Wright's collaboration with Craig Street continues on The Orchard. While her prior releases boasted contributions from some of the jazz world's most respected jazz players, The Orchard features an eclectic cast that includes noted singer/songwriter Toshi Reagon, who co-wrote several songs with Wright; Calexico members Joey Burns and John Convertino; avant-guitar hero Oren Bloedow; longtime Bob Dylan sideman Larry Campbell; Ollabelle member Glenn Patscha; and guest vocalists Catherine Russell and Marc Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius).
The Orchard's fluid, intimate performances reflect the unpretentious spirit in which the music was created. The project actually began with a set of photographs taken by Wright in her rural hometown, focusing on the orchard of the title, a setting that she's known since childhood.
That organic approach was maintained throughout the recording process, which took place at studios in upstate New York's Catskill mountains, in Tucson, Arizona and Brooklyn. The sessions emphasized spontaneity and chemistry.
That rare ability to exist within the musical moment is one of the qualities that make Lizz Wright a special artist and The Orchard a career milestone. "This record was a huge learning experience, in every way, and I think it showed me a lot about myself," she states. "I never would have imagined that I would have written some of the things I wrote on this record, or told some of these stories. But I felt really free and I really let myself go, and I surprised myself."