Jazz Singer/Songwriters Part I: Louise Van Aarsen and Rebecka Larsdotter
Whether the music on Larsdotter's debut recording, Feathers and Concrete, is jazz is either open to question of completely beside the point. Larsdotter favors a relaxed version of soul-pop, not as R&B dominated as David Sanborn and not as adult contemporary (smooth) jazz as Sade. Feathers and Concrete stands at the edge of the same overproduction that has plagued so many contemporary jazz recordings, without ever stepping into it. It retains just enough that is organic to remain in the realm of improvised music. To illustrate, over the clever pop tones of the disc opener, "System Overload," has Zane Musa's probing reeds obbligato. Guitarist Charles Altura delivers a heady, slightly overdriven, Shawn Lane inspired solo that proceeds Ruslan Siroto electric piano solo. In the more traditional mode, sings an airy acoustic ballad in "Pearl of Glass." Pianist Vardan Ovsepian provides Bill Evans- David Benoit accompaniment and solo, while acoustic bassist JP Maramba gives a cerebrally-structured solo for a chorus. The lyrics are modern impressionistic, more scenes and snapshots than stories.
All songs are sung in English save for "Verlighten Ar En Drom" which would sound perfectly at home as a cabaret piece in the soundtrack of a futuristic drama. Dreamy and light, the piece rhythmically approximates a casual walk buoyed with an electric piano-acoustic bass combination. Feathers and Concrete is a debut deserving consideration because it represents a settling of an European approach to jazz music that attempts to more soundly bridge adult contemporary, popular and soul genres.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Lately; Save Your Love; Destiny; Dream of Love; Someone; Open End; Miss You Till I See You; Without You; Remember; Forever; Still The Same; All That We Can Be; Estelle; Sunrise.
Personnel: Louise Van Aarsen: vocals; Rebecca Parris: Vocals; Ted Davis: vocals; Doug Hammer: piano; Paul McWilliams: piano; Russell Hoffmann: piano and keyboards; Claudio Ragazzi: guitar; Peter Kontrimas: acoustic bass; Oscar Stagnaro: electric bass; Jim Lattini: drums; Mike Ringquist: percussion; Arnie Krakowski: saxophone; Mike Turk: harmonica; Eugene Friesen: cello; Rika Ikeda: violin; Maria Kowalski: violin; Echae Kang: violin; Drew Ricciardi: viola.
Feathers and Concrete
Tracks: System Overload; Wise One; Friday Sweep; Pearl of Glass; Verlighten Ar En Drom; Cracks; Strangers In The Garden; Waiting on the Wind; System Overload/Pimpys Brew.
Personnel: Rebecka Larsdotter: vocals; Ruslan Siroto: piano; Vardan Ovsepian: piano; Charles Altura: guitar; JP Maramba: acoustic bass; Hadrien Feraud: electric bass; Chris Coleman: drums; Tony Austin: drums; Nick Mancini: vibraphone; Zane Musa: saxophone.