Emilia Martensson will be best know to most contemporary jazz fans in this country from her guest appearances on Kairos 4tet’s two albums. The Swedish singer has studied in London and has developed a strong presence on that city’s live scene, often in the company of Barry Green.
Green is a busy man and as well as being a strong soloist he is something of a singer’s dream accompanist.
Take the opener here. It’s Jacques Brel’s If You Go Away, and Martensson chooses to do it virtually all a cappella, but the mere accents and brief grounding chords Green provides are expertly done and add just enough while taking nothing away from the cool power of the vocal.
Martensson has that lovely Scandinavian way of singing English – like Susanna Wallumrod, Rigmor Gustafsson, Solveig Slettahjell and Silje Nergaard – which is clear, unforced and with perfect diction, and with just a hint of an accent. She sings a familiar melody and lyric like the Brel or James Taylor’s Something In The Way She Moves nearly straight, relying on the most subtle of phrasing or a gentle melisma on some syllables to give it character and individuality.
She ranges wide in her choice of material, including Washing Of The Water by Peter Gabriel, the title tune by Billy Joel, and songs adapted from instrumental originals by Kenny Kirkland, Egberto Gismonti and Esbjorn Svensson.
There is also a lovely original song, I Won’t Regret, by the pair, based on Schumann’s Dichterliebe.
Green adds a nice solo interpretation of Paul Simon’s Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard, and there are guest contributions by Julian Siegel on bass clarinet, Ben Davis on cello and John Blease on drums.
A thoughtful and charming album with loads more riches to be revealed over repeated listening.
Categories: CD review