CD OF THE WEEK BER­GEN BIG BAND/KARIN KROG

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS CDs - Ray Comiskey

Seag­ull Grappa ★★★★ Es­tab­lished in 1993, Nor­way’s BBB make a be­lated record­ing de­but with this CD. The won­der is that it’s taken so long; the band is pow­er­ful, pre­cise, laid­back and swing­ing, and in singer and com­pa­triot Krog (pic­tured) it has a guest of in­ter­na­tional class. Bri­tain’s John Sur­man, who acts as di­rec­tor, also or­ches­trated seven pieces (a stan­dard, My Shin­ing Hour, and six orig­i­nals, five jointly writ­ten with Krog and one by Krog alone) and takes a cou­ple of so­los on bari­tone and so­prano.

Sur­man’s ar­range­ments for the singer work beau­ti­fully, par­tic­u­larly the gor­geously voiced ti­tle track, with its haunt­ing lyric, and the de­light­ful Don’t Just Sing. There’s some lovely writ­ing from a rel­a­tively low-profile (at least in jazz terms) Cana­dian, John War­ren, who turns Lament, the John­son/Hen­dricks tune, into a kind of tone poem. But the pièce de ré­sis­tance is the old­est ar­range­ment, a su­perb, dark, sonorous re­fash­ion­ing of An­gel Eyes, with its sub­tly mor­dant hints of dis­so­nance, by the late Don El­lis, which finds Krog at her dis­tinc­tive best.

There’s noth­ing on Seag­ull that could be called avant garde, but Krog, Sur­man and the BBB are a class act. And the record­ing qual­ity, by the great Jan Erik Kong­shaug, is re­mark­able. www.karinkrog.no, www.john­sur­man.com, www.vest­norsk­jaz­zsen­ter.no.

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