With 'The Ice Siren,' John Ellis and Andy Bragen Deliver A Dark Fairy Tale with a Comic Twist

Mar 25, 2020

We are living in unsettling times, and we’re probably due for a little humor. Last Friday, reedman and composer John Ellis released his own horror story wrapped in comedy: The Ice Siren, a beautiful chamber-jazz project written for a double quartet.

Call it a modern jazz opera, a score intended for an animated film, or music for a future puppet show. Right now, in its unconventional splendor, it’s some pretty damn gorgeous music set to a beguiling libretto by playwright Andy Bragen. Think of it as a dark fairy tale, with two main characters wryly performed by a pair of commanding singers, Gretchen Parlato and Miles Griffith.

The Ice Siren album artwork
Credit Courtesy of artist

Weeks ago, Ellis and Bragen convened in Manhattan to talk about their collaborative work, originally commissioned by The Jazz Gallery in 2009. Our conversation kicked off a new series, “The Checkout at The Jazz Gallery,” which has unfortunately been postponed until further notice. Throughout this onstage interview, you’ll hear excerpts of the commercial release of The Ice Siren. If you like the music, I’d encourage everyone to go to Bandcamp right now to support these awesome artists in these difficult times.

Side note: The Jazz Gallery is currently helping musicians by hosting a series of “Zoom Hangs” with some of their marquee artists. Online slots to engage with bassist Ben Williams and saxophonist Melissa Aldana are sold out, but tickets are still available to virtually mingle with Aaron Parks, Kris Davis, Becca Stevens and others.

Conversation recorded by Edward Gavitt.

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