In 1988 - following a few years of extensive touring with the funk band Blast - Hanne Boel turned towards soul-affiliated music. With Black Wolf, the first of 14 solo releases, her career skyrocketed, propelling her to the top of Scandinavian charts again and again. However, in 1987, shortly before this success story began, she had a short flirt with jazz on SHADOW OF LOVE with Jørgen Emborg, Mads Vinding and Alex Riel. The record was released on the budding label Stunt Records and over the years, despite a reclusive life in the shadows, the album sold gold.
Last year’s release I THINK IT’S GOING TO RAIN marked a renewed association with Stunt after 23 years, which continues on THE SHINING OF THINGS, an album of carefully selected songs enriched by Hanne Boel’s personal experience, character and interpretive powers.
“My previous CD, I THINK IT’S GOING TO RAIN, which I made in close collaboration with pianist Carsten Dahl, was meant as a dividing line. I wanted to cut to the bone artistically, musically and production-wise”, says Hanne Boel. After the album release, she and Swedish pianist Jacob Karlzon went on a duo tour of 35 concerts in 7 weeks.
With these concerts in the challenging duo format, a joint venture began, in which Boel and Karlzon developed an intuitive understanding, mesmerizing themselves and audiences throughout Denmark, Norway and Sweden. They share an understanding of the necessity of mutual attention and spontaneity, and the importance of keeping an open mind in the demanding performance with only two people on stage – one instrument and one voice.
“Jacob and I experienced an intense period of closeness personally and musically. We learned to enjoy each others musicality, and through the daily concerts many intense debates arose on the nature of music and our own strengths and weaknesses.”
The close audience contact made them want to keep in touch with the intimate atmosphere, while adding just the right amount of extra instrumentation to some of the songs, as to convey them even better.
The idea of recording a CD with an extended line-up while retaining the intimacy and presence of the duo format grew, as did the repertoire for THE SHINING OF THINGS. It is of no consequence to Hanne and Jacob, whether a song comes from the world of pop, rock or jazz. The songs are chosen for their ability to be molded and given new life in the duo’s musical collaboration, to become their “own”. The selection includes a beautiful Leonard Cohen song, an old Pretenders hit, an Ornette Coleman tune and an excursion to the Brazil of Jobim.
“Some lyrics are what they seem to be, others may find new meanings when I sing them with the life I have lived and my particular experience as a musician and human being. It’s exciting to be challenged by a set of lyrics and feel the necessity coming from the words”, Hanne Boel explains of her choice of songs. Hanne begins most of their concerts by telling the audience that in her opinion, “uncategorized” is a new genre and the new trend. She explains that she and Jacob don’t spend time defining a style, but instead let their inspiration choose the shape of the final arrangement. And she continues on the subject of Jacob’s and her feelings on musical categories:
“Jacob and I come from very different backgrounds musically as well as culturally. My roots are in Black American music, whereas Jacob grew up with Swedish jazz and an old love of heavy rock, which never has been my strong side. But I experience our differences as our mutual strength. We don’t think or talk about it very much, we play – but we are very aware whether we become excited and surprised by what comes out of it. We have tried to keep a balance, avoiding too much Puritanism in a song’s arrangement and not keeping to a preconceived concept. These days, when anything is possible in a modern recording studio, and we aren’t performing spontaneously in the moment, this is a challenge. Our mantra has been to allow the recording situation to become a third partner – to let the possibilities play a role as well.”
Jacob Karlzon’s talent and importance in this duo cannot be overestimated. Sensitivity goes hand in hand with developed technique. Born (1970) and raised in Jönköbing in Sweden, he debuted on record in 1992, and has since released five albums in his own name and worked on more than 40 others as a sideman. His most recent release, THE BIG PICTURE from 2011, is with the same trio as here and also on Stunt Records. He is the recipient of many awards including Musician of the Year in Sweden and the Django d’Or Prize as Contemporary Star of Jazz. Jacob Karlzon has accompanied numerous popular jazz names.
Hanne Boel has invited a guest vocalist to join her on two tunes: The popular Italian crooner, Mario Biondi. In Italy one summer, she constantly heard a unique voice coming out of the speakers in cafés, restaurants and shops. Although the music sounded like jazz, it was played in a very heavy fashion. Later, Hanne heard more of Mario’s music at an open-air concert, where his huge, deep voice sang the sun out of the sky and gave the seasoned Danish vocalist a rare goose-pimple experience. When Hanne was looking for a duet partner for Willie Nelson’s wonderful “Funny How Time Slips Away” (also sung by Elvis Presley), it was natural for her to ask Mario Biondi. The result is a great duet, which so enthused the Italian star, that he invited Hanne as a guest on his coming CD.
Hanne Boel is no starlet. She is an experienced and intuitive artist, who chooses her collaborators with care. THE SHINING OF THINGS confirms her status by taking yet another musical step on a new path, far from a mere re-invention of previous successes. This selection features 11 very different songs in 11 very different arrangements unfolding various moods ranging from breathtakingly intimate to grandiose, bound together by sensitivity and interpretive prowess. LISTEN!