August 3, 2008

Arild Andersen - Hyperborean


(1997)
Arild Andersen's Hyperborean is based on an Ancient Greek legend: according to the myth, the Hyperboreans lived beyond the north winds, where the sun god Apollo presided. Andersen has created an impressive song cycle that draws from contemporary instrumental, European jazz, jazz-rock and the distinctive ECM production sound. Andersen's playing is typically tasteful and the compositions are unpredictable and evocative, making Hyperborean another worthy addition to his catalog. (Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide)
Link

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July 19, 2008

Eberhard Weber - Stages Of A Long Journey

(2007)
Stages Of A Long Journey is a crystal-clear recording of a 65th birthday concert held in his home town, Stuttgart. Guests such as Jan Garbarek and Marilyn Mazur play wonderfully, and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra flesh out famous Weber tunes such as The Colours of Chloe and Silent Feet. … A soundworld further enhanced by the vibes of Gary Burton. Yet Weber always leads from the bass, with a timbre that rings true in any context.
(John L Walters, The Guardian)

Part1 & Part2

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July 16, 2008

Kettel - Through Friendly Waters


(2005)
After the mesmerizing, acoustic Volleyed Iron on U-Cover last year, Kettel returns to electronics, this time with an organic theme. Some of this music is reminiscent of Plaid’s Not For Threes, but it’s even more beautifully melodic. From the bleeps, piccolo, and piano on the delicate masterpiece “Pinch of Peer” to the subdued cello on the title track, this is a fine, sumptuous album. Other highlights are the squelchy “Shinusob,” and the lo-fi “Purple Jacket Trot.” The CD ends with two cuts from a live performance: “Whom” and “Mwoeb” are both drawn-out and almost ambient. This is the first release on new Dutch label Sending Orbs. Kettel, interviewed here in 2003, is still one of my musicians to watch. His music shows continued growth and maturity, with plenty of pleasant surprises.(Gridface)
Link
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July 13, 2008

Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen

THE UNFORGETTABLE NHØP TRIO LIVE

(2007)
“This album includes the final recordings by the great bass virtuoso who forced America to revise its opinion about whether Europeans (and Scandinavians in particular) could swing ... They remind us of NHOP’s formidable ability, both as rhythm player and lyrical improviser.”
JAZZWISE, UK
Link

Line Up:
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen - bass
Ulf Wakenius - guitar
Jonas Johansen - drums

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July 11, 2008

Arvo Pärt - Tabula Rasa


This seminal disc now almost seems like the manifesto for a whole new strain of minimalism that has found an enormously receptive audience. It represented a breakthrough for Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, whose music--like that of his European colleagues John Tavener and Henryk Górecki--pursues an austerely beautiful simplicity that suggests spiritual illumination. Fratres, given here in two versions, one for piano and violin and the other for 12 cellos, repeatedly intones a sequence resembling chant to convey a sensibility that seems at once archaic and beyond time. Violinist Gidon Kremer, for whom Pärt wrote the exquisitely contemplative and hypnotic title work, grasps the music's koan-like idiom, allowing an inner fullness to resonate through the most fragile, ethereal wisps of tone against the mysterious clangings of prepared piano. The tolling of the tubular bells in Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten is an emotionally charged lament, based on a simple minor descending scale, that introduces Pärt's fascination with what he calls "tintinnabulation": the literal and metaphorical sound of ringing bells. This recording is also famous for the acoustically warm presence produced by ECM's Manfred Eicher, which magnificently captures the mystical simplicity of Pärt's sound world. (Thomas May)
Link

Gidon Kremer violin
Keith Jarrett piano
Staatsorchester Stuttgart
Dennis Russell Davies conductor
The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Tatjana Grindenko violin
Alfred Schnittke prepared piano
Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra
Saulius Sondeckis conductor

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June 23, 2008

Nguyên Lê - Three Trios


(1997)
Nguyên Lê is amazing. His guitar work is unique, inspiring, technically challenging, fired with soul, jazzy, rocking, and drips of fusion yet goes even further. You will hear world music (far-Eastern/Southeast Asian) scales and note treatments in attack, vibrato, and bends. Lê is of Vietnamese heritage but knows full well the world of jazz and rock.
He can play light-hearted, crystalline-clear tones, dreamy chordal sustains, wielding an endless barrage of effects and suddenly flat-out scream and wail like a banshee as if Ninja warriors had invaded the studio. I have never heard anything quite like him. I was deeply impressed first listen to this release. This is a guitarists’ guitarist kind of CD. Every jazz musician and fusion musician needs to hear this magic.
For references sake, I suppose you can hear echoes of Bill Frisell, Terje Rypdal, Steve Kahn( Blades era), Wayne Johnson, Kazumi Watanabe, and even Steve Tibbetts but . . . Lê is standing all alone in his total sound and delivery. My adored track was “La Parfum” for its simple elegance, beauty, and its power to transport me into bliss . . .
If you want the crunch go straight to his fiery boogie on “Straight No Chaser” and then sample the very fusiony “Dance of the Comet”. But really this is CD to be experienced in totality. You will discover sounds and feelings you will thrill to if you love great guitar-driven jazz. Highest of recommendations!!!
(
John W. Patterson"All about Jazz")
Part1 & Part2

Line Up:
Nguyên Lê - el. & electroacoustic guitars, guitar-synth and E-bow
Marc Johnson - acoustic bass
Peter Erskine - drums
Dieter Ilg - acoustic bass
Danny Gottlieb - drums
Renaud Garcia-Fons - acoustic bass
Mino Cinelu - drums, percussions
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June 19, 2008

Ali Farka Toure & Ry Cooder

Talking Timbuktu


(1994)
Talking Timbuktu is a groundbreaking record that vividly illustrates the Africa-Blues connection in real time. Ali Farka Toure, one of Mali's leading singer-guitarists, has a trance-like, bluesy style that, although deeply rooted in Malian tradition, bears astonishing similarity to that of John Lee Hooker or even Canned Heat. It's a mono-chordal vamp, with repetitive song lines cut with shards of blistering solo runs that shimmer like a desert mirage. Toure may be conversant with some blues artists, but it is unlikely that artists like Hooker or Robert Pete Williams ever heard these Malian roots, which makes the connection so uncanny. Ry Cooder, well versed in domestic and world guitar styles, is the perfect counterpoint in these extended songs/jams, his sinewy slide guitar intertwining with his partner's in a super world summit without barriers or borders.(Derek Rath)
Link

