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Swedish Grammy-nominated vocalist Sarah Riedel has quickly established herself as an accomplished performer of lyrical jazz with indie-pop sensibilities. Her jazz roots come from her father, bassist and composer Georg Riedel, who composed for television and accompanied pianist Jan Johansson on Jazz på svenska (Megafon, 1964)a collection of jazz arrangements of Swedish folk songs. Like her father, Riedel also adopts songs from other genres, deconstructs them and finally transforms them into bona fide torch songs.
Perfectly Still (Footprint, 2012) sees Riedel join up with a guitarist and bassist for a collection of tracks that are at once youthful and timeless. Unlike powerful instruments such as saxophone or percussion, which can easily dominate a recording such as this, the acoustic guitar and bass provide a comfortable, intimate sound, which makes the idyllic backdrop to Riedel's delicate, often timid vocal delivery.
The repertoire comprises original material by all three members of the trio as well as a few well-chosen covers. "Surbaya Johnny," one of German composer Kurt Weill's collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, is playful, dramatic and concisely performed. Bassist Viktor Skokic's "Again" and "Portugal" display a keen compositional hand and thoughtful lyrics.
Echoes of Antonio Carlos Jobim abound in both the sparse guitar parts and Riedel's vocals. Space and tension are employed well throughout, yet the appearances of an alto saxophone on "To My Left" and a clarinet on "The Stone" add welcome color to the otherwise narrow palette of sounds on Perfectly Still.
Track Listing: Again; In Such Silence; Portugal; Blue Town; Surabaya Johnny; The Stone; The Storm; To My Left; You Belong to Me.
Personnel: Sarah Riedel: vocals; Carl Svensson: guitar; Viktor Skokic: double bass; Thomas Backman: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Martin Öhman: percussion.