From Die Hard to the architecture of Richard Neutra and R.M. Schindler, from Blade Runner to the fiction of James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler, and from fires, riots, and earthquakes to the lives of so many Americans who have looked to Southern California as a panacea, Gabriel Kahane's The Ambassador (Masterworks)draws its inspiration from a multitude of sources to tell intimate, human stories against the backdrop of Los Angeles architecture and popular culture. The album is available everywhere on June 3, 2014.
Kahane was born in Los Angeles but raised on the East Coast and in Northern California. He writes, "Starting in my late teens I began to spend more time in LA. I found myself chasing its soul- its aspiration, its spirit, its sadness- and wanted to express that. I've always had a preoccupation with buildings, and the relationships we form with them. So for this album, I made a list of street addresses that were interesting to me, and then began to explore different narrative approaches for each one: on the title track, I sing from the perspective of a doorman at the now-demolished Ambassador Hotel; in another, I take on the persona of James M. Cain's iconic protagonist, Mildred Pierce. On ‘Empire Liquor Mart,' I sing from the perspective of Latasha Harlins, a fifteen-year-old African-American girl shot to death in 1991, one year before the LA Riots. It is my hope that in this array of voices, something new about Los Angeles is expressed."
The album was co-produced by Kahane and long-time collaborators Casey Foubert (Sufjan Stevens), Matt Johnson (St. Vincent), and Rob Moose (Bon Iver), each of whom appeared on Gabriel's previous LP, the critically acclaimed Where are the Arms. Additionally, The Ambassador features guest vocal appearances by Shara Worden, Aoife O'Donovan, and Holcombe Waller.
About Gabriel Kahane: As a songwriter, Kahane has released two albums, most recently the critically acclaimed Where are the Arms, hailed by The New York Times for its "extravagant poise and emotional intelligence." The Times also adds that "Kahane, it seems clear, will be one of the artists nudging musical theater in new directions in the 21st century." Case in point, in 2012 he made his recital debut at Carnegie's Zankel Hall in a program devoted to his music. That year also saw the New York premiere of February House at the Public Theater, for which Kahane wrote the much lauded score. As a composer of concert works, Kahane has been commissioned by, among others, Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Equally at home in concert hall and club settings, Gabriel has performed or recorded with artists ranging from Sufjan Stevens, Rufus Wainwright, Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau, to Jeremy Denk, John Adams, and Audra McDonald, who has made Kahane's Craiglistlieder a part of her repertoire. A fellow of the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, Kahane makes his home in Brooklyn, NY.