(5 / 5)
Decisions, decisions. Do I start this review off with a particular line of praise I have in my head after hearing this album for the third time; or I do end this review with said comment?
It is quite a statement, I’ll warn you…OK, ok, I have decided. Here goes: Sinne Eeg is one Great Dane. No, I’m not likening her to a dog breed! She is Danish – probably the best female jazz singer I have heard since the legends such as Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald.
There, I told you it was an eyebrow-raising quote. But it is absolutely true. Recorded in New York with top end US musicians and her own long-term pianist from Denmark, produced by Ms Eeg, a mix of four Great American Songbook standards and six Sinne Eeg originals. Her ninth recording as leader.
For this new project, she chose three of the most respected names on the U.S. jazz scene today: guitarist Larry Koonse, bass player Scott Colley and drummer Joey Baron, who have all played with a Who’s Who of jazz greats. The ensemble is completed by her countryman, long-time collaborator and stellar pianist, Jacob Christoffersen. Sinne is influenced by Nancy Wilson, Betty Carter and Sarah Vaughan.
My gob was well and truly smacked hearing how effortlessly she sails through these tracks, from one to 10 and sounding so natural and relaxed; if she was any more relaxed she’d fall over!
Her control, her phrasing and her tone is some kind of wonderful. Any words to sum up Sinne Eeg and this gem of a record, are never ever going to do her or it full justice. If you are a fan of Ms Vaughan, Ms Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson and their ilk, then this is for you.
There’s a British jazz singer with a soulful side to her that I really like, and she is on a US label and records in the States. Her name is Polly Gibbons. Polly and Sinne are not that similar in tone or style, but they are exactly the same in class and quality. World class and top quality.
Sinne is a bit of a chameleon vocally, track by track. One minute, smooth jazz, the next scat singing, the next a tearjerker ballad where there is no hiding place for the voice, and she shines as bright as The North Star in the cold Danish night sky. Her relaxed and innate style is at times, quite mesmerising. Them there are some mad skillz.
On track six, the title cut, Sinne and her band; instruments and voice are as one. So much chemistry. Same as Ella, she was never a singer with a backing band. Her voice was a God-given instrument and that instrument was always a part of the band.
Ella’s timbre and tone emulated horns and more, and this talented Danish lady has the same uber-skills. Sinne Egg-penned track six is a prime example, and a gloriously free and unshackled performance by her and the players. Her ‘vocalese’ is magnificent. Her first attempt at writing and ‘singing’ a lyric-less song. It’s superb.
Her control and the space she and the band leaves, is so stunning across this record, but none more so than on track seven, ”Aleppo”, the graceful and melancholic ballad paying tribute to the little boy – and others like him – who the world saw shocking pictures of, washed up dead on a sea shore, while trying to escape the war in Syria. Sinne wrote the song in tribute to the child, and to highlight that whole horrible situation that the rest of the world seems to have almost ignored.
Pianist Jacob Christoffersen has that Dave Grusin touch, and also put me in mind of the great and underrated Billy Taylor. The mix of standards and originals is spot on. A masterclass for all and any vocalists anywhere on the planet, no matter their chosen genre of music they sing.
She’s been a long-time fan of Sheila Jordan, whose version of Rodgers and Hart’s “Falling in Love with Love” motivated Sinne to record her own inimitable take on the song. And she’s also always admired Sarah Vaughan’s rendition of Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love.” They scrapped the planned arrangement, and improvised a new one on the spot, breathing fresh life into the standard.
Sinne’s also added some new lyrics to the Cole Porter classic, “Anything Goes”, the album’s closing number. Sassy, quirky version, where the pianist comes into his own and channels the old; shades of Brubeck, with the new; hints of Jarrett and Tyner. You may think you’ve heard all there is to hear on yet another version of the Gene De Paul, Patricia Johnston and Don Raye-penned standard, “I’ll Remember April”, but think again…
Sinne’s album, “Face the Music”, released in 2014, earned her a Danish Music Award (Denmark’s Grammy’s) for Best Jazz Vocal Album, along with the Ben Webster Prize (for which Sinne is the sole female recipient for the last 30 years), and the Prix du Jazz, awarded by the French Academie du Jazz.
But we can forget what she has done up to now. “Dreams”. Sinne Eeg. Wow! Just wow!
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’