Bergen Big Band/Karin Krog, Seagull
Friday June 16, 2006
Buy Seagull now
Norwegian singer Karin Krog bunked off school to catch Billie Holiday singing in Oslo - her work developed as a mix of Holiday's timing and restraint, and something of Scottish singer Annie Ross's insouciant agility.
This is one of a set of three Krog releases on the Grappa label, with another (Sweet Talker) being a compilation from more than 40 years of her work. British saxophonist/composer John Surman directs and solos over the immaculate Bergen Big Band - an ensemble packed with woodwind variety and one-touch rhythm-section empathy. A few orthodox swingers and Latin-groovers sit a little uneasily with more intimate pieces, and the affecting original material she and Surman generate together. But when the textures of this orchestra blossom - as on UK-based John Warren's beautiful Gil Evans-ish arrangement of Lament, and the misty trumpet-led overture to Krog's skating melodies and Surman's soprano sax on the title track - all the ingredients balance. The late, great Don Ellis gets a visit through his spooky arrangement of Angel Eyes.