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June 16, 2008

Bonnie Raitt - Fundamental


(1998)
Bonnie Raitt's marvelous voice, saucy grooves, and singing slide guitar are this album's fundamentals. But these 11 love songs are more than a back-to-basics exercise. Coproducers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake help Raitt create the edgiest arrangements she's ever had. Which explains the dry, in-your-face vocal sound of "Round and Round" and the near-naked framing of the best guitar solos, like Los Lobos' David Hidalgo's probing Jimmie Vaughan masquerade on "Cure for Love." Raitt herself plays a rippling African-style melody line on "One Belief Away." And the jittery guitar break and pumping piano on "I Need Love" threaten to knock the tune's tonal center to pieces. Her lyrics are crafty, too, whether she's calling down the furies as she opts for another spin on the flaming "Spit of Love" or feeling romance tug like quicksand in "Cure for Love." A little weird, maybe, but commanding, wise, real, and beautiful. (Ted Drozdowski)
Link

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June 15, 2008

Eberhard Weber - Little Movements


(1980)
Recorded 1980. At the time Weber's Colours group was one of the most highly-acclaimed bands on the international touring circuit. Colours combined a sense of jazz history (personified by ex-Charles Mingus saxophonist Charlie Mariano) with an awareness of the pattern-pulses of the minimalist composers (emphasised in Weber's writing for Brüninghaus's synthesizers) and the energy of jazz-rock (drummer Marshall had played with Soft Machine and Jack Bruce).
Link

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June 12, 2008

Lars Danielsson & Leszek Mozdzer


PASODOBLE
(2007)
Veteran Swedish bassist/composer Lars Danielsson aligns with blossoming young Polish pianist Leszek Mozdzer for an affair that pronounces a sense of intimacy as an additional vehicle for vast expressionism. Glisteningly recorded at a Swedish studio, you can discern every detail and nuance throughout. Consisting of lovely melodies performed with a soft touch, the duo frequently engages in rapid unison choruses amid some movements that touch upon classical concerto elements. At times somber, the artists also generate peppery themes, often spiced with subtle overtones and flailing crescendos. As they integrate depth and finesse into these works spanning folk-drenched dirges, lullabies, and intricately resolved jazz motifs.
On the title track, Danielsson generates a soft rhythmic element by tapping his bass strings in support of Mozdzer�s buoyant voicings. And with the piece titled �It�s Easy With You,� Danielsson uses his cello as a sweetening agent for his partner�s nimble progressions. One of the highlights of this disc pertains to the musicians� ability to perform within, and maintain a level-playing field. The intuitiveness they generate along with the overriding aura of these works presents a colorific set of ideas and enactments. In sum, they seem to have attained a deep-rooted comprehension of each other�s traits and stylizations; not to mention a deeply focused mode of execution that offers a mark of distinction. Musical personalities contract, expand and become magnetized during the preponderance of this irrefutably satisfying endeavor.
(www.jazzreview.com)
Link
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June 9, 2008

Nublu Orchestra Conducted by Butch Morris

(2007)
A club, record label, band and movement all-in-one, the Nublu Orchestra is committed to developing and creating new sounds and music. The Lower East Side institution is comprised of talented musicians from jazz, funk, pop, fusion, Brazilian, R&B and classical genres, "but the music we make is none of these," comments Butch Morris, conductor of the Nublu Orchestra.
On the recently released self-titled album, Morris conducts band members from Wax Poetic, Love Trio, Kudu, Brazilian Girls and others, using signals of his own invention to relay real-time arrangements and compositions. The methodology unites musicians in their playing regardless of their technical, stylistic or cultural differences. The result is a free-form combination of avant-garde jazz, folk, funk and techno forming an improvisational hypnotic sound.
(coolhunting.com)
Link
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June 5, 2008

Jonas Hellborg - The Word

(1991)
A wild improviser, bassist Jonas Hellborg leans more toward rock than jazz. Drawing inspiration from Jimi Hendrix, Arabic music, and Lifetime, Hellborg began playing professionally in the mid-'80s. After some session work (including Pil's Album, Ginger Baker's Middle Passage and John McLaughlin), he released The Word on Axiom in 1991. The album features Hellborg's acoustic bass, drums and a string quartet. He remained highly prolific throughout the decade, recording most prominently for the Day Eight label.
(All Music Guide)
Link
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June 2, 2008

Renaud Garcia-Fons - Navigatore

(2001)
The most amazing double bass player of our times, Renaud Garcia-Fons is known for his overwhelming virtuosity, his Mediterranean melodic sense and his viola-like con-arco sound. A student of the legendary Syrian bassist François Rabbath, Garcia-Fons is not only influenced by jazz and classical music, but also by flamenco, new musette, tango, Bretonian, Andalusian, African, Latin American, Arabic and Indian traditions. His unique artistry led to many exciting and successful collaborations with other open-minded players like Rabih Abou-Khalil, Michael Riessler, Dhafer Youssef, Nguyên Lê, Gérard Marais, Pedro Soler and Michel Godard.In the tradition of his visionary album "Oriental Bass" of 1997, Garcia-Fons' joyful east-western synthesis comes to a climax on "Navigatore" that features 22 different players in a string of powerful original compositions. An epic and compelling ensemble music, "Navigatore" displays a wide spectrum of moods and grooves using even Spanish, Bretonian, Arabic and Indian instruments. Says Garcia-Fons: "Each composition tells a story - the story of a life, a round trip - somehow as if we would pass successively through several existences in time and place. In the sequence of these 12 compositions I have tried to evoke memories of imaginary lives which happened in the orient and the occident, yesterday and before yesterday. The double bass personifies a voice with different shadings - a voice of a being in transition.
Part1 & Part2

