Sun Songs (Cellar Live)

Jodi Proznick ft. Laila Biali

Released December 2017

Juno Award Nominee Vocal Jazz Album of the Year 2019




Jodi Proznick’s new album Sun Songs invites the listener into wholehearted aliveness through a musical experience of deep joy, sorrow, and reverence for the dualities of life and death that are omnipresent around us.
This project is a new venture for Jodi as a composer, bassist, producer, and songwriter, who soon after her album Foundations was nominated for a Juno Award, was faced with two sets of emotionally charged news. First, the immense joy of discovering she was pregnant and would enter the brave new world of motherhood, and second the intense sorrow of learning her mother was diagnosed with early onset dementia and would live in slow decline for the rest of her days.
The title for Sun Songs is a play on words. First, it’s a dedication to her son, and second, an idea of a life as sunrise and sunset. As if standing on the horizon watching two suns simultaneously rise and fall, yet both lighting up the sky in different ways. These are the polarities explored through each song: birth, death, the learning and unlearning of life, and the emotions that arise in its quieter moments.

Jodi had initially put her creative hat on the backburner, overtaken by the responsibilities of new motherhood and supporting her mother. But the Muse could not be shelved, and she soon found herself documenting words, images, and melodies to help process the titanic emotions transpiring through her. What came forth were songs that beheld the power of life’s most primal polarities – the amazing joy and gratitude of witnessing your child grow, paired against the consummate pain of watching your mother lose memory, capacity to engage, and the ability to care for herself. A collection of songs emerged, 8 originals and 1 cover, in a narrative documenting the process of containing these dramatic dualities and emerging more resilient and in tune with the pendulum of life.

In the land where jazz and pop meet, two genres that have always been intrinsically woven together, Sun Songs becomes the template for a new weave. Every track is an exquisite tapestry of modern harmonies and rhythms, layered with memorable melodies and potent spiritual lyrics. Featuring her prodigious quartet of Tilden Webb (piano), Jesse Cahill (drums), and Steve Kaldestad (tenor saxophone), Jodi shines an even brighter light on this album with the addition of singer Laila Biali, whose luminous vocals lift the songs to unparalleled heights. The players expand beautifully on the ideas brought forth with elegance and grace.

Sun Songs opens with “Listen” and “Beautiful Again”, a song about the miracle of birth, inspired by the line, “You have made the world beautiful again,” from First Nations poet Richard Van Camp’s poem “Welcome Song for Baby.” The impeccable “Let Go” follows, a lullaby for her mother, and “Little Bluebird”, which marks the calm before the storm. “Ancient Yearning” pulls from a poem by Vancouver poet, dancer, and scholar Celeste Snowber: “We are the language of stars, torsos swimming in light. Primal songs reside in our flesh.” These lines deliver a melody that is indeed primal and revealing, reminiscent of John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme”. And while songs “Storm” and “3 am” encapsulate moments of panic and worry amidst the struggle of modern-day life, the story weaves back to hope in “So Near, So Far” which reflects on staying connected to loved ones that have passed on. Sun Songs closes with Stephin Merritt’s “The Book of Love,” originally covered by Peter Gabriel, and brings us full circle through of a woman’s journey in love.

A stalwart on the Vancouver jazz scene as a performer and educator, Jodi Proznick is undoubtedly the perfect person to bring this work to light. Infinitely talented as a songwriter, producer, and player, she is also a mentor for the next generation of female jazz musicians. Sun Songs represents the unbridled potential of every woman’s most powerful contribution – her story. In fact, the album may become a beacon for other female artists aspiring to share their own stories with the world. Inside each song, a radiant beauty echoes, and there’s a gateway to the many different ways we can all light up the sky.
Mary Kastle

Track Listing:

1. Listen (Jodi Proznick / Shari Ulrich) 06:43

2. Beautiful Again (Richard Van Camp / Jodi Proznick) 06:35

3. Let Go (Jodi Proznick) 04:27

4. Little Bluebird (Jodi Proznick) 05:31

5. Ancient Yearning (Jodi Proznick / Celeste Snowber) 02:25

6. Storm (Jodi Proznick) 07:58

7. 3Am (Jodi Proznick) 05:47

8. So Near, So Far (Jodi Proznick) 07:21

9. The Book of Love (Stephin Merritt / Jodi Proznick) 05:29


Jodi Proznick: bass
Tilden Webb: piano
Jesse Cahill: drums
Steve Kaldestad: tenor and soprano saxophones
Laila Biali: vocals

