Monday, November 13, 2006

Two From Georgia, One From Norway

Whilst much of the day has been taken up with work, it has been the kind of work which is enhanced by some good music. Thus I embarked on a quest to discover a half-decent contemporary female jazz singer. Three contenders lined up on my Samsung MP3 Player courtesy of Napster : two from Georgia and one from Norway.

From Georgia, USA, comes Madeleine Peyroux with her new CD "Half The Perfect World". Technically good, polished, easy on the ear but a little too much Patsy Cline and not quite enough Billie Holiday. Jazz singers have to walk a precarious line between being too challenging and being too banal - Madeleine takes a safe course. From Georgia (formerly the USSR) via Belfast, Northern Ireland comes Katie Melua and her new CD "Piece By Piece", When I had the Samsung on shuffle I sometimes had trouble working out which was Madeleine and which was Katie and that says something about the course they both steer. Again it is pleasant, comfortable, safe. And from Norway came Solveig Slettahjell - by way of a Guardian review - and her recent CD called Pixiedust. Now she takes a different course - certainly more adventurous but I'm not sure if it is more challenging. Backed by the aptly-named "Slow Motion Quintet" she, at times, reminds you of an old wind-up record player which is just beginning to wind down. But whilst Madeleine Peyroux has hints of lazy drawl, Solveig Slettahjell is all Ice Queen and very much in the mould of 21st century Scandinavian jazz. At the end of the day (quite literally) no winner emerged. They are three CDs which I will keep on the player for a while but which, I suspect, will gradually fade away. The search, therefore, continues.

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