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Sinne Eeg & Thomas Fonnesbæk: Eeg-Fonnesbæk

Dan Bilawsky By

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Danish vocalist Sinne Eeg is basically an unknown to American jazz listeners, but she's considered a vocal treasure on the other side of the pond. Three of her seven previous albums—Waiting For Dawn (Cope Records, 2007), Don't Be So Blue (Red Dot Music/EMI, 2010), and Face The Music (Stunt Records/Sundance Music, 2014)—have taken home Danish Music Awards, she was the recipient of the 2014 Ben Webster Prize, and she was awarded the Prix du Jazz Vocal by the French Académie du Jazz for Face The Music. So why hasn't she made her mark in America? Probably for the same reasons that so many other talented non-Americans don't get their due here: a combination of jazz xenophobia, a lack of visibility, and distribution issues.

Fortunately, it looks like Eeg is starting to make inroads in America, due in no small part to Eeg-Fonnesbæk, an intimate and emotive duo recital that pairs Eeg with well-travelled bassist Thomas Fonnesbæk. Together, they walk, stroll, and saunter through many a familiar song. There's a wonderfully languid and steamy "Willow Weep For Me," a haunting "You Don't Know What Love Is," a scat-friendly "Summertime," and a nuanced take on "Body And Soul" here. And lest these two be accused of only covering well-trodden classics, they deliver an entrancing take on Enrico Pieranunzi's "Fellini's Waltz" (with Lorraine Feather-penned lyrics), a Diana Krall-ish vehicle called "Taking It Slow" that's credited to Fonnesbæk and Helle Hansen, and Lionel Hampton's "Evil Man Blues" (with lyrics from the late Leonard Feather).

Throughout the album, Eeg proves to be an expert in the art of inflection. She stresses a lyric in unexpected yet appropriate ways, demonstrates unerring intonation and pitch control, and shows herself to be an impressive improviser and communicator. Her vocals are never overbearing, but there's no doubt about the fact that she's in the driver's seat. Fonnesbæk, not surprisingly, proves to be a sympathetic ally. He delivers rock solid riffs and he manages to establish and trace the harmonic foundations of a song while dancing along with Eeg. His acoustic bass work is completely grounded, locking in the time and adding weight to the music, and his electric work, filled with chord-anchoring notes, harmonics, and guitar-esque strums, helps to give the music greater textural depth. These two make for a perfect pair, making Eeg-Fonnesbæk a fetching date worth seeking out.

Track Listing: Willow Weep; Taking It Slow; Evil Man Blues; You Don't Know What Love Is; Summertime; Body And Soul; Beautiful Love; Come Rain Or Shine; Fellini's Waltz

Personnel: Sinne Eeg: vocals; Thomas Fonnesbæk: acoustic bass, electric bass.

Title: Eeg-Fonnesbæk | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Stunt Records/Sundance Music

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