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Sirena Riley



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Sirena Riley started her first night in London by opening a ‘Time Out’ magazine and going to the first jazz open mic session she could find. Australian pianist and composer, Tom Donald was the house pianist. They were introduced over a spine-tingling, room-silencing performance of Duke Ellington’s ‘Solitude’ that startled even the performers. After eyeing each other suspiciously, they agreed that a collaboration was inevitable. Two years later, their first single, ‘Half Moon’ was a semi-finalist in the 2008 UK Songwriting competition. This autumn, the debut song cycle and album, ‘The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet’ will be released on their own label, Remigrant Records.
An Ellington tune was a fitting platform given that Sirena grew up in a suburb of Washington, DC, birthplace of that illustrious composer. She began singing in choirs as a child and later contributed vocals for several DC bands. She settled on jazz because as she says, “its delicious.” She split for London after meeting several skillful, inspired artists based in Europe and the UK. She felt at home among them, and knew instinctively that London was where she belonged.

‘The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet’ is the result of a one day recording session featuring a brilliant line up. Reedist, Mark Buckingham, is best described as the bass clarinet’s answer to Eric Dolphy. The vibrant lucidity of double-bassist, Vanessa McGowan joins the band at the hips, while James Kaye’s perceptive percussion adds an uncanny texture to Donald’s obliquely dissonant melodies.

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