Emilia Mårtensson: Ana (2014)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Jazz does indeed reside in one large house these days. Thanks to the world travels of Don Cherry and Randy Weston in the 1960s, the European free movement, The Latin voice, and the indelible mark of ECM Records, jazz has transmuted into folk music. It had to happen, what once was the province of the New Orleans bagnio and the metropolis spread to the rural peoples becoming global. Or, perhaps it was the countryside that has seeped into the city.
That intersection has fostered the Americana sounds in Bill Frisell's jazz and the Swedish folk in London- based vocalist Emilia Mårtensson's music. Is it jazz? Yes. Folk? Of course, but it is also pop and traditional song.
Ana follows And So It Goes . . . (Babel, 2012), co- led with pianist Barry Green. While the alt-pop influence is evident throughout, so too is the bond between singer and pianist. Like Tommy Flanagan and Ella Fitzgerald or Ralph Sharon's accompaniment of Tony Bennett, Green's touch piano is trusted counsel here.
Skillfully arranged with artful touches by The Fable String Quartet, the music is immediately enchanting, bewitching, and approachable. The title track, written for her Slovenian grandmother is a melancholy ballad of remembrance woven with a tinge of kinfolk sound. Mårtensson is a fan of 1970s pop covering, as she did on her previous disc, Paul Simon. Here it is "Everything Put Together Falls Apart" delivered in a spoken/sung bluesy manner not unlike that of Rickie Lee Jones with Green and Brazilain percussionist Adriano Adewale flavoring the blues with authentic spices.
Like all great singers her voice is neither pushed, nor distorted to broadcast her skills. Highlights here include her lyrics to Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus," reconfigured as a simple folk melody, an a capella sung traditional piece " Vackra Manniska," and the mini- masterpiece "Learnt From Love."
Track Listing: Harvest Moon; Ana; Learnt From Love; Tomorrow Can Wait; När Som Jag Var
Adertonde År; Black Narcisuss; Everything Put Together Falls Apart; Ana
Song; Vackra Manniska.
Personnel: Emilia Mårtensson: vocals; Barry Green: piano; Sam Lasserson: double
bass; Adriano Adewale:
percussion: The Fable String Quartet: Kit Massey: violin; Paloma Deike:
violin; Becky Hopkin:
viola; Natalie Rozario: cello.
Record Label: Babel Label