Gin Wigmore

The cover image of Gravel & Wine

A musical treasure hunt that ended in New Zealand

On-line stores that sell music often provide their customers with information about the music that is assumed to be close to the customer´s earlier choices. When you view a specific album you are informed about what other customers have bought along with the one you are viewing. Spotify and other operators provide similar technologies.

This service is a valuable tool for those of us who search for new music – and you don´t have to buy anything to use the service. Of course one does not have to stop at the first proposals. Often it is better to move on and see which artists are associated with these proposals, and so on. The work does require some patience because many of the artists that are suggested are uninteresting or bleak copies of the artist you started with. But after a few hours, following different paths of musical associations, you can sometimes find an amazing artist that you might not have found otherwise. At least not until much later, when the artist’s reputation might have found its way to your usual media.

That is what happened when I in March 2012 found Gin Wigmore from New Zealand. I do not remember today who the starting point artist was, but it may very well have been Amy Winehouse. After having tested many different paths and artists without any luck, Gin’s voice suddenly “cut” through the room. When you hear that voice you know you have struck gold. Not only because her voice is very special, but also because it reveals a strong personality with great professionalism. In short – a solid artist.

This impression is strengthened when you listen to the large variation of her songs. Gin writes all her songs alone or together with colleagues. Everything from beautiful ballads like Hallelujah and Dying Day to powerful rock music like Oh My and Man Like That. Swinging country as in Sweet Hell and catchy folk rock as in Devil In Me. If those are the right labels.

Gin’s first album, an EP also titled Extended Play, came in 2008. The record includes the personal Hallelujah, which Gin wrote as a tribute to her father after his death. Since then she has released three full length albums – Holy Smoke, Gravel & Wine, and Blood To Bone – and a number of singles. I really like all songs on the EP and the two first full length albums. Not a single weak entry. Buy is highly recommended – as is attending one of her live performances. When Gin toured in Europe 2013 we saw her in a memorable performance at the small club Strom in Munich.

However, I took me some time to come to terms with the third full length album Blood to Bone. I immediately liked the songs and the arrangements better on the first two, and after listening briefly to the third I turned my attention to other artists and other kinds of music. But while updating this post I realise that I should have given it more time. It did not immediately appeal to me as much as the previous, but it wins by further listening.

Although I appreciate all songs on the EP and Gin’s two first full length albums, the ballads are my favourites. From the EP, of course Hallelujah, and from the first full length album the mighty New Revolution and the more low key Golden Ship and Dying Day. And also Too Late For Lovers. But they do not stand out much from the rest. Everything is really good, and the albums are cleverly composed. On the second album, Gravel & Wine, Gin explores our dark side with the help of some unfamiliar and interesting sound images.

Soon Gins´s fourth album Ivory will arrive. The release is planned for March 2018. Gin won my heart with her first albums, and the fact that one album did not immediately ”work” for me will certainly not prevent me from waiting for her fourth album with great expectations!

Hallelujah

Dying Day

Oh My

Man Like That

Sweet Hell

Devil In Me

New Revolution

Golden Ship

Too Late for Lovers

Black Sheep

Don’t Stop

Written In The Water

______

This post is a translated and developed version of my post in Swedish, October 2012. Read also about Gin in my post Personality and Music Preferences. There you will find an explanation to why I like Gin’s music, as well as music of quite different characters.

And read about how you can interpret the fact that you sometimes do not like an artist’s recent album as much as the previous in my post Planets that Meet.

 

Personality and music preferences

How can it be that I like so different kinds of music?

Why do I like a special kind of music? And why do I like a specific song or a singer? And how can it be that I like so different kinds of music? Here is a story where I try to use some basic notions about needs to understand my own music preferences. If you get inspired you can continue and apply these notions on your own music preferences.


The theory

Let’s assume that we as human beings have needs of identification and of compensation. To satisfy the need of identification we might have a predisposition to search for persons, ideas, cultural expressions etc. that we can relate to in terms of qualities that resemble important traits of our own personality. This process does not have to be conscious. On the contrary it probably most of the time goes on although we are unaware of it. In finding friends and partners this might mean that the same kind of personalities is attracted by one another, maybe in order to build smooth relations with few frictions. In terms of music it means that my personality and the music I like are in harmony and speak the same “language” in terms of emotions, expression and ideas. I feel at home with this kind of music.

The need of compensation means instead that we in fact also have a predisposition to search for and relate to persons, ideas, cultural expressions etc. that are different from the predominant traits of our personality. The aim might be to help the weaker sides of our personality to balance our dominant traits. Again, we might very well be unaware of this process. In finding friends and partners this might mean that different kinds of personalities are drawn to one another, maybe in order to build relations with access to different kinds of predominant traits. In terms of music it means that I might like music that helps weaker sides of my personality to come forward once in a while.

Actually I believe that we have both kinds of needs. Sometimes we need more of resemblance and identification; sometimes we need more of difference and compensation. But if we almost always search for resemblance and identification it might be because we are afraid of difference and change, and if we almost always search for difference and compensation it might be because we are dissatisfied with our own personality. At its best the two drives are in balance over a period of time.


Me

In rough terms, who am I? I believe I am a more introverted than extroverted person, more thoughtful and serious than action oriented and funny, more melancholy than cheerful. But underneath my thoughtful appearance there are strong emotions. And beauty and aesthetics is important to me. Sometimes more important than function.

Of course there is much more to say, and there are lots of reservations to such a brief characterization, but let’s see what it can be used for in terms of analysing music preferences.


The artists

So far I have been talking about music preferences, but in relation to Musik.pm it is often more interesting to talk about the individual artists and their music. The charisma and expression of the artists are often important in the music I like. So, in fact, what I am trying to capture might be resemblances and differences between personalities – the personalities of the artists expressed in their music and my own personality. Whether an artist’s personality in music also is his or hers personality outside music, I do not know. When getting closer to an artist you sometimes realise that he or she in terms of personal traits probably is more varied than the expressions of their songs. They, as we, of course have predominant and weaker sides of their personalities.

