Finding a balance between original material and the great tradition of jazz classics and standards can be difficult as a singer. Sometimes, you end up with albums that merely replicate what has already been said, and other times you encounter music that cuts all ties to tradition and ends up being strangely anonymous. This is not to say that albums consisting of pure standard material or all original songs cannot be the right path to choose, but the most interesting music is often created in a dialogue with tradition.
On her album Whirlwind, Swedish born singer Rebecka Larsdotter, who is now based in New York, successfully navigates in a territory of singer/songwriter material, modern lyrical jazz and the timeless expression of the standards.
The opener, "Peace," penned by the iconic pianist and composer, Horace Silver, sets the mood in a tune where the text tells of a place where "the sycamores grow / And daffodils have their fun." Larsdotter gets deep into the idyllic mood of the song while Aaron Parks' liquid piano lines grace the song. His beautiful, bell-like harmonies resurface on "Into" with a pop chorus where Larsdotter sings about the starlit sky.
Whirlwind was recorded in three different sessions and drummer Ari Hoenig plays a vital role on the session that produced the majority of the tracks on the album. His energetic playing drives the music forward and is an intriguing contrast to the gentleness of the songs, but he also shows a more soft side on his own ballad "If the Wind Will Allow."
Besides the original songs, standards "Like Someone in Love" and the concluding "My Shining Hour" fit seamlessly into the program where the only oddity is the organ-blues-funk of "Morning After Pill," but even this tune is a charming break from the introspective mood that carry many of the songs. Still, Larsdotter also knows how to swing, and in many ways, Whirlwind is a complete portrait of a singer whose own shining hour has come.
Peace; Tomorrow's Yesterdays; Indigo Child; Like Someone in Love; Kvar; Zane's
Tune; Into; Morning After Pill; If The Wind Will Allow; Hmm; My Shining Hour.