…I am grateful to the band for the gift of allowing the rediscovery of such great songs.
Ole Fredrik Norbye: piano; Elisabeth Karsten: vocals; John Borge Askeland: double bass – with Benedik Hofseth: tenor saxophone; Nils Petter Molvaer: trumpet; Heine Bugge: accordion
Recorded May 2021 by Vidar Lunden at Musikkloftet, Asker, Norway.
The challenge that this trio has set itself is to take jazz standards which have become overly familiar from karaoke bars and hotel lounges (like ‘Fly me to the moon’, ‘Strangers in the night’, ‘Witchcraft’, ‘I’ve got you under my skin’, ‘My way’ etc.) and rediscover the essence of each piece.
Stripping each tune of the embellishments and kitsch that have grown around them, focuses the listener’s attention on the delivery of the lyrics and the purity of the melody that underpins them.
In each piece, Karsten delivers the lyrics with a considered attention to detail in phrasing and to the emotional resonance of the words. This generally slows the familiar tunes a little, but makes for pleasant listening.
Norbye’s piano then deconstructs the melodies further until his playing provides hints and rumours of the original chord patterns. These echo the sung phrases but do so in ways that provide tangential reference in delicate phrases.
Around these reframings of the songs, sax, trumpet or accordion offer their interpretations of the vocal and piano lines. The result fits the ambition and provides an intriguing route into songs that I wasn’t sure I’d want to hear again – and I am grateful to the band for the gift of allowing the rediscovery of such great songs.
Reviewed by Chris Baber