Releasing June 23, 2023 is “In Your Own Sweet Way” by Gaea Schell. Schell is a Canadian pianist, flautist, vocalist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. “In Your Own Sweet Way” is her third release.
The album consists of 11 songs. Eight of which are originals, and three that are considered “fresh takes on songs from the Great American Songbook.” Schell has been noted for being as “competent” as a vocalist as she is a composer and instrumentalist, by Jazzpolice.com.
“In Your Own Sweet Way” is proof of the aforementioned competency. With a minimalist style and an obvious passion for the music she creates, Schell stands out for the approaches she takes to jazz. The songs on the album are “jazz, ballads, and Brazilian-flavored” music.
About Gaea Schell
Schell comes from a family of modest means. That reality did not stop her family from encouraging her artistic pursuits. Schell’s father was a drummer, and her great-grandmother composed music for silent films.
A native of Alberta, Canada, Schell became interested in music when she was only five years old. She took to a hand-me-down piano with a few damaged keys. Her parents provided her opportunities to explore her interests in music, dance, and acting by allowing her to take lessons in each discipline.
As she grew older, Schell’s abilities in playing various instruments grew. By age 11, she began playing the harp, after learning the guitar and recorder. As a teenager, Schell played piano and harp in local malls during the holidays.
In college, Schell received a scholarship to study classical harp at the University of Victoria. However, her plans changed after she heard Charlie Parker on a recording. She switched her focus to study piano in the jazz program at McGill University in Montreal.
After college, Schell would call several locations home on the west coast of the US. First, she tried living in New York. When the climate became unsuitable, Schell headed for Southern California. She lived in San Diego, then Los Angeles before settling in San Francisco.
Schell is a person who does not settle down to simply be comfortable. She seems to travel to various locales to achieve specific aims: to swim in waterfalls, learn Spanish, and release sea turtles in San Luis Potosí; to study opera in Florence, Italy; earn a master’s degree in composition in Vermont.
Along the way, Schell earned a Chamber Music America grant. That award led her to Cuba. There, she worked with Benny Green and played with a group from an island in Western Cuba. In western Cuba, Schell had an additional opportunity to help with sea turtles.
She is joined on “In Your Own Sweet Way” by her quartet.
The sound of Gaea Schell: “Cava dell’Isola” and more
Words like “redolent” and “sprightly” come to mind when listening to any of Schell’s music. The first track on “In Your Own Sweet Way” is a beautiful song that invites quiet introspection alone, or with friends – – perhaps with a gourmet dinner and perfectly paired wine.
Whatever the occasion or setting, Schell does not disappoint. Her soundscapes are soothing. They evoke at once the natural world and cosmopolitan elegance. And then, on “Cava dell’Isola,” there is a surprise reference. The well-known motif of a War song appears, seems to go away, but no, only partly. Then, it comes back. The effect is fun in a song that could be completely serious.
When Schell sings, as she does on “In Your Sweet Way,” her voice reminds listeners of Chrissy Hynde of The Pretenders’ fame, just a little. The comparison serves to paint a picture, but Schell is her own artist.
On an album that is “inspired by nature and shaded with gentle Brazilian rhythms and classical hues,” Schell touches human hearts and reminds audiences of their connection with something larger outside of themselves.
For more information about Gaea Schell and her music, visit: http://gaeaschell.com.