Below you will find five of my favourite artists and one favourite genre. By means of quotes from earlier posts and a few music videos I try to show why they have become favourites of mine. If you want to read more about the artists and enjoy some more of their music videos you can of course go to the original posts.


Diana Krall

Source: YouTube

I have no difficulties to identify the traits of Diana Krall’s music that attracts me. It is spelled out in my post about Diana in March, 2017, original posted in Swedish in May 2013, telling the story of how I found her in the beginning of the new Millennium. The serious and intense expression, manifested by her slowing down even already slow ballads, was in perfect harmony with the basic traits of my own personality. After a couple of hectic decades in life this was what I then really needed, not only as a relaxation but also as a meeting with my own basic mentality.

One day at the beginning of the new millennium, I heard on the radio a Burt Bacharach song in an interpretation that was new to me. The vocalist had a deep and sensual voice, and she sang slowly with a strong sense of presence and with a serious emotional expression. And then there was the beautiful and restrained piano. The expression of this interpretation reached something in me that hadn’t been reached for a long time. The song was The Look of Love, and the singer was Diana Krall. Right there in life I was struck by music again, and it was Diana Krall who hit me. (From the post Diana Krall, 18 March, 2017)

The Look Of Love

I’ve Got You Under My Skin


Keren Ann

Source: YouTube

I can also easily see why Keren Ann’s music is very close to my heart – at this instant in life probably the music that is closest. As an introverted person I need refuges in life, and the seriousness of Keren Ann match my need for taking things seriously. And the sheer beauty of Keren Ann’s melodies, and her singing them accompanied by her own guitar, satisfy my needs of exactly that – beauty. Her melancholy satisfies my need of both seriousness and beauty. Again, you can find the base for these conclusions expressed in my first post about Keren Ann and her music from 8 June, 2016.

The biography presented on Keren Ann’s current website starts with chapter 7, referring to her seventh album. This is not where I am in terms of listening. I have briefly listened to all seven albums and have found many beautiful songs, but I keep coming back to “chapter 2” and “chapter 3” – the second and the third album – La Disparition (2002) and Not Going Anywhere (2003). On these albums Keren Ann’s musical expression of soft melancholy and intimacy is like a refuge, a sanctuary I do not want to leave for a long time.

But it does not end here. Keren Ann’s later music sometimes has a more rough expression. Can I follow her into that terrain? I think I can. This is what I wrote in my post Alone with Keren Ann after seeing her two concerts in Paris, May 18-19, 2017, trying to describe my feelings towards the more rough parts of her concerts.

The guitar she uses is an electric one. The way she plays it does not contribute to the soft side of her music. On the contrary, the strong and sometimes forceful electric sounds stand out in sharp contrast to the soft guitar from her early career. At first I am a little bit disappointed, but after some time I acknowledge that this is an alley which Keren Ann wants to explore, and then I want to follow her. I trust her and she seems so much to enjoy what she is doing. Her usual shy expression is still there, but it is mingled with happiness for the strong music she is making.

So Keren Ann provides music that I can relate also to my search for compensation and development. It is as if she herself gives an example of the second part of my theory, the search for difference, change and development. Maybe it is also her search.

But after some thought I realize something. The guitar fools me. Although the guitar is rough, that rough expression is still harboured in Keren Ann’s general expression of melancholy. I can recognize myself in that. Could it be that whatever Keren Ann (and I) do, it is always within a framework of melancholy?

La corde et les chaussons

Not Going Anywhere

It Ain´t No Crime / In Your Back


Fado

Domingos Mira, Joana Almeida and João Vinhas at Conserva-te

What about my love of the Portuguese fado then? Where does it come from? Although fado and I come from different cultures, and I learned to love Fado only a couple of years ago, I actually believe my love comes from identification and resemblance. In the post I wrote after our fado excursion in Portugal last year the resemblance theme is to me obvious – the beauty, the seriousness, the emotional involvement, the concentration of the expression. The excursion started at the fado restaurant Casa da Marinquinhas in Porto. Here are some quotes from my post A Fado Experience, 11 November, 2016.

And then one of the most beautiful combinations of instruments – the Portuguese and the classical guitar – starts to colour the background of the Fado song. Soft, but nevertheless energetic. They do so with a delicate fabric of tones in which it is sometimes difficult to distinguish who is contributing which thread. Still, the different sounds of the two guitars are very distinct.

After a short and beautiful guitar introduction, often with a bittersweet colour, the fadista starts to sing. And the song is not less beautiful. The fadista tells the emotional story (most often a sad one) with closed eyes, and he/she does not open them until a storm of applause releases the tension of the fadista and the audience. There is never a second of silence between the song and the applause. It is as if the concentration of the strong emotions that the fadista and the musicians create gets its release when the last almost forceful tones of the guitars and the fadista are hit.

And later about me as an emotional man.

I find that the male Fado expression communicates a more sincere representation of genuine male emotions than the ones I have experienced in many other cultural expressions. I can in Fado find a home for my own emotions, not only as a “male guest” in the female representation of Fado, but also when members of my own sex interpret Fado.

And finally again about the beauty of concentration.

In general, the strong emotions of Fado, and the common focus on the experience at the Fado houses, fit my personality and temperament very well. The emotions that the music creates are felt inside every Fado house guest, but those feelings are not expressed during the Fado song. We all know that we share the experience, but we do not devalue it by comments, chit chat or eating.

On the surface it might not be obvious that fado is congenial with my personality, but it hits me right in the heart.

Casa do fado

Carminho: Lágrimas do Céu        (A post about Carminho here.)


Gin Wigmore

Source: YouTube

And now for something completely different. We are heading for three examples of artists who with their charisma and their music bring me something that balances my main personal traits.

First out is Gin Wigmore from New Zeeland. Although not quite accurate, the simplest way to characterize Gin is that she is a rock star.  On the whole her music, her voice, her looks, her tattoos, her video productions under-pin the rock star image – but still, underneath all that there is also something else. Her ballads are beautiful, and after having seen her on stage I must say that she seems to be a very nice person – not at all the depraved rock star type. And what gives me reason to provide a reservation to the rock star characterization might be a bridge to the predominant traits of my personality.

