When Did You Leave Heaven

COMPOSERS: Gershwin,Porter,Strayhorn et al
LABELS: RCA Victor
ALBUM TITLE: Lisa Ekdahl
PERFORMER: Lisa Ekdahl (v), Peter Nordahl (p), Ronny Gardiner (d), Patrick Boman (b)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 56266 2

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Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves, Stacey Kent, Norma Winstone, Tina May, Madeleine Peyroux – the CD racks are full of wonderful women singers all of a sudden, most of them revisiting the Great American Songbook. Swede Lisa Ekdahl (aged 27) is the latest to throw her hat into the ring with this collection of comfy standards from Gershwin, Porter, Strayhorn et al. Her approach is unusual though not original – the helium-powered, faux coy delivery recalls Blossom Dearie. But Ekdahl’s coquetry and limited range is tempered by a disarming feel for the music.

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The fragile, yet cool detachment is also reminiscent of Chet Baker, without the trumpeter’s deeply pessimistic overtones. Perhaps this set works because the recording was originally intended as a private pressing and was completed in a day. Ekdahl lets the tunes speak for themselves and pianist Peter Nordahl’s trio provides subtly swinging accompaniment: everyone sounds like they are kicking back, enjoying themselves. It will grow on you. Garry Booth