I love the way they deconstruct them and put them back piece by piece, making them sound like something new.
Naxos Prophone Records
Lovisa Jennervall – Vocals; Manne Skafvenstedt – Piano; August Eriksson – Double bass; Edvin Glante – Drums
When the new Ellas Kapell CD FOR ALL WE KNOW showed up in the mail I thought Ellas must be the singer’s name. After all it’s an album of vocal standards.
No, Lovisa Jennervall handles vocals. Lovisa explained the genesis of the band’s name. When the group formed in 2016, as kind of a tribute band, “Ella” in Ellas Kapell was in honor of Ella Fitzgerald. Kapell is Swedish for chapel and it’s also a word used to describe a smaller band.
Many singers and bands have put their own spin on classic jazz songs but few have done it with as much panache as Ellas Kapell. This is their third album. They’ve collaborated with some of the biggest names in Swedish jazz. They were named Vocal Jazz Act of the Year by Lira Music Magazine.
Lovisa Jennervall is a wonderful singer but Ellas Kapell isn’t just three guys backing up a singer. This Stockholm quartet play in perfect synchronization. Their performance feels like they’re having a friendly, but intricate conversation.
‘ I Get Along Without You Very Well ’starts quietly, tentatively. It’s as if they’re not sure they should tackle this classic from 1939. That doesn’t last long. They’re soon playing around with tempo, melody, and dynamics, making the song their own.
Jennervall has a crystal clear voice and a pretty amazing range. It’s fun listening to her effortlessly hit high notes while singing mid range. Pianist Manne Skafvenstedt and Jennervall are a musical match made in heaven. Drummer Edvin Glante and bassist August Eriksson lay down a really cool backbone of the music.
Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics to ‘Autumn Leaves ’and I think he would have loved what Ellas Kapell did to the song. Jennervall’s singing is usually crystal clear, concise, but here she’s having a good time slurring, sliding a bit into the next phrase, extending the lengths of words.
Eriksson’s melodic bass solo is marvelous. It sounds like he’s holding the strings back until they snap. I think that’s Eriksson humming along. Skafvenstedt’s solo is single note runs ala Hampton Hawes and then there are some block chords a touch behind the beat.
Title track ‘For All We Know ’is achingly sad. This is a “sitting alone in a darkened room wishing that person missing was coming back” song. If it’s possible for a piano to mimic falling tears I think Skafvenstedt nailed it.
Burt Bacharach’s ‘Close To You ’was a huge hit for the Carpenters. Karen Carpenter’s version was oh so sad. Jennervall scats. It’s jazzier, and, she’s flippant. She’s saying she’d like to be close, but, if not she’ll be just fine. Lovisa Jennervall is a great storyteller.
Ellas Kapell have a lot of respect and love for these classic standards. I love the way they deconstruct them and put them back piece by piece, making them sound like something new. FOR ALL WE KNOW is a wonderful recording.