But although there are these deviations from the rock star image, Gin with her music is a person that very much enriches me by being quite something else than my predominant personal traits. Although Gin’s music, her voice and appearance are far from the music above, it gives me happiness. It does so by compensating the introverted and thoughtful traits of my personality – and thereby helps the weaker sides of my personality to come forward.

I do not quote my Swedish post about Gin Wigmore in 2012 here, but there are lots of music videos there to prove my case! Here are two of them.

Sweet Hell

Too Late for Lovers


Zaz

Source: YouTube

My next example is a young woman whose personality even less resembles my predominant traits. In the post I wrote about her in 2012 you can easily see why she is an artist who richly compensates those traits. In my first contact with her music videos I just couldn´t have enough.

At 00.02 on June 14, 2011, I received a music tip by e-mail from a friend in Germany. It took me a few days until I had time to investigate it, but as soon as that was done, a new great music personality made an entrance into our home – the young French singer Isabelle Geoffroy, better known under the name of Zaz. There are plenty of live performances with her on YouTube, and I must admit that I the weekend 18-19 of June spent many, many hours searching for her music, and time after time enjoyed what I found.

Zaz is a singer with great musicality and a lovely, somewhat hoarse voice. She is also equipped with a lot of positive energy and a large measure of personal and natural charm that unites with the musical expression. No choreographer seems to have given Zaz advice on how to perform on a stage. Only her musical pleasure of performing and singing shapes her bodily language. It is irresistible. Someone has said that she needs to be disciplined as a performer to be able to perform an entire show, but I wonder if that medicine can make her better than what you can see now. (Translation to English of my Swedish post Zaz, 7 December, 2012)

Join me in enjoying two of the videos from my post about Zaz. This is far from the main traits of my personality, but I love it.

From Montmartre: Les passants

From La Fête de la Chanson Française – Je veux and Le long de la route


Lucy Woodward

Source: LW

And last, a singer who I found in February 2014, Lucy Woodward. In the beginning I especially came to enjoy some of her early recordings where I apprehended something of a cabaret style and in some of the songs also an R&B influence. But regardless of genre it was Lucy’s charisma built on energy and humour that appealed to me. She made me happy. Again, humour and energy was needed to balance my serious and thoughtful traits.

This is the introduction to my Swedish post about Lucy, originally from 2014, later included in an English post 2017.

Lucy Woodward is a young American music entertainer with a great feeling for jazz, funk, soul, R&B and other related genres. The reason that you should call her an entertainer, and not just a singer, is her ability to engage both herself and the audience in an entertaining mix of musicality, soul and humour. This is something you have to experience. Attempts to describe her in words will not do her justice. Therefore I stop trying here, and instead refer you to the links below.

And these are some of the songs that at first made me fall for Lucy Woodward and her music. She has now musically moved on, but she is still a favourite.

Please Baby Please

Use What I Got

Babies


You

So what about you? Has this post made you think about your personality, the music you enjoy and why you like it? If so, what are your thoughts and conclusions?

 

The Conserva-te Experience

Domingos Mira, Joana Almeida and João Vinhas at Conserva-te

Lisbon November 17, 2017

It is the third day of our fado excursion in Lisbon. During the week we visit fado venues every day, and the venue this night is a fairly new one – Conserva-te in the Madragoa area. A Portuguese friend living in Sweden has advised us to go there, and she has even helped us to book a table. We take a bus from our hotel, and the last ten minutes we walk. Compared to the busy streets of Lisbon it is a big contrast to come to this neighbourhood. The small streets we walk to come to Conserva-te are almost empty. But with the help of GPS it is easy to find the place.

We step into the small restaurant and are welcomed by a young man at the door. We tell him our name and that we have a reservation. He obviously has already guessed who we are, and he introduces himself. “I am Domingos.” Our friend has told us that Domingos is the owner of the place and that he also plays the Portuguese guitar.

We are invited to our table and we order a menu with lots of small dishes and red wine. This means that we leave all other decisions to the staff. It proves to be a very wise decision. Although not expensive the wine is nice, and small very nice dishes keep coming to our table during the night. Domingos tells us that Conserva-te is built around the concept of music, food and drinks emanating from the Portuguese speaking parts of the world. The language that unites these countries has given way to mutual exchange of cultural expressions, and this is what Domingos wants to acknowledge and promote in music, food and drinks.

Domingos Mira

In terms of music this means that the guests at Conserva-te of course can enjoy the Portuguese fado, but also for instance Cap Verdean Morna or Brazilian Bossa Nova. What you will hear when you visit Conserva-te depends on the performing musicians that particular night. The night we visit Conserva-te is dedicated solely to Fado.

Domingos is passionate about his idea, and he would like to create new places built on the same concept as the original Conserva-te. He talks in an entrepreneurial way, but his entrepreneurial drive is not about earning money regardless of business. His passion rests with the idea of Conserva-te.

As a young man Domingos studied to be an engineer, and he was employed as one for some years. But he was also a good guitar player, and when labour market was troublesome he decided to go for music and his idea about promoting the cultural expressions from the Portuguese speaking parts of the world. It is not uncommon that fado musicians start their own fado restaurant, and Domingos is a musician in this tradition. However, it might be that it is not as common nowadays that it used to be.

Domingos speaking so passionately about developing his idea makes me ask if he rather wants to be a business manager than a musician. But Domingos does not want to choose between the two, and I hope that he will not have to. Domingos plays the Portuguese guitar very well, and his passion for the Conserva-te concept deserves success.

Domingos’ concept makes me remember how I myself found the Portuguese fado. I wanted to get to know Brazilian music better and, as I often do, I used the associative serendipity of the search engines of Internet to find my way to new musicians. And at one point the Internet, sensitive to cultural connections, forwarded me to a Portuguese fado song. I was intrigued by the beautiful melody, the concentrated and strong expression of the fadista – and the beautiful guitars. From that start I have made fado an important part of my music listening. So Brazil is actually the cause for us being in Lisbon, and tonight at Domingos’ place.

