Elisabeth Lohninger: The Only Way Out Is Up (2007)
This is an ambitious second album from Austrian-born, New York-based jazz vocalist Elisabeth Lohninger. With a background in both classical music and jazz, Lohninger sings fluently in three languages and, in addition to her 2004 debut album, has written original film scores as well as music for television. Her partnership with pianist Walter Fischbacher as the duo The Perfect Roomates is yet another venture for the singer. Finally, Lohninger is a familiar part of the downtown New York jazz scene and is now being recognized for her continued growth.
Lohninger possesses a rich alto voice that is surely her trademark as a significant jazz singer. While most of the tunes are originals, she also offers some interesting interpretations on three cover tunes. On the Tommy Wolf/Fran Landesman jazz standard, "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most," the pace is frenetic as opposed to the usual jazz ballad approach. While the tempo change isn't a problem, Mino Cinelu's percussion feels disruptive.
A second cover, borrowed from the Broadway musical The Wiz, is Charlie Smalls' rarely heard "Be A Lion." Steve Swallow's "Free To Fall" is given an original set of lyrics by Lohninger to match the song's setting and is quite effective.
Lohninger takes the musical initiative and runs with it sure-footedly and with assured vocalizing. "The Weather In New York City" is a sonic invitation to spend some time with her during the wintry weather there and the title tune conveys her philosophy quite appropriately. "Delirious Joy" strikes me as a clarion call to become a vocal jazz classic. Donny McCaslin's effective sax solos on the title track, "Swimming Upstream" and "Be A Lion" are additional assets.
Track Listing: Mirage; The Weather In New York City; The Only Way Out Is Up; Spring Can Really Hand You Up The Most; As The Tides Turn; Delirious Joy; Swimming Upstream; Be A Lion; Falling Grace; Free To Fall.
Personnel: Elisabeth Lohninger: vocals; Walter Fischbacher: piano, keyboards; Chris Tarry: bass; Hari Ganglberger: drums; Mino Cinelu: percussion (1, 3, 4, 7, 8); Donny McCaslin: saxophones (3, 7, 8).