NEW CONNIE EVINGSON CD STOCKHOLM SWEETNIN' -
DUE July '06
"I like being musically surprised. Connie's albums are
always surprisingly different and expectedly
— Michael Bourne, "Singers
(WBGO, Newark and wbgo.org)
Vocalist Connie Evingson is known for taking divergent musical paths. Her eclectic catalog of recordings for Minnehaha Music covers such varied themes as Peggy Lee, the Beatles, jazz elders, and most recently "hot club" music a la Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli (Gypsy in My Soul, '04). But rather than taking another divergent turn, Connie's continuing love affair with gypsy jazz and a chance meeting with a young hot club group from Sweden inspired her to delve deeper into the Django style before moving in another direction. "I had already planned my next project (a collection of Dave Frishberg tunes, with Frishberg at the piano)," says Evingson, "but when I heard The Hot Club of Sweden, I realized I wasn't done exploring the gypsy jazz genre."
With only email for introductions and planning, Connie and The Hot Club of Sweden met at Real Music Studios in Stockholm in January, 2006 and recorded 15 tunes in 2 1/2 days. "The recording process was magic," she said later. "It's the most enjoyable time I've ever had in the studio." And the result, Stockholm Sweetnin,' is both stunning and uniquely Connie. Hot Club of Sweden guitarists Gustav Lundgren and Andreas Oberg and bassist Hampus Lundgren form the core rhythm section, with brilliant solo turns by each player. Guest artists from both sides of the Atlantic add their unique voices on saxophone, clarinet, accordion and percussion, but the most distinctive voice belongs to Connie, as vocalist, arranger, and lyricist (on Oberg's "Autumn in Kokkola"). Who but Connie Evingson would imagine the hot club potential of the Quincy Jones/Jon Hendricks gem, "Stockholm Sweetnin'," Abbey Lincoln's "Throw it Away" or Michel Legrand's "Windmills of Your Mind"?
"Her performances carry the aroma of red wine and filterless cigarettes, sensual, slightly decadent, and thoroughly wonderful."
— C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
Of the fifteen tracks that fill Stockholm Sweetnin', six are familiar hot club repertoire. "If I Had You,"
"I Can't Give You Anything But Love," and "Out of Nowhere" were often performed by Django himself; Ellington, a Django favorite, is beautifully represented by "In a Sentimental Mood," while another ballad, "Lover Man," features young Swedish saxman Fredrik Lindborg. "After You've Gone" puts the spotlight on Minnesota clarinetist, Tony Baluff. Connie offers the rarely heard lyrics of Count Basie and Eddie Durham's "Swingin' the Blues," a tune she says she learned as a child from the Lambert, Hendricks and Ross record, Sing a Song of Basie .
Enriched by translation to gypsy swing, Quincy Jones'
"Stockholm Sweetnin'" (with lyrics by Jon
Hendricks) bursts with slick guitar licks. The '40s
classic "Comes Love," with the sultry addition
of Baluff's clarinet, also benefits from its first hot
club rendition. Dan Chouinard's accordion and Connie's
clear articulation are essential to the success of
Legrand's "Windmills of My Mind" in its hot
club debut, performed here as a French
"musette". Perhaps the most unusual choice for
this collection is Abbey Lincoln's "Throw It
Away," less dark in this style than its usual
presentation and highlighting the talented percussion of
Two tracks display Connie Evingson's talents as a
multi-lingual artist. "Besame Mucho," sung in
Spanish, more often played as a hot club instrumental,
breathes Latin color and charm, thanks in part to Joan
Griffith's introduction on Spanish acoustic guitar.
"Si Tu Savais" by Georges Ulmer is another
popular hot club instrumental given new life through
Connie's vocals, this time in French, transporting the
listener to a small Paris café. The closing track is the
beautiful original (music by Oberg, lyrics by Evingson),
"Autumn in Kokkola," evoking a coastal town in
Finland where bonfires and lanterns mark the end of
summer. The song so capitivated the citizens of Kokkola that Evingson
was invited for a special performance at the city's annual festival,
Venetsialaiset in Aug., 2006.
Connie owes her predilection for exploring diverse musical roots to the early influence of her father's jazz record collection and the musical icons of her own generation (the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Sting, Bonnie Raitt, etc.). In the late '80s and '90s, Connie toured the world with the vocal quartet, Moore By Four, often opening for artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, Joe Williams and Sarah Vaughan. In the past decade, her six CDs on Minnehaha Music have brought worldwide attention to her talents as a singer, arranger, and lyricist. With her three most recent releases charting on Jazzweek's Top 50 for eight weeks each (Gypsy in My Soul reaching #8) and a nomination for JazzWeek Vocalist of the Year in 2005, Evingson has become well-known in jazz radio circles as an artist who takes her listeners down new musical avenues. So don't assume Connie Evingson will be content with "gypsy fever." That Dave Frishberg project wasn't shelved. It's due for release later this year.
"This collection makes me proud to be from Minneapolis! I can't put this lovely album away -
I play it all the way through at least once every day...["Stockholm Sweetnin' "] is high quality
popular music that is both entertaining and intelligent!!
— Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer and Producer