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...

2

Kadi Vija and Lucas Dann: Ugly Beauty

Troy Dostert By

Sign in to view read count
It's hard to imagine anything more daunting for an up-and-coming vocalist than to tackle a vocal album of Thelonious Monk material—wordless, no less—with nothing more than piano accompaniment. Yet that's exactly what Finnish singer Kadi Vija has done here, along with Canadian pianist Lucas Dann. Hitting those crazy intervals and capturing the unique logic of Monk's compositions is a herculean task, and it's to Vija's credit that she does so fearlessly on these ten challenging tracks. Along the way, she brings a distinctive sensibility and rhythmic individuality that allows her to develop her own voice in her interpretation of this repertoire.

There is a clarity and purity to Vija's singing that is rather beguiling, evident especially on the more ruminative pieces. The title track in particular is revealing in its emotional vulnerability, as Vija teases out unadorned, languid notes with understated grace. Dann's sympathetic accompaniment also shines here, as he provides the perfect support with harmonically rich chords and a delicate touch. Vija's wispy lines also get plenty of room to emerge on "Monk's Mood," as she traces the melodic contours of the piece with nuanced skill and subtlety.

On the more up-tempo tracks, Vija's rhythmic vitality comes to the surface, with both renditions of "Bemsha Swing" quite imaginative and creatively phrased. Dann's percussive accompaniment on the alternative take is especially effective in energizing Vija's adventurous re-working of the melody. And listen to the two as they collaborate wonderfully on the bouncy "Booboo's Birthday," with Dann and Vija in perfect rapport as Dann offers a strutting accompaniment that toys with the tempo while Vija saunters alongside him. While Vija's delivery isn't exactly flawless on the jauntier tracks—she sometimes struggles with hitting her upper-range notes consistently and there's some occasional wobble in pitch as well—the vigorous sense of discovery and bold reinvention of the material tend to outweigh the performance's shortcomings.

With the courage and creativity on display here, there's little doubt that both of these musicians will have more to say in the future. In the meantime, this is a nice tribute to Monk's legacy and a recording that's fully in the spirit of the master's inimitable style.

Track Listing: Gallop's Gallop; Bemsha Swing; Monk's Mood; Boo Boo's Birthday; Ask Me Now; Introspection; In Walked Bud; Work; Bemsha Swing (alternate take); Ugly Beauty

Personnel: Kadi Vija: voice; Lucas Dann: piano

Title: Ugly Beauty | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Texicalli

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Ugly Beauty

Ugly Beauty

Texicalli
2017

buy
Stories

Stories

Eclipse Music, Inner Circle Music
2014

buy

Related Articles

Read World Gardens CD/LP/Track Review
World Gardens
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Henry II CD/LP/Track Review
Henry II
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Conference Of The Mat/ts CD/LP/Track Review
Conference Of The Mat/ts
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Hidden Treasures Vol. 1, Monday Nights CD/LP/Track Review
Hidden Treasures Vol. 1, Monday Nights
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Âme Sèche CD/LP/Track Review
Âme Sèche
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 14, 2018
Read Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review
Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
by Doug Collette
Published: December 13, 2018
Read "On The Path" CD/LP/Track Review On The Path
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 2, 2018
Read "Stillness & Sirens" CD/LP/Track Review Stillness & Sirens
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 17, 2018
Read "The Blues and I Should have a Party" CD/LP/Track Review The Blues and I Should have a Party
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 14, 2018
Read "Golden Earrings" CD/LP/Track Review Golden Earrings
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 2, 2018
Read "Fatidic Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review Fatidic Dreams
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 4, 2018
Read "SHIFTED" CD/LP/Track Review SHIFTED
by James Fleming
Published: December 12, 2018