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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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CĘCILIE NORBY
AND LARS DANIELSSON

Just The Two Of Us

ACT 9732-2

 

 

  1. Both Sides Now

  2. Double Dance

  3. Liberetto Cantabile

  4. Sad Sunday

  5. Cherry Tree

  6. And It's Supposed To Be Love

  7. Wild Juju Child

  8. Toccata

  9. Wondrous Story

  10. Wholly Earth

  11. Sarabande

  12. Ghost Lullabye

  13. Hallelujah


Cęcilie Norby - Vocals, percussion, sansula (track 9), udu (track 10)

Lars Danielsson - Bass, cello, guitar, marimba (track 6), percussion (track 7)


Cęcilie Norby holds the distinction of having been the first Scandinavian singer to be signed by the famous Blue Note record label (she recorded four albums for them). She made her ACT debut, however, in 2011 with the Arabesque CD where, for instance, she provided lyrics for (and sang) pieces by classical composers such as Satie or Ravel. Although Norby came from classical stock (her father was a composer, her mother an opera singer) her musical roots initially seem to have been in jazz-funk and pop music. She is now an extremely accomplished jazz singer with a distinctive and engaging vocal style. She is joined on this album by her husband, Swedish-born bassist, cellist, composer and arranger Lars Danielsson who has a distinguished reputation of his own, working with a number of fine musicians over the years and fronting his own long-established quartet and trio on numerous occasions. He first accompanied Cęcilie back in the mid-1990s so their musical collaboration is fine-tuned.

There are some outstanding tracks on this album. There is, for instance, an inventive version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, not easy with material that can sound hackneyed in the wrong hands. Liberetto Cantabile, a composition by Danielsson with lyrics by Norby, is a splendid piece of writing all round, a kind of rueful ecological hymn (listen to it and you'll see what I mean). This is not the only track with a challenging social message. Abbey Lincoln's And It's Supposed To Be Love is another. This time the vocal is delivered in (almost) sultry, certainly languorous, fashion with cello then bass accompaniment from Danielsson. As with Liberetto Cantabile, it's taking days to get this rendition out of my head. Toccata, another collaborative effort by this talented couple, features a Bach-like arrangement. Sarabande is a Danielsson original which, briefly, showcases his gift for melody as well as his lyrical playing. Cherry Tree proves to be another winner, guitar and voice blending well, reminding me, for some obscure reason, of Norah Jones' hit Don't Know Why. This is not to suggest that Norby's vocal range is in any way limited. She can turn on the power where required (and scats on a couple of tracks, too). She is, in fact, the real deal. And whatever instrument Lars Danielsson is playing, he is nothing short of superlative. Speaking of instruments, the marimba (a percussion instrument), the udu (a water jug with an additional hole) and the sansula (thumb piano) can all be found on this disc. We live and learn!

This is an impressive album from a multi-talented duo. Together, they have demonstrated that Just The Two Of Us is more than enough to produce a highly satisfying listening experience.

James Poore



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