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In the last decade Norway has become a flourishing hotbed for many young musicians who seem to enjoy blurring the so-called lines between jazz and other neighboring genres. But Norway has also a very solid mainstream jazz community that the recent international exposure of the local scene seems to have missed. Singer Hilde Hefte, from the southern city of Kristiansand, has just released her fourth disc on her own Ponca Jazz label, to coincide with her fiftieth birthday. On The Corner is a fine example of such a community.
Hefte is a musical educator, composer and arranger, as well as an actor in plays and musical cabarets based on the stories of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel. She dedicated her first three solo releases to Chet Baker, Bill Evans and the Brazilian bossa-nova classics (sung in Norwegian). Hefte describes On The Corner as a "memory-album" that sums her musical memories and influences from her childhood until now.
For this recording, she picked the same veteran musicians who accompanied her on her first release: pianist Egil Kapstad, who has played with Chet Baker, Red Mitchell, Bob Brookmeyer and others; tenor saxophonist Nisse Sandström, who has played with Swedish singer Monica Zetterlund and Red Mitchell; bassist Bjørn Alterhaug and drummer Eyvind Olsen Wahlen. This release was recorded at the famous Rainbow studios in Oslo by master engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug.
These experienced musicians deliver understated, but assured and warm performances on On The Corner. Hefte's presentation is elegant and playful, and always personal. She turns four songs that are identified with Peggy Lee, one of her early influences, into her own while emphasizing a playful presentation, including "Between the Devil and the Blue Sea" and "The Shining Sea." Her presentation of Cole Porter's "The Laziest Girl in Town" highlights her ability to sound spoiled; her tempting vocals and a beautifully reserved solo by Sandström also mark this piece.
But the most heartfelt songs are the most personalthe title song, "On The Corner," a blues that is dedicated to her son and his wife; the childhood song "Hi-Lilli, Hi-Lo"; and a tribute to the late Swedish singer and actor Monica Zetterlund, who passed away last year, which is the only song not sung in English, "At Angöra en brygga," the theme song from the 1965 Swedish comedy Docking the Boat. On these songs Hefte proves herself an intelligent singer who can feel and play with the lyrics, melody and rhythm.
Track Listing: I Love Being Here With You; Tea For Two; Anser Me; Between The Devil And The Deep Blue
Sea; Lisell September; The Laziest Girl In Town; At Long Last Love; On The Corner; Hi-Lilli,
Hi-Lo; New York City Blues; The Shining Sea; For Monica: At Angöra en brygga and Yesterday
I Heard The Rain; Quiet Now.