Chris Hayward flutes
Yves Favre trombone
Jean-Louis Matinier accordion
Kudsi Erguner ney
Karim Ziad gumbri
Rabah Khalfa derbouka, carcabas
Bruno Caillat tablas, dâf
Patrice Héral drums
Pierre Hamon bagpipes, recorder
Françoise Couvert violin
Franck Pichon violin
Bruno Sansalone clarinet
Laurent Malet fluegelhorn
Claire Antonini lute, târ, saz a. m.
Hakan Gungor kanoun
Dahmane Khalfa carcabas, tbel a. m.
Adel Shams El Dine rek
Jorge Trasante drums, bombo a. m.
Franck Tortiller marimba, gongs a.m.
Antonio Ruiz "Kiko" flamenco guitar
Philippe Couvert violin
Renaud Garcia-Fons 5-string bass

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May 28, 2008

Jon Balke - Statements


(2006)
This is international, border-crossing jazz in full effect. … Statements has a distinctly elemental tonality, a graphic sense of ancestral cry. Adding greatly to this is the vocal/recitation of Miki N’Doye, Sidsel Endresen and Solveig Slettahjel whose minimal musings on the closing ambient invocation “Unknown” are arresting to say the least." Kevin Le Gendre, Echoes"
Part1 & Part2

Frode Nymo: alto saxophone
Kenneth Ekornes :percussion
Harald Skullerud :percussion
Helge Andreas Norbakken: percussion
Ingar Zach :percussion
Jon Balke :keyboards, percussion, vocals, sound processing
Arve Henriksen :trumpet
Sidsel Endresen: text recitals in English
Miki N´Doye: text recital in Wolof
Solveig Slettahjell: vocals
Jocely Sete Camara Silva voice
Jennifer Myskja Balke :voice

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May 23, 2008

Kudsi Erguner -Islam Blues

(2001)
With Islam Blues the Ney (reed flute) virtuoso Kudsi Erguner has expanded the dimensions of the impressively successful Ottomania. It can be a new milestone in Erguner’s remarkable career. He has written film music for, among others, Martin Scorsese (together with Peter Gabriel) and Peter Brook, produced ballet music for the great choreographer Maurice Béjart and, in an acclaimed Salzburger Festspiele production, brought out the oriental influence in Mozart’s "The Abduction from the Seraglio". The son of Ney master Ulvi Erguner, Kudsi was born in Turkey in 1952. As musician, musicologist, teacher, author, and translator he has involved himself in the stimulation and revival of Turkish tradition, and again and again crossed musical borders with exciting results - which is natural for someone who has lived abroad (Paris) since his student days (from 1975 on).
In Islam Blues Sufism, the teachings of the wisdom and mysticism of Islam, plays an even greater roll than in Ottomania. Erguner has been involved in Sufism since his childhood. He visited Sufi brotherhoods and thus absorbed its teachings and music. By 1988 he had recorded Sufi music - "The Mystic Flutes of Sufi", a prelude to the dancing dervish ceremonies. This time the music is not only played - it is also sung; for Islam Blues two singers were added to the ensemble. Hymns of praise to the Prophet Mohammed, maxims, and love poems by authors from the time of the Prophet compose the literary texts of this album. Erguner leans on the practice of the "Zikr" rites: in these meetings the dervishes invoke the name of the Prophet while the music accentuates the ceremonially induced feelings of ecstasy. With his compositions Erguner translates the atmosphere of these ceremonies into the universal language of music, a music which remains very near to the source, and yet flows into the endless ocean of sound.
Besides Mark Nauseef, Erguner’s jazz guests this time are the great contra-bass artist Renaud Garcia-Fons and the exceptional guitarist Nguyen Lé. Lé is the son of Vietnamese parents and grew up in Paris. He is a masterful wanderer between disparate musical worlds. The Algerian multi-instrumentalist Karim Ziad, who took a "North-African trip through Paris" on his impressive CD Ifrika , takes over the drum part on the piece "Twins". There is a real symbiosis between the jazz musicians and the Turkish ensemble: while the immensely soft and tender sounding Turkish violin comfortably modulates almost like a jazz instrument, Nguyen Lé’s guitar and Renaud Garcia-Fons’ bass can almost pass as Oriental instruments. And Erguner’s flute, this story-telling reed flute - has long since been at home in both houses.
Line Up:
Kudsi Erguner - ney (reed flute)
Yunus Balcioglu - vocals
Halil Neciboglu - vocals
Bruno Caillat - double bass, percussion
Derya Turkan - kemençe (turkish violin)
Hakan Güngor - kanun (sitar)
Nguyên Lê - guitar
Renaud Garcia-Fons - doublebass
Mark Nauseef - drums
Karim Ziad - drums on track #7
Part1 & Part2
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May 19, 2008

Frode Haltli - Passing Images (2007)


Frode Haltli, acknowledged as one of the most outstanding accordion soloists in contemporary music, is also an exceptional improviser and an authority on folk music. His second ECM recording under his own name brings all of these aspects of his musical character together. Repertoire includes a psalm from the western fjords, a lyrical waltz from Haltli‘s home village near the Swedish border, a Roma traveller tune that suggests Albert Ayler‘s sound-world... With a supporting cast including Irish-Scottish classical viola player Garth Knox (ex-Arditti Quartet) as well as Norwegian partners composer/singer Maja Ratkje and trumpeter Arve Henriksen, Haltli offers a radical new look at music from traditional sources.
Link
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May 15, 2008

Michael Brook & U. Srinivas - Dream


(1995)
U. Srinivas earned early renown in his native India as a child prodigy musician, performing Carnatic ragas on an amplified mandolin. During Real World’s Recording Week, Srinivas first recorded an album of South Indian classical music, Rama Sreerama (released by Real World Records), which Michael Brook produced. Moving forward from the success of that recording, Brook and Srinivas embarked on a joint ambient project based on sketches previously recorded by Michael. The resulting album, Dream, led several years later to a concert involving Srinivas, Brook and an international cast of supporting musicians staged in Srinivas’ hometown of Madras.
Link
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May 11, 2008

Sinikka Langeland - Starflowers (2007)


