By 1968, Norwegian jazz singer Karin Krog was already an international star. She had already won her country's most prestigious jazz award, the Buddy, had performed in the U.S. with Claire Fischer and Don Ellis, and had won a Talent Deserving Wider Recognition award in the 1966 Down Beat poll. She had also recorded three albums under her own name by this time. The recording of Joy with then-young lions Arild Andersen on bass, Svein (Jon) Christensen on drums, saxophonist Jan Garbarek, pianist Terje Bjorklund and percussionist Espen Rud signified a change in direction, from her previously straight swing and bop performance method. The set opens provocatively, even shockingly for the time with Annette Peacock's "Mr. Joy," a paean to a personal "toy" driven by Bjorklund's modal piano. The most groundbeaking cut here, "Karin's Song," is an improvisation guided by Garbarek, who had been a member of Krog's band since 1966. A vanguard piece that works on two juxtaposed modes, it features Bjorklund's piano offering thick layers of tonally stretched chords and Krog alternately scatting, growling, and moaning before and after Garbarek's thoroughly outside soloing. One who hears Garbarek's playing here will be shocked that this is the same person whose mannered playing graces so many ECM recordings from the 1970s into the 21st century. Garbarek and Bjorklund are absent on "'Round Midnight." The cut is led by Andersen's bass in duet with Palle Danielsson and accompanied only by Christensen's shimmering brushwork. Krog's singing is bluesy, icy cool, mysterious, and utterly original. The dual bass playing here is astonishing as counterpoint underscores every sung line elongating them in the process. "Maiden Voyage," by Herbie Hancock comes off as a swinging piece of jazz psychedelia with Garbarek doing his best Paul Desmond in the intro and Krog moaning to match his lines tonally, displaying fine control. The tune flows and changes shapes, aided by reverb on the voice while indulging fascination with Eastern modalities. The Garbarek solo is wonderful; alternating between dry, muted coolness and restrained out blowing before the crystalline lines of Bjorklund's piano shimmer through the center. This is a remarkable and timeless record, showcasing Krog's considerable gifts and the acumen of a great group of young jazz players.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek