Ashley Daneman is a singer who combines “a literary sensibility with a driving experimental jazz style where the heart of the song can find itself anywhere and always in a personal intimate space” (Marlbank). Her new release, People Are Fragile (Flood Music, Chicago), feels very exposed and intimate, like a deep, late-night conversation between old friends who don’t spare each other’s feelings. It features Rob Clearfield and Rufus Ferguson on piano, Wurlitzer, and organ; Matt Gold on guitar and lap steel; Andrew Vogt on electric bass; Makaya McCraven and Quinlan Kirchner on drums; and Kevin Bujo Jones on percussion.
Daneman honed her craft in Washington, DC, New York City, and by touring in the U.S. She earned her master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music under the guidance of Peter Eldridge, Kate McGarry, and Theo Bleckman. Daneman was also a resident artist at The Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter’s JazzAhead and The Banff Centre’s Jazz and Creative Workshop in Canada.
People Are Fragile follows her 2015 critically acclaimed album Beauty Indestructible, selected as Editor’s Pick at DownBeat Magazine. “Beautiful jazz art music from a gorgeous voice with superb accompaniment,” says Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange, and Richard Kamins (Step Tempest) called it, “a profound work of art that is so alive, so positive, and so blessedly musical.”
Ashley lives with her husband, trumpeter Benje Daneman, in Kalamazoo, MI.
Press for PEOPLE ARE FRAGILE
FOR FANS OF: Singer-songwriters with jazz and folk influences (Becca Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Gretchen Parlato)
“Michigan-based “jazz-folk” singer Ashley Daneman has found an intriguing balance between the soaring virtuosity of Joni Mitchell and the earthy Americana of Becca Stevens. In a nutshell, the material and arrangements incline toward the latter, Daneman’s vocal performance toward the former.” [3 1/2 stars] - Michael West, Downbeat Magazine
“THIS IS SUPERB... keep an eye out for People Are Fragile, singer-songwriter Ashley Daneman combines a literary sensibility with a driving experimental jazz style where the heart of the song can find itself anywhere and always in a personal intimate space backed by a band with an open improvising set of skills who take it there. Among the personnel the album, which contains both originals and spirituals (a beautiful version of 'Deep River’ for instance), features break-out drummer Makaya McCraven but above all Daneman’s voice conjures vast complex territory that embraces Joni Mitchell to Gretchen Parlato and far beyond with a soulful, powerful sense of truth hardbedded into it.” - Marlbank
“Possessing a singer-songwriter's sense of focus, a forward-thinking jazz singer's thrill for the unknown, and a perceptive gaze that penetrates the hardest of topic surfaces, she turns songs into fellowships connecting artist and listener.” [4 stars] - Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
Ashley Daneman Band performs at Bell's in Kalamazoo, MI:
Photos by Derek Ketchum.
Listen to People Are Fragile:
Michigan non-profit arts presenters may apply for grants that cover up to 40% of Ashley’s touring/presenting expenses. More information here: https://www.michiganhumanities.org/touring-grants/
View Ashley’s profile in the touring directory: https://touring.michiganhumanities.org/project/ashley-daneman/
Past and Upcoming Dates:
Official Press Release:
Ashley Daneman Sings About Pain, Recovery, Rebirth On Bold New Album People Are Fragile
Kintsugi is the Japanese craft of repairing a broken object with gold, thus making it stronger. The hallmark of kintsugi is that the repairs are visible. The beauty of the reborn object derives from the patterns of its fractures, rather than from an effort to hide them. On People Are Fragile, singer-songwriter Ashley Daneman offers up her pain and healing in ways both visible and audible, inviting the listener to celebrate what humans can become even after they’ve broken.
“I’ve had a lot of grief and loss over the past few years,” Daneman said, “and I was very in touch with my fragility. My previous album, Beauty Indestructible, was about surviving and being strong. I realized that, to heal even further, I had to become vulnerable again.”
People Are Fragile, released on the artist-owned Flood Music label, features eight original compositions, two spirituals with pianist Rufus Ferguson, and one song from Gershwin’s Porgy And Bess. The entire album feels very exposed and intimate, like a deep, late-night conversation between old friends who don’t spare each other’s feelings.
“When a glass breaks in your kitchen it breaks everywhere,” Daneman said. “Some pieces are easy to pick up and put in the trash. The other pieces are fine and needle-like and around for years and years. This album is what my life is like, and I offer it up in solidarity with anyone else who feels the same.”
People Are Fragile was recorded primarily in Chicago by a stellar band made up of pianist Rob Clearfield (Fareed Haque, Grazyna Auguscik); bassist Andrew Vogt (Ernie Watts); drummers Quinlan Kirchner (Wild Belle) and Makaya McCraven (Bobby Broom, Marquis Hill); and guitarist and lap steel player Matt Gold (Sun Speak, Storm Jameson; Gold is also one of the owners of Flood Music). Also appearing are Ferguson and percussionist Bujo Kevin Jones (Whitney Houston, The Isley Brothers). Takes were recorded live, with all musicians in one room and no punched in corrections.
“I just wanted to make something honest, and I think that was a really good place to be,” Daneman said. “I was very influenced by two albums: Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, in terms of the role of the bass and pedal steel and the songwriting; and also Laura Mvula’s album Sing To The Moon, which is one of those albums that when you hear it, you feel it was made just for you and you want to absorb every piece of it. She has a lot of layering and vocal harmonies and that really spoke to me as well.”
Much of Daneman’s previous work has incorporated explicit or implicit references to her religious faith, and at first listen People Are Fragile seems to as well. Like much in her life, however, Daneman’s faith has undergone a transformation:
“I’ve shifted much more faith into myself and into my own power, versus a religious map. I wouldn’t say that I’ve lost any of my spirituality, but I’ve shifted where my faith lies and what I’m emphasizing. There was a period of reckoning where I questioned my tidy view of how things are.”
People Are Fragile is anything but tidy. Like the Japanese craft that inspired its cover image, it’s an album of shining beauty made from the real fault lines of life. It’s a mature, honest and fearless record, and it signals the next big step in the musical career of Ashley Daneman.