The Tip Toe Big Band and Elle Hansen: Big Smile (2002)
The bane of my existence — a potentially excellent big–band album with vocals on every track but two! Bad enough when the singer’s first language is English, even worse when, as in the case of Helle Hansen, it’s Danish. Okay, so she’s a pretty good singer, even if one may have a problem deciphering some of the lyrics; five of the compositions are hers, and “Stardust” they ain’t. Of the two instrumentals, director Jesper Riis’ “5” isn’t appreciably better — even with crisp solos by soprano Guy Moscoso, bassist Martin Spure and pianist Sten Møller — so the concert date’s highlight, by default, is John Fedchock’s luminous arrangement of the Matt Dennis / Earl Brent standard, “Angel Eyes” (featuring alto saxophonist Mads Haaber), an enlightening five–minute glance at what the album might have been. Getting back to Hansen, she has admirable range and power but her intonation is sometimes unsteady (for an example, try “Orange Colored Sky”). Hansen wrote “Big Smile,” “If You Were Mine,” “I Only Know,” “These Are the Fall Days” and “Careful My Heart,” none of which is better than average, and also emotes on the funky “Never Make Your Move Too Soon” and bluesy “Since I Fell for You.” The audience at Copenhagen’s Jazz House seem quite enraptured by Hansen and the Tip Toe Big Band; I wish I could validate their stamp of approval but I guess you had to be there.
Contact: Sale@coperecords.com. Web site, www.coperecords.com
Track Listing: Big Smile; If You Were Mine; I Only Know; These Are the Fall Days;
Personnel: Jesper Riis, director; Helle Hansen, vocals; Guy Moscoso, Finn Henriksen, Mads Haaber, Anders Medlin, Paul William Falck, reeds; Knud Schwaner, Finn Hansen, Leif Ipsen, John Kristensen, trombone; Lars Schuster, Thomas Buchreitz, Uffe Weppler, Jakob Holdensen, trumpet; Christoffer Sten M