Norwegian jazz singer Solveig Slettahjell, who has just released her latest album 'Good Rain', is rapidly becoming the darling of the British jazz press.
"She is very bright and very self-possessed. It's easy to see how she took herself from small-town vicar's daughter to the top academy in Oslo and the tutelage of Sidsel Endresen, the most eminent of all Norway's contemporary voices. And she has an easy way with her place in Norway's recent musical history, which, in jazz terms, is the most interesting in the world." says journalist Nick Coleman from the Independent in an article on 12 November about the singer.
In her native country, Slettahjell has for some time been considered one of its most celebrated jazz singers. After studying music at the Oslo Music Conservatoire she began her career in the early 1990s, mixing country, jazz standards and Norwegian folk songs, with the odd song by Prince or Tom Waits thrown in. Over time Solveig’s ambitions have developed considerably. In the vocal ensemble vonDrei and Kvitretten she has developed her own experimental style. A sort of onomatopoetic technique, in which she breaks up syllables and words, squeezing, extending, shortening and working them harmonically so as to create an unmistakable soundscape.
In the spring of 2005 she won the Spellemannsprisen, the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy, for her second album ‘Silver’. On ‘Pixiedust’, her debut album on ACT last year, Slettahjell worked the principal of slowness to perfection with the Slow Motion Quintet which includes Sjur Miljeteig on trumpet, Morten Qvenild on piano, Mats Eilertsen on bass and Per Oddvar Johansen on drums.
The Independent’s Coleman is hooked and writes: "Her band, the Slow Motion Quintet, is one of the wonders of the world. You can buy the (three) records, and they're very lovely, highly original, deeply felt. But what you need to do is see them play live. (...) They play a highly improvised, very slow music which aspires to leave more out than it keeps in. It's a music of cadence and space, impact and recess; as much gospel, soul, hymnody, folk and pop as it is jazz and blues and the stark surprises of free improvisation. (...) And Slettahjell's cottony mezzo is wide open and governed more by the imperatives of melodic shape and granular "feel" than by any of the decorative procedures which have come to define jazz singing as, above all, the art of style." Click here to read the article
Slettahjell’s latest album ‘Good Rain’, which is out in the UK now, has received rave reviews. The Guardian’s Dave Gelly wrote: “A cool and wistful voice, a penchant for hypnotic repetition and a band that provides delicate and atmospheric accompaniment, ranging from severe minimalism to restrained chaos. This is a strange and haunting album, only partly in the recognisable jazz idiom, but these definitions are getting increasingly slippery now. (…)With the rising status of Scandinavian jazz, we shall all have to learn how to pronounce these names, so start here: it's 'Sul-vey Shlet-i-yell' and she's touring Britain this week.” Click here to read the full review. sd
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