Recorded February 25 – 26, 2017, at Monarch Studios
Executive Producer: Cory Weeds
Produced by: Jodi Proznick
Engineered by Dave Sikula

Assistant Engineer: Elisa Pangsaeng
Mastered by Chris Gestrin
Photography by Michele Mateus
Design and layout by Ian Hendrickson-Smith


Ten years ago, bassist Jodi Proznick’s ascending career hit a plateau due to family matters. After earning a Juno nomination for her 2007 quartet album, Foundations, Proznick discovered she was pregnant, and she learned that her mother had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and therefore would need a great deal of assistance and care. Today, Proznick is re-energizing her career as a bandleader with the new album Sun Songs (Cellar Live), a collection of eight original compositions and an interpretation of Stephin Merritt’s “The Book Of Love.” Proznick’s topnotch band includes pianist Tilden Webb (who is also her husband), saxophonist Steve Kaldestad, drummer Jesse Cahill and vocalist Laila Biali. Featuring emotionally charged material, Sun Songs is a powerful artistic statement. Music was central to Proznick’s life even as a toddler. Starting on the piano at 3 years old and musically literate by age 5, Proznick settled on the bass in the eighth grade. “I had not seen many girls play the bass and that was cool,” she recalled. “I dug the idea that the bass was in the back of the band and I could just do my thing and play and be a support [player].” At age 13, she experienced a pivotal moment at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, where she saw a trio performance by pianist Gene Harris, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jeff Hamilton. “We were in the fourth row,” she reminisced. “I was a 13-year-old kid with my jaw on the floor. It felt like the most joyful thing I had ever seen in my life.” A first-call bassist, Proznick has played on 40 recordings. Among the luminaries with whom she has performed or toured are pianist Harold Mabern, saxophonists George Coleman and Seamus Blake, singer Dee Daniels and multi-instrumentalist Phil Dwyer. A dedicated jazz educator, Proznick is a faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and serves as the artistic director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s School of Music Summer Jazz Workshop. Her accolades include numerous National Jazz Awards in Canada, and she was the featured bassist for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games’ closing ceremonies and soundtrack. Sun Songs represents a new chapter in her career. Proznick and her bandmates Webb, Kaldestad and Cahill began playing music together at Montreal’s McGill University in the 1990s. These musicians, along with Biali, helped Proznick craft an album that honestly and sensitively explores her experiences of motherhood, as well as the difficulties of her own mother’s struggle with dementia. Because Proznick had so many caretaking responsibilities for several years, she didn’t have a great deal of time to compose music. During those years, whenever inspiration struck, she would sing a melody into her cell phone. “[Musical ideas] were coming from my body, my voice, my words,” Proznick explained. “This whole album is not about showing what a good bass player I am or how clever. It is just about the heart.” The opening track, “Listen,” features a luminous, uplifting lyric collaboration with songwriter Shari Ulrich. The exquisitely emotional and cathartic “Let Go” was inspired by Proznick’s life: “One day, Mom was crying and kind of panicking, and I watched my dad put his hands on either side of her face, look her in the eye and just say, ‘Patty, I’m here. It’s OK; you are safe.’ That changed me forever.” Another collaborator on the album is poet, dancer and scholar Celeste Snowber, who co-wrote “Ancient Yearning” with Proznick. Inspired by Snowber’s lyrics, the bassist recalled, “I was imagining if Trane was to write a lyric, what would he write? That’s what I hear in A Love Supreme—that longing, that crying out.” “It was pretty remarkable,” Kaldestad said regarding the process of creating Sun Songs. “[Proznick] had such a clear inspiration for this project. The music is just something she had to do. It is powerful and so personal.” Proznick is planning to promote the album with a tour of intimate concerts. “Everyone has been through difficult times, and I am hoping people will feel their own stories in these songs and know they are not alone—because we are all in this together,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s about love.”

Kerilie McDowall (DownBeat)