Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Various Artists, Transmissions from Total Refreshment Centre, Blue Note ***

''Parker? There's them over here can play a few aces too'' - Joe Harriott An album dotted with less than essential rap and dub if more of the tracks were like 'Plight' there would be more to grip on to given that elsewhere there is little of the …

Published: 17 Feb 2023. Updated: 16 months.

trc

''Parker? There's them over here can play a few aces too'' - Joe Harriott

An album dotted with less than essential rap and dub if more of the tracks were like 'Plight' there would be more to grip on to given that elsewhere there is little of the same intensity. Part of an effort to mythologise Dalston's Total Refreshment Centre this groove record yokes together mostly easy going rhythmically appealing pieces lashed together by mid-tempo grooves that has Maisha's fine drummer Jake Long important in the sound. It's ironic that trumpeter Byron Wallen's contribution is often the most listenable within the ensemble given that he hails from an older generation that got far less attention than his younger colleagues especially Stateside back in his first flowering as a player of eminence in the 1990s. Think on Joe Harriott's gravestone epitaph about his own even worse neglect back in his day and apply it, say to the way the Grammys ignore UK jazz while firmly holding UK pop close to their bosom, ''Parker? There's them over here can play a few aces too''. It's not the greatest example of the strength here by a long way but certainly the fact Blue Note are putting it out shows a willingness to promote agenda setting aspects of the London scene in the US along with its even better Re-Imagined explorations. Out today

Tags:

Solveig Slettahjell, Guldlock, Jazzland ****

Let's face it, fellow jazz lovers and mavericks railing against the tedious norm - you are not going to find what you want obviously anywhere much in the mainstream. It won't be in the dumbed down regular ''music charts'', yeah, sarcasm in the …

Published: 16 Feb 2023. Updated: 16 months.

Next post

Let's face it, fellow jazz lovers and mavericks railing against the tedious norm - you are not going to find what you want obviously anywhere much in the mainstream.

It won't be in the dumbed down regular ''music charts'', yeah, sarcasm in the quote marks. Or playing at the place down the road where the booking party people in charge haven't a clue and should be playing the best but choose to put on the worst of all lowest common denominators to disguise their lack of knowledge at the expense of finding bums for banquettes and big up their pretence at being that most ephemeral of all things trendy instead.

The media you consume won't be bothered. But that doesn't meant it's not desirable. And you won't find satisfaction in the plastic Great American Songbookness of your favourite new twentysomething hopeful.

Because desirable is the name of the game here interpreting such delights as a song by Swedish pop singer Eva Dahlgren from the 1990s largely unknown to Anglophone audiences 'Guldlock' from the big selling Swedish album of the era En blekt blondins hjärta (translated as 'Heart of a bleached blonde') is a point of entry that works whether you know the song or typically tend not to immerse yourself in Scandinavian pop songs.

Slettahjell, who has mournful intensity to her mezzo knowingness, with the Slow Motion Orchestra 20 years ago was able to sing a jazz standard as convincingly as anyone then or now and certainly the singer ranks with the best European jazz singers of her generation (she is in her early-fifties) whether on her own projects or in collaboration with such titans of European jazz piano as fellow Norwegian Tord Gustavsen.

Slettahjell was last on our radar during Lockdown with Come in from the Rain an album that had a very different vintage flavour to it, something the singer does very well, chiming nicely in a Madeleine Peyroux type style.

On that Great American Songbook-dominated record she was with pianist Andreas Ulvo, bassist Trygve Waldemar Fiske and drummer Pål Hausken and the songs they interpreted included the Loewe/Lerner standard 'On The Street Where You Live' and Irving Berlin's 'How Deep Is The Ocean.'

On 'Gold Lock' the impenetrable lyrics from the Swedish depending on your interpretation deal with a protagonist looking for gold, not the flashy glittering type, or even literally gold at all - more about non-judgemental freedom, a freeing of the mind to transport oneself into another mutually supportive and loving community.

The arrangement of Slettahjell's version is different to Dahlgren's while retaining a deeply melancholic mood. So no solo soprano saxophone line (on the Dahlgren version it was saxist Jonas Knutsson) and a choice in this new version of a very still against offbeats sound to begin then a splash of cymbal and a dialogue with piano. And while the project will be of most interest to listeners from the Nordic countries the language barrier does not take away from the beauty of what we have heard by any means. The wider album includes music by Grieg, Lars Lillo-Stenberg and Allan Edwall plus songs by Slettahjell and her pianist Andreas Ulvo - excellent on last year's Mathias Eick album When We Leave. We'd be shocked if any jazz vocal album from Europe comes close to this in 2023. Yes singing in a language other than English is a barrier but this is beyond partisan linguistic preference totally non pareil in its pristine clarity. The way the piano accompaniment understands what's going on is a cut above the quotidien. Out tomorrow

Solveig Slettahjell, photo: press