Strom to release debut album at Air House
Raised in a musical family and trained from an early age on classical piano, former Miss Kansas, Emily Strom, discovered her need to pursue jazz in college. Her debut release, Waltz in the Dark, is a 10 song exploration of an artist wedding those two influences and even borrowing from some rock bands that have inspired her along the way.
Gigging a lot locally with her many outfits — Annie Up, Emily Strom and the Lady Birds and also her all original jazz group, the Emily Strom Trio — Strom considers one of her greatest creative outputs to be composing a piece for and conducting the Wichita State University Jazz Arts big band at the Wichita Jazz Festival. All those experiences no doubt inform her within the near 60 minute disc that will be celebrated Sunday, Nov. 9, at the new Air House Venue.
Air House, originally started as a music academy, has grown to include a recording studio, a record label and now has a new location on the east side of town taking over the old Art Park building at 7230 E. 29th N. A big room with vaulted ceilings, Air House Venue, inspired by other unique venues like Fisch Haus, plans on hosting original musicians performing often, including an educational element as much as possible. Strom, a piano and voice instructor at Air House Music Academy is a great fit for the first show the venue is hosting.
Waltz in the Dark's production sounds like a movie soundtrack starring a nightclub singer donned in a gown, under low light and behind a shiny black grand piano. The main character is often contemplating romance. In songs such as "Of All the Boys," the character finds love realized and further supported in the following track, "Valentine's Day Sucked." The vibe is like a sequel to a romantic comedy where the couple is existing in the happily ever after, a story not often told. There are some more content-dense songs on Waltz in the Dark including "Help" followed by "Lost," a piece that opens in an odd meter and embraces darker melodies. And of course, as the title track would suggest, there are waltzes.
Waltz in the Dark is like sipping a fine cabernet but for your ears. Strom understands her palette and how best to utilize her talents. I'm more a fan of pungent, peated scotches and existential sci-fi films, and Waltz in the Dark is not for me. But her talent will win over many new fans.
With her experiences as Miss Kansas in 2008 and recently leaving a gig on television to focus on music, Strom is no stranger to the limelight. Boisterous and all smiles, Strom is looking forward to writing more new music, some of which will be on display including works written after Waltz in the Dark.
Celebrate with Emily, her band mates, Jordan Bollig and Kirk Russell with her brothers Abe and Ben Deaver also guest performing Sunday at 7 p.m. All ages.