Helge Lien trio, 'Krystall,' Ozella ****

Drawn from Revisited to be released in March in come bassist Johannes Eick and drummer Knut Aalefjær for Frode Berge and Per Oddvar Johansen to join their fellow Norwegian pianist Helge Lien. Aalefjær however is no stranger to playing in Lien's …

Published: 1 Jan 2022. Updated: 7 months.

Drawn from Revisited to be released in March in come bassist Johannes Eick and drummer Knut Aalefjær for Frode Berge and Per Oddvar Johansen to join their fellow Norwegian pianist Helge Lien. Aalefjær however is no stranger to playing in Lien's trio and swaggers in at the beginning of the piece as if holding the cape for the pirouetting leader who treats us to a melodic somersault of light. Lien has a gift for melody and he also has a sweep to his improvisations that in the context of a trio find a natural home.

A substantial piece of more than 6 minutes that was even longer on the version heard on 10 released in 2019 its subtle new arrangement is enough to make the prospect of scratching this retrospective itch a formidable one. Check when the trio go very quiet and Lien etches a gospelly figure that sends the direction of the piece spooling off into a new space entirely. Eick, brother of internationally known trumpet star Mathias Eick, doesn't solo much but there is one naked passage halfway through the piece when he comes through very effectively. A great way then to usher in a new year of listening where the composer's skill as well as the improvisational and group-play nature of this collaboration conduct that fabled unicorn of a phenomenon – lightning in a bottle. Stephen Graham

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What are You Doing New Year's Eve? Frank Loesser listening and remembering Pee Wee Ellis

That's it from marlbank for 2021. All that's left to ask is 'What are You Doing New Year's Eve?' The Frank Loesser song was first recorded in 1947 by Kay Kyser and His Orchestra and later in the year by Margaret Whiting. Ella Fitzgerald from this …

Published: 31 Dec 2021. Updated: 7 months.

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That's it from marlbank for 2021. All that's left to ask is 'What are You Doing New Year's Eve?' The Frank Loesser song was first recorded in 1947 by Kay Kyser and His Orchestra and later in the year by Margaret Whiting. Ella Fitzgerald from this distance probably did the best-known version recording the song in 1960 followed by Nancy Wilson in 1963 as did Patti LaBelle the same year. Lena Horne, Lou Rawls riffing on 'Auld Lang Syne' in his very groovy, ultra swinging horn-soaked treatment and Johnny Mathis all followed in their footsteps before the end of the decade was through.

In more recent years Diana Krall did a wonderfully subtle treatment with the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra back in 2005 as did Clare Teal in 2013 with the late Pee Wee Ellis. Let's go with that last version, audio, top, in a very fine and mellow arrangement partly in memory of Pee Wee who died at the age of 80 back in September.

  • Clare Teal is performing with Ian Shaw (who also sees in the New Year at the Vortex tonight) in a great double act billing coming up in London's Pizza Express Jazz Club on 27 January

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