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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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JEANETTE KOHN &
SWEDISH RADIO CHOIR

New Eyes on Baroque

ACT 9547-2

 

 

  1. Jesu bleibet meine Freude (J.S. Bach)

  2. Quia in respexit (J.S. Bach)

  3. Music For A While (H. Purcell)

  4. Gia Nel seno (G.F. Handel)

  5. Ode to Queen Anne (G.F. Handel)

  6. Air (Bass solo intro) (J.S. Bach)

  7. Air on a G-string (J.S. Bach)

  8. Wachet auf (J.S. Bach)

  9. Bist du bei mir (J.S. Bach)

10. Bachpolska (J.S. Bach/E. Sahlstrom)

11. In deine Hande (J.S. Bach)

12.When I Am Laid (H. Purcell)

13. With Drooping Wings (H. Purcell)

14. Lascia chio pianga (G.F. Handel)

15. Ach Herr lass dein lieb Englein (J.S. Bach)

 

Jeanette Kohn – Soprano

Swedish Radio Choir conducted by Gustav Sjokvist

Nils Landgren – Trombone

Johan Norberg – Guitar

Jonas Knutsson – Baritone sax, soprano sax

Eva Kruse – Acoustic bass

 

This disc seeks to bridge two worlds, that of classical music and jazz. For this reviewer it was an intriguing listen. Essentially, it features a classically-trained soprano (indeed, an opera singer), Jeanette Köhn, with a choir and four fine jazz musicians playing music from the Baroque canon. The music of Bach, in particular, has attracted a variety of jazz or jazz-influenced performers, notably Jacques Loussier, The Swingle Singers, and Tim Garland, the British saxophonist and composer, who has actually written a piece for saxophone and orchestra entitled Father Bach, premiered in May 2012.

Jeanette Köhn has a clear, pure and quite beautiful voice and the Swedish Radio Choir are splendid. The jazz musicians here weren’t previously known to me, with one exception, Nils Landgren. Landgren is Swedish-born and is noted for his Nils Landgren Funk Unit but has explored a wide range of musical tastes apart from jazz – R & B, rock, soul and hip-hop. At one time lead trombonist with Thad Jones’s Ball of Fire band, he has also played with jazz luminaries such as the late Esbjörn Svensson, Tomasz Stanko and Herbie Hancock. Jonas Knutsson is another Swedish musician and, as is not unusual in Scandinavia, is influenced by folk music. Eva Kruse is Hamburg-born and has a growing reputation as a bassist. Together with the guitarist Johan Norberg, who is also a producer and studio engineer, they interact with each other in a way that will bring pleasure to the discerning jazz listener.

Landgren shows his quality time and again on trombone, improvising adeptly on Jesu bleibet meine Freude and with Knutsson’s soprano sax onQuia in respexit, Gia Nel seno and Bachpolska (the latter great fun) combining superbly. Knutsson plays baritone sax on Wachet auf in a jaunty manner, as Kohl and a solemn choir sing the melody and on In deine Hande is reminiscent of John Surman (quite a compliment!). Eva Kruse lays down a sound bass line throughout but can be heard to good effect on When I Am Laid and Air (Bass solo intro) where she picks out the familiar notes of Air on a G-string then improvises inventively but briefly. Johan Norberg, on guitar, contributes exquisite playing on a number of tracks, Wachet auf and Bist du bei mir to name but two. There are two tracks on this album which contain no jazz input: Music For A While and With Drooping Wings. Some of the music, Air on a G-string is a case in point, contains no surprises but is beautifully played, as when in Air, we hear the trombone poignant over the voices of the choir.

All in all, it is difficult to classify this album. Straight-ahead jazzers may want to give it a miss but lovers of Baroque will warm to it, as well as those who appreciate good jazz musicianship. There was no mistaking, however, what the reaction was in Sweden – it topped the jazz charts there in July 2013. I felt it had a lot going for it!

James Poore



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