What about the fado then? We have heard from the well informed fado guide who travels with us that tonight’s fadista Joana Almeida is a very good one, although only 19 years old. After a while we see a very young woman step into Conserva-te, and we conclude from her youthful apperance and the way she is dressed that it must be her. It takes some time before it’s time for the first performance, and we see her sitting at the back of the small restaurant fingering her mobile. She appears so very young. Can she really sing fado in the mature way that we believe is important to the fado expression?

And then it is time. Domingos Mira, Joana Almeida and João Vinhas place themselves in the only free space that is large enough for the three of them to perform on – a couple of square meters right in front of, and very close to, the entrance door. Domingos makes sure that no one is about to enter before they start.

Domingos Mira, Joana Almeida and João Vinhas

Domingos and João starts with a beautiful traditional guitar introduction, and then it is Joana. And from one second to another there is an astonishing transformation of her character. She closes her eyes, straightens her body and concentrates – and then she sings fado strong and beautifully. She now radiates maturity and confidence.

During the night Joana performs four times. There is no other fadista, which to us is unusual. But our impression of Joana does not change, and we have no wish for another fadista to perform. Joana’s singing is of high quality through all performances and songs.

What happened when Joana started to sing? Did the melancholic fado lend her matureness while she was singing? Or did the fado make me interpret the singing Joana as a more mature woman than she really is? Or, vice versa, was I maybe misinterpreting her youth before she started to sing? Is she really so young in mind that I concluded from her appearance before the performance?

Whatever the explanation, the combination of Joana Almeida and fado is beautiful. I feel privileged to have the possibility to see this young fadista develop in the years to come.

And unfortunately I will have to wait until I can enjoy her singing again. She has so far not recorded a CD of her own, and I have not been able to find any video recordings that do her justice. So there are no YouTube links in this post. But obviously there must be some nice YouTube videos with Joana soon. When I find them I will update this blog post with those YouTube links and also post them on Musik.pm on Facebook.

But you who live in or visit Lisbon can of course enjoy Joana performing live. One very nice place to do that is at Domingos’ place, Conserva-te.

 

A Lisbon week of Fado

Lisbon

Lisbon November 15-21, 2017

Lisbon is not only the capital of Portugal; it is also the capital of fado music. The tradition is rich and there are more than a thousand fadistas and guitarristas singing and playing at numerous fado places. My wife and I have visited Lisbon twice in order to experience fado, and we will certainly come back. We have recently returned from the last visit – a one week fado excursion.

This time we travelled together with a small group in order to access the expertise of the group’s fado guide, Ulf Bergqvist. Ulf is the author of a very solid introduction to fado in Swedish – a story about the influences, the history, the fadistas/guitarristas, the fado houses etc. Ulf’s book is not only valuable as an introduction. With all the examples it also serves very well as a book of reference for the experienced fado lover. (FADO, en vägvisare till musiken och musikerna, 2013)

Ulf composed a nice mix of fado houses and fadistas for the group to enjoy. Since the decisions about performing fadistas particular nights sometimes were made as late as the day of the performance the program had to be flexible. Members of the group could also influence the program by individual wishes. One of the nights the group did not go to a fado restaurant but to a concert with Ana Laíns – and another night my wife and I went on our own to a small fado house, following the advice of a Portuguese friend living in Sweden.

These are the five fado houses my wife and I visited – together with the group and on our own.
Parreirinha de Alfama
Fado em Si
Conserva-te
Tasca do Jaime da Graça
Adega Machado
And then there was the concert at the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia.

Of course we did not have the possibility to record the performances on video, but I nevertheless want to give you a notion of what we experienced during the week. Below you will find music videos with some of the individual fadistas – although with other songs than the ones we heard and with two exceptions not at the fado houses where we met them. Nevertheless – enjoy!

Read also A Fado Experience – reflections from our first fado excursion. 

 

 

More

Joana Amendoeira: Eu Quis Demais

Sérgio da Silva: Canto o Fado

Joana Melo: Fado Mayer

André Vaz: Maria da Madragoa

Cláudia Duarte: Sou do Fado/Fado Loucura

Cláudia Duarte: Fado em cinco estilos

João Soeiro: Da janela do meu quarto

Ana Sofia Varela: Fado Cravo – Dá-me O Braço Anda Daí

Pedro Moutinho: Fado Um Copo de Sol

Pedro Moutinho: Leva-me Contigo

Ana Laíns – Quatro Caminhos

Ana Laíns – Não sei porque te foste embora

 

Carminho

Image source: My Corner Kiosk

Maria do Carmo Carvalho Rebelo de Andrade was born in Lisbon in 1984. As a child and teenager she spent lots of time in her mother’s fado house, listening to and learning from her mother and other fadistas and guitaristas who performed there. Eventually Carmo started to sing fado herself, and now she is one of maybe four fadistas who usually are mentioned in discussions on who the best female fadista is today. Many see her as the most interesting interpreter in the new generation of fadistas. Carmo is better known as “Carminho” and her mother is Teresa Siqueira.

Carminho’s first solo album Fado was released 2009, and was a huge success. Since then she has released two more albums with a base in fado – Alma (2012) and Canto (2014). Carminho is of course famous in Portugal, but she has also conquered the fado loving part of the world. However, she has over the years also tried other genres, and she is often referred to as a “crossover artist”. In the world of fado, where tradition is important, this is not always looked upon with approval.

Other renowned fadistas have tried to sing jazz and other genres, but it has not always been a successful venture. Often they cannot compete in terms of a pure genre expression and they do not find a fruitful way to utilize their fado character in other genres. Some singers are from the beginning in between genres, which means that they do not have a strong fado expression in the first place.

Carminho is unique in this respect. She has in my view a very strong fado expression and she interprets the traditional fado songs as a true fadista. You can experience this in some of the music videos below. But Carminho can also sing in other genres in a beautiful way. She knows how to use her fado expression within those other genres, and she thereby creates something unique and completely new – like on her latest album with music by Antônio Carlos Jobim. (Carminho Canta Tom Jobim, 2016) Her expressive and modelling way of singing, strong and yet gentle as the long waves of the ocean, rests in a beautiful way in the light Brazilian accompaniment by Banda Nova. Three out of the four members were once members of the original Banda Nova which played with Tom Jobim. It doesn’t get any better than this. It is just beautiful!

