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Elisabeth Lohninger: Eleven Promises

C. Michael Bailey By

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New York-based Elisabeth Lohninger and Walter Fischbacher have evolved into a solid power-center in the city's jazz community. They operated Lofish Recording Studios until 2015, when gentrification forced them to close door. The pair have been prolific with recordings, including: Beneath the Surface (Lofish, 2004); The Only Way Out is Up (Lofish, 2007); Songs of Love and Destruction (Lofish, 2010); Christmas in July (Lofish, 2011), Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet: Live (Lofish, 2012), and the most recent and intimate Elisabeth Lohninger & Walter Fischbacher: Ballads in Blue (Jazz Sick Records, 2015).

What is evident from this decade of releases is that the Lohninger/Fischbacher jazz diptych has impressive depth and breadth. The two push their boundaries further with the airy and ethereal Eleven Promises where Lohninger's solidly established alto is allow free reign in an adult contemporary vocals environment. Lushly orchestrated with strings scored by Fischbacher, Eleven Promises approaches a post-modern ideal that had its genesis in the performance style of Sade Adu and Anita Baker. Lohninger enhances this vocals vector with a creatively dense overlay of her and Fischbacher's informed compositional skills. Smart and engaging, the 11 original compositions, lay out a comprehensive vision of singing that goes well beyond simple genre definitions and expectations.

This single standard, frightfully enough is well-trodden "The Girl from Ipanema." Like "My Funny Valentine," "The Girl from Ipanema" and other songs like them, experience a certain interpretive tachyphylaxis that manifests as a resistance to renewal and revelation, even in the hands of exceptional artists. In short, when one chooses to interpret a war-torn standard today, he or she should "go big, or go home." Thankfully, Lohninger is up to the challenge, creating a "Girl from Ipanema" as starkly angular and challenging as Laurie Antonioli's "My Funny Valentine" from her darkly beautiful recording Varuna (Origin Records, 2015). Lohninger brings the post-modern spirit with which she caressed this chestnut to the remainder of the recording, joining synergistically with Fischbacher and his intelligently navigated transitions from acoustic ("Take My Picture While I'm Smiling") to electric piano ("Ipanema" and "Mellow Moon Moaning") and stylistically from All American ("Take My Picture") and humidly Latin ("Ya Mi Corazon"). Splendid!

Track Listing: When We Were Young; The Girl from Ipanema; Take My Picture While I am Smiling; Eleven Promises; Birthday Girl; And If; Mellow Moon Moaning; Each Time You Leave; Hold On; Merry Go Round; Circles; Ya Mi Corazon.

Personnel: Elisabeth Lohninger: vocals; Walter Fischbacher: keyboards, string arrangements; Goran Vujic: bass; Ulf Stricker: drums; Ben Butler: guitar (5, 9); Pete McCann: guitar (1, 3); Gary Schreiner: chromatic harmonica (7).

Title: Eleven Promises | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Jazz Sick Records

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