All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

Radka Toneff: Fairytales

Gareth Thompson By

Sign in to view read count
Norway's best-selling jazz album ever is also a recording laced with tragedy. Only weeks after its 1982 release, singer Radka Toneff was found dead in the Bygdøy woods, near Oslo. She was aged thirty. The verdict was suicide caused by an overdose of sleeping pills.

Toneff was born in 1952 and by her mid-twenties had earned acclaim with her own jazz quartet. But it was Toneff's ad hoc duets with the band's pianist Steve Dobrogosz that inspired Fairytales. Recorded over two nights at the Grieg Hall in Bergen, the album has since achieved a certain folklore befitting its title.

This new edition from Odin Records (founded by the Norwegian Jazz Federation) has been produced using MQA technology. The original takes were captured on digital reel to reel, but later analysis suggested the CD versions were at the wrong pitch. In essence, MQA has corrected the pitch for this release to A=442 Hz. It might seem trifling, yet shows how much devotion Fairytales has incurred down the years.

Toneff studied music at the Oslo Music Conservatory and was a jazz natural as this remarkable outing proves. At times she displays the ethereal grace of a pure diva. Then you catch a hint of huskiness—sultry and seductive. Above all, Toneff sings with a fragility that also offers a show of strength.

Dobrogosz provides the perfect foil for all this. His piano accompaniment is part George Winston, part Keith Jarrett. Silence is often a key element, along with playful and impromptu extras. Together the duo seems to occupy a private space, almost cocooned from the world. Natural acoustics in the Grieg Hall play a part, as do the expanded echoes from one stairwell.

And the songs offered up here? "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" makes for a show-stopping starter, with Jimmy Webb's classic getting the misty moonlight treatment. "Lost In The Stars" by Kurt Weill is another wistful show tune that turns to putty in Toneff's hands. "My Funny Valentine" is hauntingly rendered and shows again Toneff's vocal control. Happily shorn of vibrato, her emotion is relayed by long notes held in suspense, without ornate quivering.

"Nature Boy" sounds as mythical as it once did for Nat "King" Cole, "Long Daddy Green" is offbeat and shadowy, whilst "Before Love Went Out Of Style" simply soars. Dobrogosz also co-wrote some pieces here and Elton John's pining "Come Down In Time" was always a jazz standard in waiting. John admits that chordwise it was like nothing he'd written before.

Odin's detailed revision of this album is touching, though you sense it would sound blissful in any received format. There was no happy ending for Toneff's fairytale, but her story in song will last an eternity.

Track Listing: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress; Come Down In Time; Lost In The Stars; Mystery Man; My Funny Valentine; Nature Boy; Long Daddy Green; Wasted; Before Love Went Out Of Style; I Read My Sentence.

Personnel: Radka Toneff: vocals; Steve Dobrogosz: piano.

Title: Fairytales | Year Released: 1986 | Record Label: Odin

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Dreams And Other Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams And Other Stories
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2018
Read The Nook CD/LP/Track Review
The Nook
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2018
Read Julius Eastman - Piano Interpretations CD/LP/Track Review
Julius Eastman - Piano Interpretations
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 22, 2018
Read Moments Before CD/LP/Track Review
Moments Before
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 22, 2018
Read From The Vault: No Security, San Jose '99 (2CD + SD Blu Ray) CD/LP/Track Review
From The Vault: No Security, San Jose '99 (2CD + SD...
by John Kelman
Published: September 22, 2018
Read with whom you can be who you are CD/LP/Track Review
with whom you can be who you are
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 21, 2018
Read "Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" CD/LP/Track Review Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Taktlos Zurich 2017" CD/LP/Track Review Taktlos Zurich 2017
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 30, 2018
Read "Vortex" CD/LP/Track Review Vortex
by John Kelman
Published: May 12, 2018
Read "No World Between Us" CD/LP/Track Review No World Between Us
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 30, 2018
Read "Memory/Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Memory/Imagination
by Jim Olin
Published: May 8, 2018
Read "Pickin'" CD/LP/Track Review Pickin'
by Matt Hooke
Published: September 1, 2018