Saturday, June 2, 2018

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month - "Elisabeth Melander: Reflections Of A Voice"

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month
Elisabeth Melander: "Reflections Of A Voice" (Prophone PCD164)
Rating: ***** (music performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Elisabeth Melander & Anders Hallbäck
Mastering: Ray Staff @ AIR Studios (London)
Photo: Christian Nordström
Design: Leon Hamnede

Featuring: Elisabeth Melander (vocals), Hakan Rydin (piano), Lars Danielsson (bass), Terje Sundby (drums & percussion), Göran Klinghagen (guitar), Anders Bergcrantz (trumpet), Inge Petersson (tenor sax) + Anna Blomkvist Grane, Mirja Bjuhr, Katarina Hverén, Karolina Weber Ekdahl (string quartet). Sten Ingelf (horn arrangement on "The Voice Inside" and string arr. on "A Song Of Joy")

One of Sweden’s great jazz voices is back along with some of the country’s top musicians. A soulful unique voice, warmth and emotions characterize this mix of original compositions and exciting interpretations of music by Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Blossom Dearie, and George Gershwin. The album has reached more than 1,5 million streams on Spotify.

We not only meet a singer with her backup, here is a complete jazz group where the voice also is an important instrument. Elisabeth’s soulfulness, her warm expression and feeling together exceptional improvisational skills characterises the group JazzAppear - musicality, spontaniety, collaboration and joy … altogether in one.

Elisabeth Melander writes of this project: “There was no real time for rehearsals so my intention from the beginning was to try to create a diverse, dynamic and harmonious atmosphere where the spur of the moment, playfulness and improvisation would bring the music forward. I wanted to create a “here and now” feeling together with musician friends, who I knew would put their own stamps on the songs…The warmth I feel for these great musicians and friends who gild each song is pure magic.”

"Right from the start it was a wild and daring project. Recorded over three days with top musicians from different parts in Sweden plus the very best Håkan Rydin, close friend and a great pianist. There was no real time for rehearsals so my intention from the beginning was to try to create a diverse, dynamic and harmonious atmosphere where the spur of the moment, playfulness and improvisation would bring the music forward. I wanted to create a ”hear and now” feeling together with musician friends, who I knew would putter own stamps on the songs. It would simply be a room for a bit of mischief and spontaneity. The warmth I feel for these extraordinary musicians and friends who gild each song is pure magic."

"The selections of songs can be likened to an armful of different colored flowers together in a bouquet of sound, tone and words - a mix of my own compositions, standards and other well chosen songs. My voice is my instrument, and as a singer, I have always been open and curious about expressing myself in different genres and styles. With this recording I wanted to challenge myself in different ways, which I think reflect my vocal expression. Therefore the title of the album comes natural".

Elisabeth Melander is a beautiful creative artist spiced with wisdom and a lot of feeling. In her stage presence there is an ease and joy of life, a seriousness and a splash of sadness which grabs and involve her audience.

She was born and raised in Boden, way up north in Sweden, where the home was filled with music and dance. "Playing gramophone, dancing, singing and spinning around, that's fun," wrote Elisabeth's mother in the family album. And the image of the three-year-old actor accustomed to the radiogram is really a sense of how her life as an artist would be.

Her first school years were filled with singing and theatre. She played the recorder, violin and guitar at the municipal music school and joined the string orchestra. Went to dance school and performed here and there. Then after three years classical music studies she continued to the Swedish Academy of Music in Gothenburg where she received her educational degree in classical singing and ensemble. In addition Elisabeth continued her individual musician education with improvisational focus, art music, jazz, composition and rhythm. In 1985 she was called to the Academy of Music in Malmö to establish Sweden’s first education of singing song modern genres ... jazz and rock.

Elisabeth is incredibly curious and strives continuously for her own development. "I think that's why I tried many different genres, songs and instruments."

”My interest for lyrics come both from mom and my grandfather. He was a master of making song ”come alive”. Mom, on the other hand, inspired me to find out what the lyrics were about, making me write poems and small verses. "

If Ella Fitzgerald, Sara Vaughan, Carmen Mc Rae, Monica Zetterlund, Astrud Gilberto, Barbra Streisand, early on were her female role models, the male were Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Chet Baker.

"Pretty soon I got stuck in the 60s and 70s," says Elisabeth. A whole new world with many more genres opened up with artists like Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Quincy Jones, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears. Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton, Keith Jarrett, Weather Report, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Al Jarreau and others.”

During her extensive career, Elisabeth has, in addition produced a lot of own concert projects. She has done several recordings, radio and television appearances, and also run her own groups - EMB (Elisabeth Melander Band), Jazzmine, JazzAppear, The Boys And Her Voice, Melander-Bergcrantz Quintet, Elisabeth Melander Trio, and alos member of the groups Lifeline, Mopele, Cosmic Agogo, Nandu, Milfield Band, Jazzsounds Unplugged.

Elisabeth was also engaged as a singer and actor at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm for Ingmar Bergman’s production of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. The production toured six month playing at many of the national theatres in Europe.

Fantastic musicians that Elisabeth has collaborated with:
Norrbotten Big Band, Ystad Big Band - Monday Night Big Band - Växjö Big Band - Hudiksvall Big Band - Mikael Rådberg Jazz Orchestra - Anders Berglund Big Band plus jazz collaborations with Jan Allan - Anders Bergcrantz - Nils Landgren - Lars Danielsson - Anders Jormin - Joakim Milder - Håkan Broström - Bosse Broberg - Lars Jansson - Helge Albin - Håkan Rydin - Jan Lundgren - Jakob Karlzon - Inge Petersson-Lindbäck - Palle Danielsson - Red Mitchell - Claes Crona - Göran Klinghagen - Bengt-Arne Wallin - Kjell Öhman - Ulf Adaker - Ulf Andersson - Terje Sundby - Lars Beijbom - Christian Speering - Hans Andersson - Yasuhito Mori - Anders Hagberg - Vincent Nilsson - Lasse Lundström - Göran Schelin - Johan Norberg - Mikael Råberg - Steve Dobrogosz - Lasse Bagge - Peter Gullin - Backa-Hans Eriksson - Johan Hörlén - Ulf Johansson - Anders Kjellberg - Rasmus Kihlberg - Lars Lindgren - Anders Persson - Gösta Rundqvist - Gunnar "Helmer Bryd" Svensson - Gunnar "Siljabloo" Nilss On - Petur "Island" Östlund and many many more.

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