Susanne Abbuehl

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April Review

by Glenn Astarita

Switzerland-born singer Susanne Abbuehl studied with the influential vocalist Jeanne Lee (1939-2000) while attending the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, amidst her wholehearted interest in North Indian classical music. On her first release for ECM, Abbuehl and her fellow European musicians render an often thought-provoking program, augmented by the infamous "ECM aesthetic." However, the thrust of this outing emanates from the vocalist's incorporation of e.e. cummings' poems set to her music, while she appoints lyrics to a few Carla Bley compositions. Abbuehl possesses enticingly affectionate vocal attributes coupled with her soft incantations and atmospheric means of spinning a tale. Clarinetist Christof May serves as a near perfect foil for Abbuehl, as he frequently contrasts the singer's animated lyrical approach and tenderly stated choruses. The band utilizes punctuated rhythms and space as means for regenerating subtly executed micro-themes to coincide with these rather introspectively enacted works. A sense of fragility permeates this exquisite outing, as the artists' elegantly devised methodologies might be analogous to witnessing an oil painter applying strokes to a canvas. Simply stated, Abbuehl and associates have provided the modern jazz world with a picturesque soundscape, awash with articulately executed mosaics, that tends to impart a lasting impression. Recommended.

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