“Starflowers” is a fascinating ECM debut for Norwegian vocalist and kantele player Sinikka Langeland. A folk singer from the forest lands near the Swedish border, Langeland explores in her work the relationship between man and nature. On this disc she sets verse of lumberjack-poet Hans Børli (1918-89), with help from an outstanding ensemble including trumpeter Arve Henriksen, saxophonist Trygve Seim, bassist Anders Jormin and percussionist Markku Ounaskari. Altogether: a marvellous confluence of folk music, sung poetry and Nordic improvisation brilliantly marshalled in Manfred Eicher’s production.
Part1 & Part2

Sinikka Langeland: vocal, kantele
Arve Henriksen: trumpet
Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophones
Anders Jormin: double-bass
Markku Ounaskari: percussion

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May 7, 2008

Ornament - Bleu


(2004)
Australian dance label Psy Harmonics occasionally takes welcome detours into the ambient zone. The debut album Bleu from Melbourne duo Ornament (Simon Polinski and Joe Creighton) is one such release and is an absolute gem. It's warm, spacious and alive, with fully-fleshed arrangements and seductive textures. Neither is it the sound of ambient-downtempo you might expect from a psy-trance label. It's less bleepy and synthetic and often less busy too. The mastering seems to have deliberately softened the top-end sounds, creating the aural perception of bigger spaces and more rounded surfaces rather than sharp, well-defined edges. In places there's a classical logic to the album's flow. Two pieces have their own separate "overtures" which give you a main theme before going on to a more extended development of the same idea. Highlights include "The Jesse Tree", a slow and sexy 4/4 rock jam with guitar soloing that's extended but restrained. "To Love Is To Laugh" is based around an oddly touching narrative sampled from a documentary about Eskimos. Best of all is the breathtaking choral-based piece "Yehuvaroom". Its looped, chiming melody establishes a powerful sense expectancy and mystery to which string sounds and other melody lines are added, all bathed in carefully timed choral swells of exquisite beauty.
Link
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May 3, 2008

Lars Danielsson

Mélange Bleu

(2006)
The gentle attraction of beauty
“Mélange Bleu” by bass player, cellist and composer Lars Danielsson - the art of subtly blended colours
Lars Danielsson ACT-debut “Libera me“ left no doubts about his creative versatility. And yet: the bass player, cellist and composer continues to surprise. His latest ACT-release “Mélange Bleu” shows up a completely new dimension to this musician with enormous potential. Danielsson has surrounded himself with partners like pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer und guitarist Eivind Aarset, all of them specialists for mood music that often develops in before a backdrop of ambient inspired sounds, samples and programmed beats. Danielsson takes the same route on this recording, but adds a very personal touch, blending the electronic parts subtly with acoustic instruments and orchestral arrangements. Each musical ingredient is quietly and subtly integrated into a thoughtful and carefully crafted composition, Danielsson’s “Mélange Bleu” develops a gentle attraction through its lyrical beauty and finely honed details
Link

Libera Me

(2004)
Line Up:
Lars Danielsson - acoustic bass, cello, piano, guitar
Jon Christensen - drums, percussion
Nils Petter Molvaer – trumpet
Xavier Desandre Navarre – percussion
David Liebman – soprano saxophone
Anders Kjellberg – cymbals
Jan Bang – samples
Carsten Dahl – piano
Tobias Sjögren - guitar
DR Danish Radio Concert Orchestra conducted by Frans Rasmussen
Part1 & Part2

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April 28, 2008

Ibrahim Maalouf - Diasporas (2007)


The origin and main influence of the trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf is found in the deep roots of Arabic music: improvisation. Bringing around him Blues, Arabic, Jazz and Electro musicians, Ibrahim Maalouf intend to play his own way the cultural , traditional territory where belongs his father’s invention: the quarter tone trumpet.
Link(Mp3@vbr"extreme")

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April 24, 2008

Nguyên Lê - Tales from Viêt-Nam


"For a long time, I had dreamt of a band mixing jazz musicians with Vietnamese traditional musicians, playing a music inspired by the songs my mother used to sing to me. Born in Paris from Vietnamese parents, I lost the Vietnames language when I began school. Only in Sept. 94 did I feel confident and experienced enough to begin "Tales of Viêt- Nam". It is a journey back into my childhood, a return to lost roots. But it also means the creation of an imaginary folklore that stems from a crossroads of contemporary influences".
Nguyên Lê

CHOC of the year 1996 (JAZZMAN)
Link

Line Up:
Nguyên Lê – el., ac. & fretless guitars, guitar-synth., programming
Huong Thanh – vocals
Hao Nhien – zither, dan bau, sao flute, sapek clappers
Paolo Fresu – trumpet, fluegelhorn
Simon Spang Hansen – saxophones, concert, bass & african flute
Michel Benita – acoustic bass
François Verly – percussions, marimba, keyboards, piano
Joël Allouche – drums
Steve Argüelles – drums, percussions
Trilok Gurtu – drums, percussions
Thai An – moon lute

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April 19, 2008

Brad Mehldau - Songs


(1998)
Art of the Trio Volume 3 was easily the finest rainy-day album of 1998. Moody, pensive, and hopelessly romantic, Brad Mehldau's fifth album as a leader staked out a deeply personal, strikingly handsome territory. Aided by sympathetic playing from bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy, Art of the Trio may not be the most exciting jazz album of the year, but it is certainly the most gorgeous. Mehldau's take on Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" is offered with as much feeling as his cover of Nick Drake's "River Man," and both show the range of his influences. (S. Duda)
Part1 & Part2
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April 10, 2008