Another example of Carminho’s singing within other genres is her collaboration with Brazilian Marisa Monte. Marisa Monte is also a beautiful singer, but two beautiful singers do not guarantee that the combined expression will be beautiful. Duets can be problematic. But the voices and expressions of Carminho and Marisa form a very nice combination, and you can sense that they also have a good time together. Among the music videos below there are a few duets with Carminho and Marisa Monte. Unfortunately, in two of these the technical quality of the recordings is poor. However, I want to include those anyway since they illustrate the beauty of meetings between the Portuguese and Brazilian music cultures. Carminho and Marisa interpret in turns the fado song Saudades do Brasil em Portugal and the Brazilian Dança da Solidão (Desilusão) with their own cultural music accents.

Of course I hope that Carminho will continue to sing fado with her beautiful and strong fado expression – sincere, emotional and with “sand in her voice” as a Portuguese friend of mine put it. But I am also very expectant to everything that Carminho can do in the future within other genres. So far she has been spot on in whatever she has tried. Her voice and expression lend themselves easily to different styles, but her fado voice is always present as a base and essential ingredient.

I am not Portuguese, but as many I have come to love fado in spite of that fact. I do not even understand the Portuguese language, but I do understand that the poems of fado are important. I have to rely on the fact that the fadistas understand what they are singing about, and that their understanding colours their expression. The expression is the way to my emotional understanding and appreciation of fado. What is said above about the fado expression should be interpreted from this fact. Carminho communicates strongly with my emotions.

The videos below show emotions of pain and joy, musical friendship and professionality. Carminho’s expression, musicality and slightly hoarse fado voice alongside with her beautiful companion musicians make her music irresistible.

 

More:

Bom Dia, Amor

A Bia Da Mouraria

Meu Amor Marinheiro

Disse-te Adeus

Escrevi Teu Nome no Vento ao Museu do Fado

Lágrimas do Céu

Uma Vida Noutra Vida

Andorinha

Perdóname (Duet with Pablo Alborán)

Cais (Duet with Milton Nascimento)

Carolina (Duet with Chico Buarque)

Chuva no Mar (Duet with Marisa Monte)

Saudades do Brasil em Portugal (Duet with Marisa Monte)

Dança da Solidão / Desilusão (Duet with Marisa Monte)

 

Carminho Canta Tom Jobim

Estrada do Sol (Duet with Marisa Monte)

A Felicidade

Wave

Sabiá

Triste

 

Lucy Woodward and Aarhus Jazz Festival

Aarhus July 18-20, 2017

How do you enjoy a jazz festival – or any type of festival for that matter? I guess different individuals with different personalities have their different preferences and strategies, and I have mine. Although there usually is an enormous supply of music listening opportunities at a jazz festival I go for selectiveness. Not because there is only a few good musicians there – that is never the fact – but because I have my limits in terms of enjoying music. An important part of my enjoyment takes place in my memories and remaining feelings after the concerts – and too many concerts blur my memory and my feelings. A multitude of concerts (including the ones I pass by on the street) therefor diminish my experience of each one of the concerts.

The reason why I go to a specific festival is normally that an artist who is special to me will perform there. The first time we went to Molde Jazz Festival in Norway was because of Melody Gardot, who was new to Scandinavians by the time. The second time in Molde our main attraction was Kurt Elling. We went to Ystad Jazz Festival when Hiromi Uehara performed in Sweden for the first time, and to Stuttgart and Juan-les-Pins because of Diana Krall, etc. Once at the festival we of course enjoy some other musicians as well, but only a few.

The reason we decided to come to Aarhus Jazz Festival in Denmark this year was Lucy Woodward. I discovered Lucy on YouTube in February 2014 and I have told the story about this very personal, all-round and truly professional singer before at Musik.pm. It is also a story of how I unsuccessfully have tried to see her perform live several times. For the full story and some very nice music videos follow this link!

So when I learned that Lucy was coming to Aarhus, I wanted to give it a new try – and this time I was successful! My wife and I came to Aarhus on Tuesday 18 July, in good time to find our way around in Aarhus before Lucy’s concert the next day together with the TipToe Big Band, a band from Odense in Denmark. The collaboration is new, and I had not heard Lucy sing with a big jazz band before. Her collaboration with the funk-fusion band Snarky Puppy is not quite the same. But I thought that the dynamics of a big jazz band might suit Lucy´s temperament, expression and vocal resources very well.

And so it did! The concert was in my view a big success for the combination of the band and Lucy. I loved the forceful and swinging music they executed together. Although already being all round musicians they both probably added new dimensions to their usual expressions. If Lucy wants to carry on with this type of collaborations, the big bands can queue up.


The day we arrived in Aarhus we enjoyed another beautiful concert. We have listened a lot to Madeleine Peyroux at home, but this was the first time we saw her live. The experience was something quite different from a big band concert. Madeleine’s voice and guitar was accompanied only by another guitar and a bass – Jon Herington on electric guitar and Barak Mori on upright bass – and in a few songs also by the two musicians’ backing up vocals. The concert was beautiful and very low key. (However, Madeleine’s views on politics were not low-key.)

And then we experienced Lars Jansson Trio in a very enjoyable performance – Lars on piano, Peter Vuust on bass and Lars’ son Paul Svanberg on drums. The only problem with that concert was that it came to an end far too quickly. Not because the concert was short – it was standard format – rather it was so pleasant that you did not notice time. The music was beautiful in a relaxed way, and Lars Jansson is a fun person full of positive charisma and humour on stage.

So we visited three very different concerts, all three very enjoyable, and that was it. After all, we only stayed two days. I am sure most visitors stayed longer (or live in Aarhus), and enjoyed many more concerts. As music lovers we have different agendas, preferences, capacities and strategies.

