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Lazy Afternoon

Prophone PCD 087 [49:50]



Lazy Afternoon (Moss-Latouche) [4:57] *
It Never Entered My Mind (Rodgers-Hart) [2:52] *
I Can’t Make You Love Me (Reid-Shamblin) [3:54] *
My Foolish Heart (Young-Washington) [3:59] *
A Natural Woman (Goffin-King-Wexler) [3:54] **
They Can’t Take That Away from Me (George and Ira Gershwin) [2:59] **
Caught Up in the Rapture (Glenn-Quander) [4:29] *
Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing (Wonder) [3:59] *
Day by Day (Cahen-Stordahl-Weston) [4:18] **
Willow Weep for Me (Ronnell) [4:58]
Let’s Stay Together (Green-Mitchell-Jackson) [3:11] **
It’s Alright with Me (Porter) [3:41] **
When I Fall in Love (Young-Heyman)[2:32]
Johanna Grüssner (vocal)
Ted Broussard (guitar)
Bob Sunda (bass)
Mike Burch (drums)*
David Mahoney (drums)**
rec. 1-3 May, 2006, Dockside Studios, Maurice, Louisiana

The Finnish singer Johanna Grüssner is an undoubted talent – one need only listen to her Naxos (86078-2) disc No More Blues, issued in 2004, to be sure of this. This new CD, however, is something of a disappointment.
Grüssner, who studied both at Berklee and the Manhattan School of Music, is now based in Stockholm, but made a special trip to New Orleans to record this album. The results are pleasant listening – perhaps for a lazy afternoon, should one be lucky enough to have one – but there’s an air of blandness about much of the music which makes it less than memorable. The choice of material perhaps relies on the over familiar, and the implicit competition is sometimes of the very highest order. Grüssner, it has to be said, characterises some of the songs rather less vividly than my earlier knowledge of her work led me to expect. Grüssner is too good a vocalist for there not to be some attractive moments, some nicely judged inflexions, some striking phrases and the CD closes with a nicely considered reading of ‘When I Fall in Love’; but the whole never catches fire.
Producer John Snyder tells us, in some gushing notes in the booklet, that "She came prepared. With her songs, her arrangements, her honed-technique, her determination, She let the musicians play but she was quick to push them where she wanted them to go". Mmm … I wonder if that isn’t a coded acknowledgement of a certain lack of spontaneity in the recording. Certainly the accompanying musicians – well established on the New Orleans scene – do, very competently, what they were paid (I trust!) to do, but one senses little real involvement or passion in their work. It isn’t intended as an insult to Ted Broussard and his colleagues if I say that Grüssner’s wholly unaccompanied intro to ‘Day by Day’ is perhaps the finest moment on the CD; indeed Brossard himself contributes an attractive, brief solo on the same track – his musicianship is not in doubt. But somehow singer and accompanists never strike sparks off one another, never really seem to stimulate one another. It is perhaps the absence of this creative interplay between vocalist and accompanists, the failure of each to do anything which surprises the other, that ensures that this album never really rises above the level of professional competency?
It is a shame that this should be so; maybe Grüssner would be better served by a situation over which she had less control, where was made/enabled to face the unexpected just a little more?

Glyn Pursglove

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