David Sylvian - The Good Son vs The Only Daughter


(2004)
The latest release by David Sylvian is actually a collection of personally commissioned remixes of material from his critically acclaimed 2003 album Blemish. I usually have my suspicions when it comes to remix or tribute projects. It is a rare occasion when someone does a fair remix or reconstruction of a tune, thus taking it to territories beyond the confines of dance music. Despite my prejudices and doubts, this is truly a great album.
Surprisingly, what's most amazing about it is its cohesion. A group remix effort often comes across as dysfunctional material that is neither this nor that. For this particular task a group of innovative contributors was assembled, including Burnt Friedman, Yoshihiro Hanno, Ryoji Ikeda, Akira Rabelais, and Readymade FC, some of the most creative and globally respected individuals at the forefront of musical experimentation and sonic exploration.
The original Blemish was based on series of improvisations with guitars, vocals, and electronic sounds, but the immediacy of the situation, as well as the stripped arrangements, created a specific mood. The remixers went on rearranging the material, providing a beautiful tapsestry of sounds, bleeps, blops, hard edits, and distant drums. For the most part, the “form” of each track is established by seemingly random sound effects. Each remix is an accomplishment of its own, and these tapestries have proven great platforms for Sylvian’s voice, which sounds like Miles’ trumpet sound—warm and recognizable.
The opening track, “The Only Daughter,” which was remixed by Japanese minimalist artist Ryoji Ikeda, is reminiscent of Harold Budd’s work—a few naked piano chords or a simple but enchanting melody hovering in a spacious, haunting atmosphere. The two versions of “The Only Daughter” and “Blemish” (done by Ryoji Ikeda/Akira Rabelais and Jan Bang & Erik Honore/Burnt Friedman) do not hinder the album’s concept. To the contrary, these variations provide a rich landscape of sounds where the artificial and the natural bond seamlessly, which can also be said for the whole album. A personal favorite is “A Fire In The Forest,” remixed by Readymade FC, who adds a subtle pop flavor with his approach.
The Good Son Vs. The Only Daughter is a highly theme-oriented disc and a captivating excursion into synthesized organics. Beautifully packaged and designed (with artwork by Atsushi Fukui and design by Chris Bigg), it is a truly interesting work—just as good as Blemish, only different.
Link

Blog archive
David Sylvian-Blemish (2003)

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April 5, 2008

Esbjörn Svensson Trio - Tuesday Wonderland


(2006)
In the beginning it was Sweden, then Europe and now it’s the world. The rise and rise of EST has been remarkable in recent years – in the USA they were the first ever European jazz group to feature on the cover of Downbeat magazine, while their intro to Japan’s top promoter was on the recommendation of Keith Jarrett. If any one is in any doubt about how original, absorbing and dynamic this band is, then get Tuesday Wonderland, their tenth album.
From the étude-like opening (‘Fading Maid Preludium’) that explodes into post Hendrix power-chords to the focused beauty of ‘Where We Used To Live’, this remarkable group is one of the few bands on the current scene that can be truly called sui generis – for evidence of this try the shifting tone colours of the title track. What is even more remarkable is that Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier could inspire such a wide range of moods.(Jazzwise)
Link
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April 1, 2008

David Torn - Tripping Over God


(1995)
Guitarist David Torn has been exploring the terrain between rock, jazz and mutated world music ever since first hearing Jimi Hendrix. His sonic voyages start with a rock sound, but using innovative looping and audio processing, Torn quickly transcends the limitations of that form. In 1994, he was lauded as "Best Experimental Guitarist" by Guitar Player Magazine Reader's Poll. Torn's music spans genres and blurs borders. His soundscape performances reflect his interest in textures, soundscapes and atmospheres.
Part1 & Part2
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March 29, 2008

Terje Rypdal - Double Concerto / Fifth Symphony

(1998)
The Fifth Symphony is a work of considerable calm, often constructed using modal, polyphonic strands which become progressively more chromatic, and with some unexpected eruptions, recalling at times Kancheli or Vasks. There is a lushness to Rypdal's orchestral palette and harmonic vocabulary, however which suggests a somewhat Gallic orientation (the third movement even recalls Poulenc). The fourth movement, as with the Double Concerto, seems to me to be the heart of the matter, alternating a rhythmic bird-like, chattering polyphony with driving brass and thundering drums and, once more, a Kancheli-like calm with shattering explosions. Rypdal's voice is an individual one and he has much to say; he is, in addition, a superb orchestrator, and the Riga Festival Orchestra, whose clear, sharp sound is caught to perfection, does his music full justice. An extraordinary disc.
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March 22, 2008

Planète Sauvage - Planète Sauvage II (2008)


Few months after their first EP released in November 2007, Planète Sauvage is back with their second album and first LP , more melancholic and darker, more ambitious by its length, by the structure and the complexity of its compositions.Each piece is a story, a journey between mind-blowing atmospheres and lyricism, taking us into a visual universe, a world of cinema as the band claims it in their different tributes to movies directors such as Cronenberg, Wenders and Bertolucci.
Still under space-rock, jazz, ambient, even classical influences, in this album, much more than in the previous one, appears a real originality, generous, touching and stiring the sense of true individuality.
A rare album, highly recommended!

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Website: PlaneteSauvageSound

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Planète Sauvage (ep)

March 18, 2008

Tord Gustavsen - The Ground


(2005)
The group here features Harald Johnsen on bass and Norwegian chill-out group Supersilent’s remarkable drummer Jarle Vespestad. Again, too, the music has something of the Svensson trio’s knack for simple but haunting, hook-based themes delivered as a close three-way embrace, though at a lower dynamic level and in a more slowly evolving way. Gustavsen’s tunes sound like a mix of romantic-classical rhapsodies and very slow soul ballads given a little jazzy push whenever they risk getting becalmed. … Gustavsen may not play many notes but he does make them all count, and Vespestad’s patient, multi-textured drumming is hypnotic listening.
(John Fordham, The Guardian)
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Stereophile, Recording of the month Jazzreview, Editor’s Choice Le Monde de la musique, Choc du mois Jazzman, Choc du mois Fono Forum, Empfehlung des Monats Piano News, CDs des Doppelmonats Stereoplay, Die Audiophile Gramophone Korea, Editor’s Choice Bells Award for International Jazz Album of the Year (Australien)

