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Edith Van Den Heuvel & Frank Harrison - Beneath The Blue (2014)

5-03-2015, 22:45
Music | Jazz | Vocal Jazz

Edith Van Den Heuvel & Frank Harrison - Beneath The Blue (2014)

Artist: Edith Van Den Heuvel & Frank Harrison
Title Of Album: Beneath The Blue
Year Of Release: 2014
Genre: Jazz Vocals
Label: Magenta Hill Records
Format: MP3
Quality: 320 kbps, 44.1 Khz
Total Time: 44:49
Total Size: 105 Mb
Covers: Front

01. Answer Me, My Love (4:41)
02. Caravan (5:28)
03. Emily (4:18)
04. The Summer Knows (5:34)
05. Invitation (5:09)
06. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning (4:36)
07. Everybody's Song But My Own (5:25)
08. Lucky To Be Me (3:14)
09. Both Sides Now (6:20)

THE INTIMACY and openness of the vocal and piano duo concept requires creative focus, confidence and, above all, a deeply shared empathy with the music in order for it to succeed – no hiding place, yet a fascinatingly laid-bare opportunity to express, shape and personalise the nuances of well-crafted song.

Capturing that essence is a new collaboration between Dutch singer Edith van den Heuvel and British pianist Frank Harrison which sees them exploring and interpreting both familiar and lesser-known gems from the repertoire, recording a moment in time (across a couple of days in the studio) in an album which glistens with warmth and emotional sincerity. The vocal range and clear English annunciation of van den Heuvel are impressive, frequently with an appealing ‘woody’ timbre (not unlike June Tabor), and certainly well matched to Harrison’s highly-regarded pianistic sensitivity as he produces typically lush, complex and sometimes left-field chordal constructions. Indeed, rather than ‘singer with accompaniment’, this project is very much a mutual partnership.

Ushering-in the album’s predominant atmospheres, yearning opener Answer Me, My Love finds van den Heuvel reaching out with a considerable depth of expression, the lyrical pain in this 1950s number reflected beautifully by Harrison’s limpid, tenuto piano. The familiar, modulating animation of Duke Ellington standard Caravan takes on a different guise in an inventive, elaborate piano arrangement over which Edith’s voice resonates strongly and deeply, as well as displaying attractive inflections; and the popular Mandel/Mercer tune Emily (also recorded this year on Frank’s trio album Lunaris) waltzes to soft, innocent vocal and equally elegant piano which recalls its favour with Bill Evans.

Arguably the most haunting of Michel Legrand’s melodies, The Summer Knows – introduced here by Harrison’s subtle, solo extemporisations on its theme – is carried superbly by van den Heuvel, portraying it’s fragile major/minor melancholy so affectingly; in contrast, there’s an earnestness to the Kaper/Webster tune Invitation (from the ’50s movie of the same name), a particularly fine melding of piano and voice; and delicately full of longing, In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning magically suspends time.

Poignant in a year that jazz felt the loss of the great Kenny Wheeler, the characteristically modest, placid air of resignation in his ‘hit’ Everbody’s Song But My Own (words by Norma Winstone) is affectionally and lucidly conveyed. Cheerfully swinging Lucky To Be Me, from Leonard Bernstein’s On The Town, showcases Harrison’s ear for assured-though-engaging improvisation as van den Heuvel relaxes into its blithe demeanour; and finally, Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now is precise in its homage to one of Canada’s most revered songwriters, and affirms the enchantment of this particular musical twosome.

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