Three more albums, these on the Inter Music label, by Denmark’s well–endowed Klüvers Big Band, on two of which ( Count on It, Live in Tivoli
) the ensemble chooses to hide its light under a bushel and play back–up to bluesy vocalists Carmen Bradford and Deborah Brown, respectively. On the third, Go Global,
recorded (apparently in a studio, as there is no audience response) during the ’99 World Culture Festival in Århus, the KBB once again assumes a supporting stance, this time in favor of the intractably enthusiastic nine–member intercontinental group whose name lends the album its title. As on the other two albums, alas, Go Global
features a number of vocalists who perform on seven of its ten tracks. The music derives from Latin America, Africa and even the UK (John Lennon’s “Imagine”). It’s staunchly rhythmic and percussive, sort of like the songs I remember hearing via short–wave radio years ago from Radio Havana. Unfortunately, the KBB is for the most part submersed beneath the music’s more boisterous aspects, lending weight to its subordinate posture — although, one must concede, the album would be much less dynamic without its presence. The brass in particular are indispensable on a number of selections, especially the buoyant “(Es) En Este Mundo,” “No Es Lo Mismo” and “Ka’Ne’Wu.” The instrumentals (“As Men Berians Do,” “Bolivian Skies,” “El Securi”) encompass intrepid solos by alto “Chappe” Jensen and Kurdish saz (that’s not a misprint) player Cengiz Cevik on “Berians,” flautist Eddy Montes de Oca and bass clarinetist Finn Henriksen on “Skies,” Montes de Orca and guitarist Søren Bo Addemos on “Securi.” Alto Niels Jacob Fils Kristensen burns rubber on “Ka’Ne’Wu.” “Go Global” and “Imagine” are pleasingly framed, provided one can endure their saccharine lyrics. A handsome slice of “world music” for those who appreciate it.
Carmen Bradford sang with the Count Basie Orchestra from 1984–90, hence the title of the album on which she appears. She is heard on nine of its twelve selections (all but Mercer Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” Harold Arlen / Yip Harburg’s “Over the Rainbow” and Bob Mintzer’s finger–snapping bossa, “Life with Thilo”). Bradford’s a first–rate songstress, make no mistake about that, with a clear yet sultry voice, excellent range and power, crisp enunciation and a keen ear for swing and the blues. Still, we’d rather hear the band, which is superb on its three numbers, unleashing enterprising soloists in guitarist Addemos and bassist Jens Jefsen on “Things,” alto Jens Søndergaard on “Rainbow,” trombonist Knud Schwaner, alto Jensen, drummer Morten Lund and percussionist Steen Råhauge on “Thilo.” Those given blowing room on the vocal tracks include Addemos, Søndergaard, tenor Lars Møller and trumpeters Kurt Holm and Henrik Hou Jørgensen. Bradford’s material is quite well–known; she sounds best (to me) on the up-tempo numbers — “Rough Ridin’,” “All of Me,” “Them There Eyes” — and the lovely ballad “Young and Foolish” (the last beautifully scored by ex–Basie sideman and leader Frank Foster). An above–average concert session that could have been even better with a few less vocals.
Much the same can be said of Live in Tivoli, also recorded in concert and showcasing Deborah Brown’s sunny vocals on each of its eleven tracks. Besides singing, Brown wrote the lyrics to four of the songs (“After Perturbation,” “Atonal,” “Make Up Your Mind,” “Always and Forever”). The voice is lighter and sunnier than Bradford’s, but similarly on–key and swinging, the diction letter–perfect as well. The material is less familiar, opening with Sweets Edison’s “Centerpiece” (also known as “Until I Met You”) and including Nat Cole’s “Errand Girl,” Bob Dorough’s “Never a Care,” Johnny Griffin’s “Make Up Your Mind” and second–tier standards “Don’t Go To Strangers” and “I Love Being Here with You” in addition to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things.” Brown gives each of them an elegant ride while the KBB is exemplary in its supporting role (with Jefsen, Addemos, Møller, Jørgensen, alto Marc Bernstein and pianist Lisbeth Iversen contributing impressive solos). Another treasure for those who admire topnotch big–band singers.
Contact:Klüvers Big Band, Karetmagergaarden, Graven 25, Denmark 80000. Phone +45 86 20 16 88; e–mail firstname.lastname@example.org; web site, www.cdjazz.com