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March 14, 2008

Ulf Wakenius - Forever You

(2004)
Now and again an album appears that, in its gentle simplicity and unassuming veracity, makes a strong impact as much by virtue of all the things it is not as by all the things it is. Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius, heard on this session solely on classical guitar, clearly has the knowledge and ability to produce an album that highlights his formidable technique and rich harmonic knowledge. Instead, however, he has chosen to release "Forever You" , an album that is characterized by a quiet grace and unadorned melodism. But it takes an artist with a broad musical vision and stylistic depth to make a recording this pure, this chaste. As such it stands out as an instant classic, an album that in all its subtlety is more emotionally profound and evocative than the plethora of recordings that may be more immediately impressive for their displays of technique, but are nowhere near as compelling.
Wakenius, whose clear understanding of the tradition has made him first call guitarist in recent years for pianist Oscar Peterson and the late bassist Ray Brown, is an artist who, while clearly rooted in that tradition, is no anachronism. His modern lyricism and clear playing style has also been found in collaboration with artists as diverse as saxophonist Michael Brecker, keyboardist/composer Jon Balke, percussionist Trilok Gurtu and guitarist Pat Metheny. Accompanied on this session by Swedish bassist/cellist/pianist Lars Danielsson and Danes Carsten Dahl on piano and Morten Lund on drums and percussion, the mood takes, as its starting point, the ambience of tunes like Metheny's classic “Farmer's Trust” and “Always and Forever,” the latter a piece that Wakenius covers beautifully.
The programme is a blend of originals, standards and lesser-known tunes, starting off with Danielsson's elegant and tranquil title track before moving into the more Argentinean-informed ”Buenos Aires.” “Arirang” is a Korean traditional tune with a naive theme that provides a relaxed backdrop for Dahl's gospel-inflected piano solo, bringing to mind Keith Jarrett in his early days. Wakenius treats “All the Things You Are” as a solo guitar piece, demonstrating that with taste and a modest yet sophisticated conception, a well-heeled standard such as this can be given new life.
And while the music is what one should come for, it is clear that the whole effort is a labour of love for Wakenius, right down to the aesthetic packaging and simple but exquisite booklet. In a time where the future of music distribution through digital downloading is being bantered about, it's encouraging to find artists who still feel that, while the music is ultimately paramount, the beauty of presentation is an important part of the art.
Wakenius' record may not impress those who need overt displays of technique or sharp edges in their music, but for a sense of musicianship at its purist, where the essence of the material is key and the truth of every note is supreme, Forever You is an essential recording and clearly one of the best of 2004.
(All about jazz)
Personnel: Ulf Wakenius: acoustic guitar
Carsten Dahl: acoustic piano
Lars Danielsson: acoustic bass, piano, cello
Morten Lund: drums, percussion.
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March 11, 2008

Robert Fripp "Soundscapes"


Robert Fripp (born 16 May 1946 in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England) is a guitarist, composer and a record producer, perhaps best known for being the guitarist for, and only constant member of, the progressive rock band King Crimson. His work, spanning five decades, encompasses a variety of musical styles. He is married to Toyah Willcox. Fripp was ranked 42nd on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" (published August 2003).
In the late 1970's, Robert Fripp worked with a technique termed Frippertronics, in solo performances featuring audio loops created with electric guitar and interconnected tape recorders.
Fripp returned to recording solo in 1994, using an updated version of the Frippertronics technique that employed digital technology instead of tapes to create loops. Fripp released a number of records that he called "Soundscapes," including 1999, Radiophonics, A Blessing of Tears, That Which Passes, November Suite, and The Gates of Paradise. (Pie Jesu consists of material compiled from A Blessing of Tears and The Gates of Paradise.) On the Soundscapes recordings, the inner workings of the music are not as clearly laid bare as they are on Let the Power Fall, perhaps due to the greater possibilities offered by the new technology.
Soundscapes:
Fripp states on the Disicpline Global Mobile web site that Soundscapes: "has the aim of finding ways in which intelligence and music, definition and discovery, courtesy and reciprocation may enter into the act of music for both musician and audience". Because Fripp has also stated that the intent is for active listening by the audience, it can be argued that Soundscapes may not be considered as a type of ambient music, as it is sometimes described. The performances are improvised; they can be quite loud, lengthy, dramatic, soothing, eerie, and possibly alarming. Because Soundscapes are often held as part of a rock concert, they can prove somewhat taxing on an unprepared audience.
Another common Fripp quote regarding Soundscapes is: "this remains the best way I know of making a lot of noise with one guitar".

At The End Of Time
Churchscapes Live in England and Estonia
(2007)

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The Gates Of Paradise
(1997)

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A Blessing Of Tears
(1995)



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March 7, 2008

Arve Henriksen


Born in 1968, Arve Henriksen studied at the Trondheim Conservatory from 1987-1991, and has worked as a freelance musician since 1989.
He has worked with many musicians familiar to ECM listeners, including Jon Balke (with whose Magnetic North Orchestra he has played extensively), Anders Jormin, Edward Vesala, Jon Christensen, Marilyn Mazur, Audun Kleive, Nils Petter Molvær, Misha Alperin, Arkady Shilkloper, Arild Andersen, Stian Carstensen, Dhafer Youssef, Hope Sanduval, the Cikada String Quartet, The Source and more. He has played in many different contexts, bands and projects, ranging from working with koto player Satsuki Odamura, to the rock band Motorpsycho via numerous free improvising groups with Ernst Reisiger, Sten Sandell, Peter Friis-Nilsen, Terje Isungset, Marc Ducret ,Karl Seglem et cetera. Today he is working with Supersilent, Christian Wallumrod Ensemble and Trygve Seim Ensemble.
He has composed music (commision) to Bale Jazz, Vossa Jazz, "My own private furry" (dance performance) and to "FRED" (theatre performance). He was «artist in residence» at Moers Jazzfestival 2006 and he has been a part of the European Jazz Launch project 2004-2006.
Arve says: "An interest in sound-making was there from the beginning of my work with the trumpet. I have spent many hours on developing a warm sound, for instance, but not only that. In my opinion, the trumpet has vast potential for tone and sound variations that we still have not heard. At one point, I think it was in 1988, Nils Petter Molvær lent me a cassette of shakuhachi flute playing. Then things changed."
Arve Henriksen began collecting recordings of Japanese music, with koto, biwa, shakuhachi and other instruments: "I let the music 'ring' and develop in my head. I was astonished by the sound of this flute..." The shakuhachi's roots in the tradition of Zen Buddhism fascinated the trumpeter, as did its "meditative and minimalistic expressive quality. "This has made me work with tone and sound making in a new direction.”
But his interest doesn’t stop with this. He has been inspired by all sorts of folk music, also the Norwegian. He is now interested to work with more contemporary and composed music. He has also spent time on electronics and different treatments on the trumpet. And during the last years has also been focusing on his singing.