If you go to a jazz festival you usually stay a couple of days or maybe a full week. This means that there has to be something more than music to enjoy, not least if you want to be selective in your attendance of concerts. Aarhus is indeed a very nice city to host a festival. Big enough to have lots of nice restaurants and pubs, good hotels, nice parks and shops – but small enough to give a feeling of nearness and intimacy. The venues are located close to the centre of the city, which means that you can cover most of them strolling around on a nice summer evening walk. During the festival week the festival colours the feeling of the city, but it does not dominate it. Ordinary city life and the festival co-exist in harmony and with a very nice balance. We fully enjoyed our days in Aarhus!

Found Lucy at last – at Aarhus Jazz Festival!

 

La Màgia de la Veu & Jazz Ensemble

 

Image from Jazz to Jazz

 

The band La Màgia de la Veu & Jazz Ensemble comes from, and is still related to, the youth band Sant Andreu Jazz Band. Both are led by the musical magician Joan Chamorro, and members perform in both constellations.

I found Sant Andreu Jazz Band through a video on YouTube in September 2016. I have since then introduced the band on Musik.pm twice – last time after having experienced a lovely performance by Sant Andreu Jazz Band in Premià de Mar, a small town close to Barcelona. In these introductions I have linked to a number of YouTube videos with both constellations. But La Màgia de la Veu & Jazz Ensemble deserves a post of its own. This is it!

In the beginning I saw the constellation as a group of senior, but still young, band members from Sant Andreu Jazz Band (La Màgia de la Veu) playing together with the Joan Chamorro Quartet (Jazz Ensemble), but after having enjoyed the band for a while I acknowledge that they should be looked upon as one band – the band La Màgia de la Veu & Jazz Ensemble. You could not imagine the band without the young members from Sant Andreu Jazz Band or the experienced musician from the Joan Chamorro Quartet. They unite in their love of music and their joy of playing and singing together – for us to enjoy.

The way the young female members take turns as vocal front figures and backing up singers and instrumentalists is very nice – and impressive. They sing excellent and play several instruments. Since the four young man of the band are not featured as vocalists they do not get in the spot light as much as the girls, but they are of course qualified musicians and they are very important to the expression and energy of the band – like the experienced musicians from the Joan Chamorro Quartet are.

La Màgia de la Veu & Jazz Ensemble performed last night (July 7) in Premià de Mar, and of course I would very much have liked to be there. I am convinced that the lucky ones who managed to get tickets to the performance had a great night, just like I had with the Sant Andreu Jazz band in April 21. I compensate myself, and all others who were not there, by providing links to YouTube videos where the band perform all songs (but the last) from the beautiful album Joan Chamorro presents La Màgia de la Veu & Jazz Ensemble.

Members
Joan Chamorro double bass and leader, Andrea Motis sax, trumpet and vocals, Rita Payés trombone and vocals, Alba Armengou sax, trumpet and vocals, Alba Esteban vocals, saxes and clarinet, Elia Bastida vocals, violin and tenor sax, Abril Saurí vocals and trumpet, Joan Mar Sauqué trumpet and trombone, Joan Codina trombone, Joan Martí saxes and flute, Marçal Perramon clarinet and saxes, Josep Traver guitars, Ignasi Terraza piano, Esteve Pi drums

Read also my earlier posts about Sant Andreu Jazz Band:
Sant Andreu Jazz Band
Sant Andreu Jazz Band live

 

More:

Stardust

Baião de Quatro Toques

I Got Rhythm

Por Toda a Minha Vida

I Cried For You

Skylark

Triste

I Like To Hear It Sometimes

My Funny Valentine

Sister Sadie

 

Angie Wells

Photo from sourtieOuest

Paris May 17, 2017

Angie Wells is a wonderful American jazz vocalist, who recently has released her first album, Love and Mischief. We found each other on Facebook last August, and met for the first time in Paris May 17. My wife and I came to Paris to enjoy and cover another artist (which we did), but during the planning of the trip I learned that Angie was going to perform at Chez Papa Jazz Club & Restaurant on our arriving day. We changed our hotel booking to a hotel nearby, and managed to arrive at the restaurant a few minutes into Angie’s first set.

Walking into Chez Papa we see her sitting on a bar stool by the grand piano in a stunning red dress, enjoying the piano solo of the song. She pays attention to what happens in the place, and when we pass by she recognises me from Facebook and waves happily to us. And in between songs she later introduces us to the other guests in the restaurant. This is a kind of reception I am not used to, and I suspect few are!

Angie’s first album has received some very good reviews, and you can find some of them on Angie’s web site. Her alto voice and singing style is praised, and critics say that this is a very promising debut.

”This terrific debut release features an impressive range of styles on a mix of covers (some well-known, some less so) and original tunes. Wells’ voice is warm & pleasing.”

”She sings with expressive conviction.”

”She has her own unique sound and style.”

I cannot but agree. For me, I especially like the two original songs of the album – the ballad The Moon Is Swinging on a Line by Raphael Lemonnier, Mathis Haug and Angie Wells, and the blues She Ain’t the Kinda girl by Wells and Lemonnier. We have listened to the album a number of times at home, and now we are here to listen to Angie live for the first time – today together with the French pianist Philippe Duchemin, who during the night proves to be a very good match with Angie’s voice and expression.

Angie does not disappoint us. On the contrary, what is said in the reviews about her singing on the album does show even more at this live performance. And a live performance also lets her add pleasant small talk and a beautiful outfit to her singing. Angie takes it seriously to be an entertainer, with a platform in jazz. She is a lady who combines hard work with a happy flavour of glamour.

In the break between the two first sets Angie comes to our table to talk to us, but not only to us. During the two breaks during the night I believe she tries to cover every table in the place and she talks to almost everyone. She does not actually take a break herself from the beginning of the first set to the end of the third and last set. She performs or talks to people.

This little story tells a lot about Angie and her personality. She likes people. Of course you can say that making contacts and talking to people is part of her work, but every artist doesn’t see it like that. And you can see that socializing comes natural to Angie. In spite of the stunning dress, Angie is not a diva.

