A wonderful and charming voice from Scandinavia
Although only 22 years old, the Danish vocalist Malene Mortensen sings with stirring intensity.
At 19 she won the Danish Eurovision Song Contest, but Malene’s talent reaches far beyond the indifferent pop ditties often presented in such contexts. Her rich voice and mature phrasing seem born to caress classic jazz songs, which is exactly what she does on her second jazz album. The selection also includes several of her fine original tunes.
Following her success at the Danish Eurovision Song Contest, the internationally renowned Danish/Vietnamese pianist Niels Lan Doky contacted Malene. “Malene is a vocalist of international class, and a talent of highest order”, says Doky.
In 2003 Doky produced Malene Mortensen’s debut CD for Universal Records, Paradise. The players included Lan Doky and two other Danish jazz stars, bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (NHØP) and drummer Alex Riel. The CD topped the Danish jazz lists and caused attention abroad.
In a review of the vocalist, the Nestor of Danish jazz critics, Boris Rabinowitsch, wrote, “What a joy it is to discover a female vocalist who sings straight from the heart with no attitudes, and is graced with a voice that opens up freely”.
Malene’s musical talent is no coincidence. Her mother, Karen Mortensen (who passed away at much too young an age in1993), was a respected drummer, and her foster mother is a teacher of music theory and ear training. Her father, Jens Winther, is a composer, arranger and trumpeter of European fame. Malene has performed with his groups since her early teens.
In the summer of 2004 Malene signed with Scandinavia’s leading independent jazz label, Stunt Records (a part of Sundance The Scandinavian Music Company). For almost 25 years Stunt has constantly expanded its reputation for sublime releases of high musical and artistic quality.
The label paired Malene with another of their young, exceptional talents, pianist Kasper Villaume. He is also the musical producer on this album. The rest of the band is made up by bassist Avishai Cohen, a brilliant musician who joined Chick Corea’s New Trio allready at a young age, and drummer Morten Lund.
Some of the tunes featured on the new album have been associated with Billie Holiday (Date With A Dream) and Joni Mitchell (All I Want), while others are new, including a few of Malene’s own songs.
The music was recorded over January and February 2005 in Lasse Nillson’s modern and well-reputed Nilento Studio in Gothenburg in Sweden, and in the creative atmosphere of the small Boi Studio in Copenhagen’s Christiania. Some tunes are adorned with tasteful string quartet arrangements, others with discreet brass.
Date With A Dream is an enchanting and integrated album. Malene Mortensen’s charm, musical talent, intelligence and personality ooze from every track.
While only 22, Malene Mortensen is already a respected vocalist with her heart and feeling invested in jazz, but the scope of her talent and wonderful musical personality is such, that she touches non-jazz audiences as well.