DISCOGRAPHY
Strjon
(2007)











Arve Henriksen: trumpet, voice, keyboards and electronics
ståle storløkken: keyboards
helge sten: guitars and bow
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Chiaroscuro
(2004)











arve henriksen: trumpet, voice and electronics
jan bang: livesampling and samples
audun kleive: drums and percussion
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Sakuteiki
(2001)











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March 4, 2008

Harold Budd - The Pavilion of Dreams

(1978)
The 1978 recording debut from reformed avant-garde composer and eventual ambient forerunner Harold Budd consists of four chamber works (written between 1972 and 1975) that use varying combinations of harp, mallet instruments, piano, saxophone, and female or male vocals. Two years before his fateful first studio collaboration with Brian Eno (who produced this album), Budd was creating hypnotic music in an acoustic mode. All of the works herein--including "Two Rooms," whose latter half is an adaptation of John Coltrane's "After the Rain"--sustain a similarly dreamy vibe. An important credo for Budd was to make music as pretty as possible as an antidote to the noisy avant-garde he had escaped from. One cannot fault him for the lovely sounds he creates here, although fans familiar with his more cinematic works might be caught off-guard. Regardless, the pleasant Pavilion of Dreams provides insight into Budd's past, and it offers the same somniferous effect as a gentle lullaby, making it perfect for late-evening listening.(-Bryan Reesman)
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February 28, 2008

Huong Thanh & Nguyên Lê


Fragile Beauty
(2008)
Born in what was then Saigon, but resident in France for more than 20 years, Huong Thanh is one of the great female interpreters of traditional Vietnamese song, and an impressive composer. This is the fourth album on which she has collaborated with Nguyen Le, her guitarist, producer and engineer. It's another reminder of the duo's remarkable ability to mix ancient Asian themes and unexpected contemporary influence, all with an exhilarating, cool confidence. Huong Thanh's voice is clear and thoughtful, but still robust enough to match Nguyen Le's delicate and sensitive settings. As a rock and then jazz guitarist, he has played with the likes of Gil Evans and Ornette Coleman, but here his jazz influences are mixed with other global styles and sounds - from African talking drums to the Japanese koto, or from the Vietnamese zither to the muted trumpet work of Paolo Fresu or piano harmonies of Dominique Borker. Many of the songs start acoustic, but then the global experiments and jazz influences subtly begin to emerge, in what becomes an increasingly intriguing set.(Guardian)

Huong Thanh - vocals
Nguyên Lê - electric & acoustic guitar, synthesizer, computer
Mieko Miyazaki - koto
Hao Nhiên Pham - monocorde (dàn bau), 16-strings zither (dàn tranh), sao, meo bamboo flutes
Nguyên Van-Hong - backing vocals
Paolo Fresu - trumpet, fluegelhorn
Stéphane Guillaume - soprano sax, flutes
Renaud Garcia-Fons - pizz & arco acoustic 5-string bass
Etienne Mbappé - fretless bass
Alex Tran - percussions
Francis Lassus - percussions
Illya Amar - bamboo balafon (trung)
Dominique Borker - piano
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Dragonfly
(2001)

This is evocative world music, produced and performed on by the Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le. At times, though, it strays into his territory of western jazzy electronics and funk, infused with the sound effects and melodic associations of Vietnamese music. Huong Thanh is a vocalist rooted in the glottal manipulations, high, trilling sounds and soft mid-range intonations of the region's traditional techniques, and this is a project that imports her remarkable sound into a mix of contemporary global and indigenous contexts. Dix Raisons D'Aimer finds Huong gliding delicately through an undergrowth of Vietnamese flutes and zithers, before Nguyen's echoing samples and stealthily advancing tabla grooves modernise its atmosphere. The title track mingles the Vietnamese with the African, as Richard Bona's vocal chant intertwines with the leader's feline phrasing, and Ce Que Dit l'Oiseau, full of rustling percussion, finds Huong more mellow, sonorous and playful. Only marginally jazz-affiliated, but the textures are wonderful. Guardian - John Fordham Nov 2001
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February 22, 2008

Sickoakes - Seawards

(2006)
Having had a flawless string of releases last year, Type Records is beginning their 2006 schedule with a bang, quite literally. A project several years in the making, Swedish sextet Sickoakes� Seawards is a startling, lovely documentation of the place where Mercury Rev, Explosions in the Sky, and Henryk Gorecki meet, with plenty of their own flourishes in place. Opening with the brief overture �Driftwood�, the album reaches its first stride on �Taking the Stairs Instead of the Elevator�, whose panoramic guitar vistas loom over precise, minimal drums as the approach of a simply chilling brass section turns the song down an entirely different path evoking a muted, though triumphant melancholy. �Oceans On Hold� slowly expands into a desert from a single grain of sand, with weathered drum patterns and spiraling whirlwinds of ascending melodies, while �Wedding Rings & Bullets In The Same Golden Shrine� swallows half the album over the course of its two parts, intently developing through Stravinsky-esque string themes and endless layers of guitar. This is truly music that seems larger than life and, at the risk of sounding trite, somewhere close to heaven-sent. At least we won�t have to worry about finding a proper score for the day the world ends, though � Sickoakes have done a stellar job with it already, and you�d do well to have yourself a listen."Tom Meluch, ATMSPHR"

Sickoakes are:
Mats - Guitar
Simon - Guitar
David - Bass
Jonas - Saxophone
Jacob - Saxophone
Joel - Trumpets and Trombones
Erik - Drums
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February 18, 2008

Stefano Di Battista - Round About Roma


(2003)
Italian saxophonist Stefano Di Battista could spill a can of paint onto a canvas, only to find he has made a beautiful picture. In other words, every breath that passes through his horn is attractive.
His latest project Round About Roma creates an imaginary cinema score, with strings by the Symphonic Orchestra of Paris, that could have been a 1960s romantic film centered in Rome. Together with composer/arranger Vince Mendoza, Di Battista weaves jazz elements into these well-tempered tracks. Mendoza has created orchestral arrangements for jazz and pop music from John Scofield to Bjork. His most accomplished work being two discs for Joni Mitchell, including last years Travelogue with his string arrangements for Mitchell s re-interpretation of her beloved hits.
Two saxophonists, Art Pepper and Cannonball Adderley, have influenced Stefano di Battista s career. Both of these players incorporate an emotional approach in their playing. Where Pepper would reach for a clarinet, di Battista favors a soprano saxophone. His tone is more luscious than his two heroes, as is evident throughout this disc. Where the prior self-titled Stefano Di Battista (2000) with Elvin Jones and pianist Jackie Terrasson threatened to speak bebop throughout, this albums concept is pure amour. This isn t as much a jazz quartet with string accents as it is a small orchestra that includes piano/bass/drums/saxophone. Mendoza and Di Battista refrain from overlapping music, they intertwine and prudently have either the quartet or the strings drop out for an agreeable mix.
It is a stretch to call this jazz. Let s call it beautiful cinema orchestrations in the tradition of Nina Rota. If there is such a category, this is a near perfect album.

