Over the years, many different subjects have been debated in the jazz world. One of them has to do with whether or not someone who grows up speaking a language other than English can be an effective jazz vocalist -- some argue that only those who grow up in English-speaking countries should sing jazz. But truth be told, there are plenty of European vocalists who grew up speaking Swedish, German, Italian, Dutch, or French and have no problem singing jazz in excellent English (a language that many Europeans learn to speak fluently at an early age). Although Karin Krog was born in Oslo and grew up in a country where Norwegian is the primary language, she is a shining example of how effectively a Scandinavian vocalist can sing English-language jazz. Raindrops, Raindrops, a best-of CD that spans 1966-1985, paints a consistently attractive picture of Krog's artistry. Assembled by a German label called Crippled Dick Hot Wax, this collection shows Krog to be an adventurous, risk-taking improviser who brings an intriguing variety of influences to the table -- Sheila Jordan, Betty Carter, and Jeanne Lee have affected her work, but so have less abstract vocalists like Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington. Krog favors an inside/outside approach (usually more inside than outside), and the Norwegian improviser is as convincing on Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" as she is on Michel Legrand's "I'll Wait for You" and Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight." The latter is a most pleasant surprise; instead of embracing the famous Bernie Hanighen lyrics, Krog unearths a lesser-known set of lyrics that Babs Gonzales recorded in 1956. Raindrops, Raindrops isn't the last word on Krog's contributions to vocal jazz, but for novices, it would be an excellent starting point.
Raindrops, Raindrops Review
by Alex Henderson