We have a nice meal and of course we stay through all three sets. Angie singing ballads, swing and blues accompanied by Philippe Duchemin is a real treat. In a year or two we might not be able to enjoy Angie’s music in this kind of small places any longer, so we are happy we were in time to do that. Before we leave the club for the night we decide with Angie to meet for coffee and a talk next morning.

And so we do. During a long coffee session we learn a lot about Angie. When I in the end of our conversation ask Angie what she particularly would like to see in the text I am going to write, she points out her varied background. She does not point out that she is outstanding in this or that – it is the varied background she wants to highlight.

And she really has a varied background. Angie comes from Philadelphia where she in high school took a major in science. In college she continued with science for two years, and then took a business degree. During college Angie was working as a corporate trainer, but shortly after graduation the company downsized and she lost her job.

Angie’s father had a barber shop, and maybe that is one reason why she is also interested in makeup. She went to cosmetology school and became a hairdresser, and worked as such in Philadelphia for some years. Eventually she moved to Los Angeles and attended a makeup school to become a professional makeup artist. Then she started to work as a makeup artist in Hollywood.

During this time Angie visited a friend in Paris (2006), and one night they went to Chez Papa. The friend told the people in the restaurant that Angie was an American jazz vocalist, and that she could sing with the band that played there that night. Well, Angie liked singing but she was not the established vocalist that her friend’s recommendation implied. But Angie was offered to sing a song, which became three songs, and her performance was appreciated. But that was that, and the next week she went home.

Well at home she wanted to give singing a chance and started to take singing lessons. Those were interrupted for a short while when she had her baby. When her son was six months old Angie made a demo with Bill Cunliffe on piano, Tom Warrington on base and Joe LaBarbera on drums – three established musicians. The songs were When Sunny Gets Blue, The Man I Love and Too Close for Comfort. She distributed the demo and clubs started to book her.

Cover image of Love and Mischief

And now we are at present time. Angie has released her first album on her own label, and she tours in France with French musicians. The appreciation she received at her unplanned debut at Chez Papa is spreading in France. So she comes here once in a while to sing. And she of course also sings at clubs in the US.

But she keeps her job in Hollywood as a makeup artist, and works as such six months a year. The job is a union job, gives pension, and in general provides good conditions. It also gives her the freedom to devote herself to music the rest of the year. But this combination is not only a way to raise the money needed to invest in her music career. Angie likes to combine tasks on both sides of show business – the performing side and the supporting side, and she likes her work as a make-up artist. This interest also shows in the way she profiles herself on stage and photos. (Have a look at the cover of Love and Mischief and other photos on her web site!)

It will be interesting to follow Angie in the years to come. If my prophecy will come true she might at one point have to reconsider her combination of careers. But if that happens I am sure that Angie with her drive and creativity will find a new interesting way to combine her interests. I will certainly follow what happens with great interest!

 

 

 

 

So far there are only a few videos with Angie Wells on YouTube, but you can listen to Love and Mischief on Spotify and other streaming services. Or you can, of course, buy the album.

 

 

Alone with Keren Ann

Source: Bandsintown

Paris May 18, 2017

We are on our way to Théâtre des étoiles in Paris. There, the singer-songwriter Keren Ann will perform on her own in a concert called One night alone with Keren Ann. It’s Keren Ann and her guitar, nothing more.

I found Keren Ann last year. The French found her fifteen years earlier, which tells something about the separation of music cultures. Now we have a warm relation to Keren Ann and her music. She has been sort of a “family member” for a year, represented at our dinner table by her music. Music is an important part of our dinners, and since the day we found Keren Ann she has been our regular music guest. Now we look forward to see her in real life, singing the songs we have come to love. We plan to come back tomorrow, since we have tickets also to the next day’s extra concert.

Les Étoiles is a small venue and today’s event is a standing concert. We enter, buy drinks, and stay by the bar to have something to lean on. Soon les Étoiles is full, and after a while Keren Ann enters the stage with her guitar. No one introduces her. She just enters quietly. Keren Ann has been with us intensively for one year, but only through speakers and behind screens. To see her in real life is almost unreal. And without any spoken words she begins her first song.

The guitar she uses is an electric one. The way she plays it does not contribute to the soft side of her music. On the contrary, the strong and sometimes forceful electric sounds stand out in sharp contrast to the soft guitar from her early career. At first I am a little bit disappointed, but after some time I acknowledge that this is an alley which Keren Ann wants to explore, and then I want to follow her. I trust her and she seems so much to enjoy what she is doing. Her usual shy expression is still there, but it is mingled with happiness for the strong music she is making.

Even though she often uses the rough and loud possibilities of the electric guitar, she uses them with discernment to emphasize certain passages of the songs. She is alone on stage, and she sculptures the songs only with her voice and the guitar. It is a very special experience.

Maybe half way into the concert she changes to her acoustic guitar, and thereby to her softer expression. But there is something that is different. At first I cannot put my finger on it, but when she sings her old songs I realise that the way she sings nowadays is different from the way she sang early in her career. The concert experience makes this very clear. On her first albums one could say that part of the soft melancholy she created came from her singing style that sometimes was close to talking. It created an extra dimension of seriousness and intimacy. Now the singing/talking style is gone, and Keren Ann sings with a clear and beautiful voice in a more melodic way.  The beauty of her old melodies gets even more accentuated with her singing them this way. And the live performance adds strength and warmth to the expression. There is strength in her voice even in the old soft ballads, and I come to think that the difference between the expressions is the difference between a young woman and a more mature woman.

The title of the concert, One night alone with Keren Ann, refers to the fact that Keren Ann is alone on the stage. But I suppose that the choice of title also is supposed to convey the meaning that each and every individual in the audience will be alone with Keren Ann. A play with words and meanings. But in the soft parts of the concert this is actually what happens. I have never before experienced an artist who so genuinely can relate to each and every one in an audience. I can feel it myself, and I can see it in the serious and open expressions of the faces around me, fully concentrated on Keren Ann not to miss anything. The relation is created by the qualities of the songs and by Keren Ann’s serious and low-key personality. You can trust and relate to a person who gives you all those things that Keren Ann gives you, without being intrusive or self-obsessed.

Before the end of the concert Keren Ann turns back to the electric guitar, but the acoustic guitar returns in the encores. After four encores she finishes with a beautiful a capella song – only her voice and no guitar. We get even closer to Keren Ann, and to each other.

The concert is over, but my wife and I will return to a “full concert encore” tomorrow. And when we come home we will listen to Keren Ann’s albums with the new feeling of actually having met our regular dinner guest in real life. And we sense that we now know her a little bit better.

Read also my introductory post about Keren Ann from 8 June, 2016.

Below is a sample of Keren Ann videos, available on YouTube. Gathering them I realise how much I appreciate Keren Ann and her music.

Jardin d’hiver

Au coin du monde

Le sable mouvant

La corde et les chaussons

Surannée

Ailleurs

L’Illusionniste

Not Going Anywhere

End of May

Sit in the Sun

Que n’ai-je?

La forme et le fond

It Ain´t No Crime / In Your Back

Where No Endings End

My Name Is Trouble

All The Beautiful Girls 

Where Did You Go?

You’re Gonna Get Love

Sant Andreu Jazz Band live

Photo by Åsa Kettis

Premià de Mar April 21, 2017

It is a special experience to enjoy the performance of musicians at their home base. We are tonight in Premià de Mar to do exactly that. We will attend the concert of the youth band Sant Andreu Jazz Band.

Premià de Mar is a small town half an hour train ride from Barcelona, and on the way there you pass Sant Andreu. The performance tonight will take place in Sala Gran at Teatre L’Amistat in the new local culture centre L’Amistat de Premià de Mar. Sala Gran has 268 seats. Since I am in the company of my wife and six Swedish friends, this leaves 260 seats for the locals. Some of them are probably relatives or friends of band members. I bought the tickets very early so we have excellent seats in the middle of row 4. Doesn’t this sound like a perfect setting?

Well, maybe not if the band would have been an ordinary local school band. Then maybe you have to be a close relative or friend to come and enjoy the performance. But Sant Andreu Jazz Band is not an ordinary school band. It started from a music class, and now it is the base in an independant music project with young musicians performing on a very high level, led by Joan Chamorro.

I found the band through a clip on YouTube in September 2016. On the very first clip that I saw, the band member Andrea Motis was singing In My Solitude, backed up by the Joan Chamorro Quartet and Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès. I was astonished. She was so young and had the expression of youth, but she was nevertheless so sophisticated. The setting was grand like a jazz ballad performed by Diana Krall backed up by her usual jazz group and a string orchestra. And like Diana Krall this young lady proved to be not only a vocalist. She also played a solo on trumpet.

I soon found out that Andrea Motis was a member of Joan Chamorro’s creation the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, a big band with children and teenagers playing music with emphasis on a classic jazz repertoire with lots of swing. After this discovery I enjoyed the band many times on YouTube. They have made an effort of publishing a lot of clips with sound and picture of as high quality as the music itself.

The band has many vocalists and like Andrea they also play an instrument, sometimes two. The members often change roles in the band. Sometimes you are the front figure as vocalist/instrumentalist, sometimes you sit in the band backing up other band members who are the front figures in those songs. And several members also play more than one instrument.

In this way the band really works as a school where everybody is supposed to have his or her chance, but the band uses this modus operandi and still keeps up an exceptional quality. This is not to say that everyone in every way and all the time performs at a high professional level. But the quality of the band as a whole is exceptionally high, and together with the charm of youth the band is irresistible. You just have to love them.

Another feature of the general concept is that the band, or parts of the band, sometimes play together with professional musicians – often the Joan Chamorro Quartet. This is a really good concept, and it mixes the educational side of playing together with having fun together. The latter goes for both band members and experienced musicians, as you can see in the clips below. Some senior band members have been featured as La Màgia de la Veu” (The Magic of the Voice) and they often play and sing together with the Joan Chamorro Quartet under the name La Magia de la Veu & Jazz Ensemble. Again, the way they take turns as vocal front figures and backing up musicians is very nice – and impressive.

The clips that can be seen on YouTube originate from different phases of the band history, and you can thereby see the band members grow and develop as human beings and musicians. This is in itself a joy to experience, and in watching them mature you sort of adopt the identity of a distant relative to the band members.

Well, what happened in Premià de Mar? We arrived there an hour before the concert started. We passed the time in a small market place close to the church, where two bars served drinks and children ran around and played. When it was time for the concert we walked in the middle of the peaceful street (no cars passed) the short way back to Teatre L’Amistat. It all was a truly and lovely experience of local life, not an experience that you would expect when you are to attend a concert with a band who has become an international Internet phenomenon through YouTube and social media.

The concert proved to be a wonderful performance by the band, led by Joan Chamorro. It was as good as the recordings I have seen, but a live performance of course creates a much closer relation between band and audience, especially when the hall is as small as the one in Teatre L’Amistat. Since many of the YouTube clips that I have enjoyed are several years old I found that there were some new members in the band, and that some of the old members did not participate. This is of course the natural evolution of a youth band, and it is nice to see that the band can keep up the high quality although it has to cope with regeneration. Of course Joan Chamorro is to be congratulated for the successful development of the band – but the band members themselves are also to be credited for the successful regeneration process. They are all part of a living and sustainable music culture that goes on and creates new experiences for us to enjoy. Their YouTube clips are of a very high quality, but if you ever have the possibility – go and see Sant Andreu Jazz Band live!

Thank you, Joan Chamorro!

Thank you band members, here represented by Rita Payés!

The clips below mirror many different contexts where the band or part of the band performs or rehearse, often together with professional musicians. In Premià de Mar the band performed on its own, led by Joan Chamorro.

More:

Wave

Mood Indigo

Minor Swing

Àguas De Março

All Of You

Desafinado

How High the Moon

So Danço Samba

Stars Fell on Alabama

(In My) Solitude

Summertime

West Coast Blues

Anthropology

Boperation

Baião de Quatro Toques

Sister Sadie

I Like To Hear It Sometimes

Triste

Por Toda a Minha Vida

My Funny Valentine

A very nice documentary about the band: Kids and Music, la Sant Andreu Jazz Band