It's arguable that Sweden produces more good jazz artists per capita than any other European country. At least it seems that way. And vocalists are no exception. Song stylist (and she is a stylist) Lina Nyberg follows in the footsteps and joins such notable vocalists as Monica Zetterlund, Jeanette Lindstrom, and the wonderful Nannie Porres. Nyberg cites Zetterlund and Porres as inspirations along with American singers Bessie Smith, Ray Charles, Jimmy Rushing and Nancy Wilson (whose influence is evident in Nyberg's delivery and phrasing). Over the last few years, Nyberg has grown to be considered one of Sweden's top ranking jazz singers and composers and this album does nothing to change that conclusion.
Nyberg has an affinity for using one word titles for her albums. Previous CDs were calledTemper,CloseandOpen. Her quintet album won the 1995 Swedish Grammy Award for Jazz. Now comes Smile with a program of eleven standards and one Beatles' tune. But the standards are delivered in a manner that is at the same time atypical and entertaining. Nyberg has her way with melodies as she modifies the accents and phrasing for each tune This stylistic approach is not just a mere affectation, but a legitimate and effective interpretation device which shows a close affinity for lyrics..and it works well. Her pronunciation of certain words is exaggerated, again for effect. She can be ardent as on "Smile". The usually mournfully sung "Good Morning Heartache" is done in a matter of fact way without any regret. The message is "that's the way it is right now, but it will be better". This tune also demonstrates the novel arrangements another feature of the album. Nyberg comes in with just Göran Klinghagen's guitar behind her, then Anders Persson's piano enters, followed again by guitar with Nyberg's voice playing the horn part. Unique arrangements and sounds are possible given the unusual instrumental configuration - - piano, guitar, bass and a cello with two violins!
Esbjorn Svensson has been Nyberg's regular pianist. But forSmileshe goes with Anders Persson with whom she has also built a solid musical relationship as shown on his backing on "Young and Foolish" where he matches (not drowns out) the passion in Nyberg's voice. The dark, cloudy sound of the cello contrasts with the clarity of Nyberg's voice on "Wild Is the Wind". Another nice feature is that Nyberg sings the verse of several of the tunes. But it is the feeling of story telling Nyberg conveys as she delivers the words. They're not treated as a bunch of letters and syllables, but as image creators to be transported to the minds of the listener. This album is like hearing a picture book. The sound on tis CD, by the way, is breathtaking. Recommended.
Personnel: Lina Nyberg - Vocals; Anders Persson - Piano; Palle Danielsson - Bass; G