with George Shearing. Billy Drummond is the drummer, a world class performer but one whose association with Carla Bley is relevant here given that Gunn sings Carla’s Blues, otherwise better known as Bley’s famous instrumental Sing Me Softly of the Blues. For her version Gunn employs the words supplied by another great singer, Britain’s Norma Winstone. The result is captivating, irradiated by the contributions of trumpeter Brad Turner and tenor sax player Pat Labarbera.
Gunn is a poised and focused vocalist, utterly tasteful throughout, profoundly musical, and not given to extraneous gestures. The band is tight as a drum, the arrangements are varied and clever, and once or twice quite complex. Shannon Gunn proves an admirable singer and it’s some compensation that this disc will alert those who never heard her as to just how good she was.
--MusicWeb International (Jonathan Woolf)
Catalog Number: 10121
Label: Cellar Live