Bergen Big Band with Karin Krog: Seagull (2006)
Norwegian singer Karin Krog is best known in more avant-garde settings, so this big band session of standards came as a surprise. The experience grew more and more pleasant as the music progressedKrog's conversational delivery is engaging and her obvious joy in the music is infectious. Approaching 70, Krog is as energetic and as thoughtful as ever; while her experimental work may be better, this new disc sports many fine arrangements, some convicted playing and a lot of fun. The Bergen Big Band is full of life, contributing too many fine solos to mention here.
Little prepared me, though, for "Angel Eyes, which rumbles into frantic action, only to subdue immediately into angst-ridden reflection. "Try to think that love's not aroundstill, it's uncomfortably near, Krog intones, even scarier than Patty Waters, to whom she owes a blatantly obvious debt. The arrangement is different than anything else on the disc, starkly individual and unnerving. Of course, it could be by none other than Don Ellis, and the ease with which he juxtaposes traditional harmonies and weird dissonances speaks to his mastery, British reedsman John Surman's excellent direction, and the fine musicianship of all involved.
While "Angel Eyes makes the disc for me, repeated listening reveals many great moments. There's something here for every jazz listener, and the fine playing and singing transcend any stylistic disunity caused by the diverse material.
Track Listing: Sweet Talker; La Calade; Lament; My Shining Hour; The Seagull; Northern Sun; Don't Get Around Much; Jubilee; Canto Mai; Don't Just Sing; Angel Eyes, You'd Better Love Me.
Personnel: Karin Krog: vocals; Bergen Big Band.