Personnel:
Stefano di Battista: Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone;
Eric Legnini: Piano;
Rosario Bonaccorco: Bass;
Andre Cecarrelli: Drums;
Vince Mendoza: Conductor, Arrangements;
Symphonic Orchestra of Radio France Les Archets De Paris.

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February 15, 2008

Brian Eno and Peter Schwalm

Drawn From Life



(2001)
The first album in four years (since 1997's 'The Drop') for Brian Eno finds the legendary musician/producer paired for the first time with German DJ/percussionist J. Peter Schwalm. Longtime Eno friend Laurie Anderson provides vocals on one song, although most of the thirteen tracks are atmospheric, soundtrack-like instrumentals (some with strings). Believe it or not, Eno will be performing live in support of the album, with at least one scheduled date (at the Fuji Rock Festival on 29 July 2001).
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February 11, 2008

John Surman & Trans4mation


Coruscating
(2000)
A new chapter opens in the work of one of Europe's most consistently adventurous musicians. "Coruscating" features finely crafted and richly-melodic music for strings by John Surman, with the composer and his long-time associate Chris Laurence deployed as primary soloists and improvisers. The music heard on "Coruscating" was, in live performance, one of the big successes of ECM's 30th Anniversary Festival in Brighton and was also hailed as one of the highlights of the Bath Festival. Reviewing the material, The Times of London compared its sonorities to the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten. Jazz, though, remains a crucial component of the material. Tracks such as "Stone Flower" reveal Surman's love of Duke Ellington. The piece is dedicated to the memory of Ellington's great baritone saxophone, Harry Carney, one of Surman's primary influences and a player to whom John has often been compared by the press.
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The Spaces In Between
(2007)

This is a total joy. If you thought Surman’s previous album Coruscating with this same line-up was good, this is even better. … The sound of the instruments and the way they combine is truly amazing. The throaty, guttural baritone finds an echo in the bass and cello and the soprano in the higher tones of the violins. The harmonies are fabulous, deep and rich, and evoke, for me at least, the English countryside through the seasons. As for the performances, they are quite perfect with Rita Manning’s solo violin on the title track an absolute highlight. This is simply the best record I’ve heard this year.
Duncan Heining, Jazzwise
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February 7, 2008

Solveig Slettahjell

Slow Motion Quintet
PIXIEDUST
(2006)
Cool Norway seems to be the most efficient hothouse for new talents in Europe in recent years. Vocalist Solveig Slettahjell is by no means a new talent, but only now is her third solo disc, with her Slow Motion Quintet, being distributed outside of Norway. Slettahjell was a student of renowned Norwegian vocalist Sidsel Endresen, with whom she collaborated recently in Jon Balke's Batagraf ensemble (Statements, ECM, 2005). She recorded with the experimental all-female vocal quartet Kvitretten, with jazz singers Eldbjørg Raknes, Kristin Asbjörnsen and Tone Åse, and teaches jazz singing at the Norwegian Academy of Music.
Her quintet members accompanied her through her two previous discs, Slow Motion Orchestra and Silver (Curling Legs, 2001 and 2004); the latter won the Spellemannspris, the Norwegian Grammy, in 2004. They are experienced players and leaders of their own ensembles. Pianist Morten Qvenild is a key member of In The Country, Shining and Susanah, and the Magical Orchestra, all outfits which released their music through Rune Grammofon. Bassist Mats Eilertsen leads his own quartet and is a member of the English-Norwegian quartet Food and percussionist Thomas Strønen’s Parish, as well as sax player Håkon Kornstad and pianist Håvard Wiik's trios. Trumpeter Sjur Miljeteig is a member of the popular electro-jazz outfit Jaga Jazzist. Drummer Per Oddvar Johansen has recorded with reed player and composer Trygve Seim, guitarist Jacob Young, pianist Christian Wallumrød, and even a quartet led by ECM's Rainbow studio master sound engineer, Jan Erik Kongshaug.
The maturity of the quintet's members and the restrained and subtle approach of Sletttahjell contribute to the success of this release. Slettahjell and her songwriter collaborator, Peder Kjellsby, collected eleven songs that deal with hope, faith, imagination and dreams. As Slettahjell sings in “Starpillow,” “to dream is to believe.”
The disc opens with a beautiful arrangement of the Emily Dickinson poem “Hope is the thing with feathers,” performed with a haunting autoharp intro by Qvenild, and it concludes with a leisurely electronic version of the Walt Disney classic “When You Wish Upon A Star,” done here as if Slettahjell is casting a promising spell upon her listeners. Of course, the pixiedust refers to the fairy in the Peter Pan story, Tinkerbelle, and that pixiedust, along with faith and trust, are the ingredients for the domestic fantasy that is drawn so beautifully in Slettahjell's lyrics on “Faith, trust and pixiedust.” Her cover of John Hiatt's “Have a Little Faith in Me” is no longer the desperate plea it was in Hiatt's original version, but a comforting promise. Her version of Billy Holiday's classic “Don't Explain” carries a more reconciling message than Holliday's own sober version.
Qvenild adds detailed electronic ornamentations that highlight the delicacy of the arrangements. Miljeteig's breathy tone, Johansen's caress of the cymbals, and Eilertsen's assured and economic playing, along with the fragile yet warm vocals of Slettahjell and her cohesive vision of Pixiedust, create a really magical listening experience. You may be convinced by her pledge that “anything your heart desires will come to you.”
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