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Susanne Abbuehl — April [2002]

 Susanne Abbuehl — April [2002]

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                     Susanne Abbuehl — April
   Jazz vocalist with Swiss and Dutch roots who has recorded admired dates for ECM.
   Susanne studied jazz and classical singing and composition at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, with teachers including Jeanne Lee and Diderik Wagenaar. Abbuehl also studied Indian classical singing with Dr. Prabha Atre in Bombay. She has written for theatre and radio productions including, recently, “Der Gaukler Tag”, a radio play newly nominated for the International Prix Marulic. Her ECM debut "April" received the Edison Award.
Born: in Bern, Berne, Switzerland, July 30, 1970
Location: Bern, Switzerland
Album release: February 26, 2001/March 26, 2002
Record Label: ECM (ECM 1766)
Duration:     53:30
01. Yes Is A Pleasant Country (Susanne Abbuehl)      (5:20)
02. Ida Lupino (Susanne Abbuehl/Carla Bley)      (7:26)
03. Closer (Susanne Abbuehl/Carla Bley)      (5:10)
04. All I Need (Susanne Abbuehl/Wolfert Brederode)      (2:53)
05. A.I.R. (All India Radio) (Carla Bley)      (8:06)
06. Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond (Carla Bley)   (3:35)
07. Skies Maybe Blue; Yes  (Susanne Abbuehl/Wolfert Brederode)     (7:43)
08. 'Round Midnight (Bernie Hanighen/Thelonious Monk/Cootie Williams)   (4:12)
09. Maggie And Milly And Molly And May (Susanne Abbuehl/Wolfert Brederode)    (6:32)
10. Since Feeling Is First (Susanne Abbuehl)      (1:45)
11. Mane Na (Prabha Atre)      (5:41)
Susanne Abbuehl voice
Wolfert Brederode piano, harmonium, melodica
Christof May clarinet, bass clarinet
Samuel Rohrer drums, percussion
Recorded November 2000 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Album Moods: Calm/Peaceful Delicate Ethereal Intimate Hypnotic Reflective Earthy Elegant Enigmatic Laid-Back/Mellow Literate Nocturnal Organic Refined Restrained Sensual Whimsical Gentle Melancholy Bittersweet
All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
This quiet, persistent rain.  (Robert Creeley, 1926—2005)
Editorial Reviews
    Self-referential and remarkably consistent, the ECM label has come to represent a state of mind: a place where melancholy and romance intertwine, seductively rendered in gorgeous sound. The Swiss-born singer, Susanne Abbuehl, making her ECM debut, clearly knows the territory, paying homage to the ECM artists who helped explore it.     Backed by piano, clarinet, and drums, all played with a spare angularity (suggesting the early ECM recordings of Paul Bley), Abbuehl's clear diction and wistful delivery align her with fellow ECM stalwarts Annette Peacock and Carla Bley. Indeed, she covers several of Carla's tunes, including "Ida Lupino" and "Closer" (vehicles for the aforementioned Paul) as well as "A.I.R" (from Escalator over the Hill), in which she uses her voice as an instrument, reminiscent of Jan Garbarek's version of the same tune (from ECM's Witchi-Tai-To). Treatments of poet e.e. cummings's elliptical words, and a doleful version of Monk's "Round Midnight" round out the album, with Abbuehl's lovely voice providing bittersweet balm for late-night introspection. — Wally Shoup
    The ECM debut of Susanne Abbuehl is a verdant introductory résumé for which the Swiss singer-composer presents settings of poems by e. e. cummings and sets her own to the music of Carla Bley. Abbuehl comes from a long line of idiosyncratic chanteuses to have passed through ECM’s hallowed halls — including Sidsel Endresen, Norma Winstone, and Annette Peacock — and has left behind a veritable wing of artwork to admire at length. April carves out perhaps the most distinct of these exhibitions, and with “yes is a pleasant country” introduces us not only to her nesting textu(r)al approach, but also to the poetry of her synergistic band. Pianist Wolfert Brederode (who has since gone on to record leader dates for ECM), drummer Samuel Rohrer (also of Brederode’s quartet), and clarinetist Christof May together grow, needle by needle, the Christmas tree from which Abbuehl hangs her vocal ornaments. The simpatico between singer and sung is further palpable in her braiding with melodica and clarinet in “all i need,” for which its love guides her indigo words far into the heavens. “skies may be blue” and “yes” form a bonded pair. One is a meditation on spring, the other a field of rolling hills painted in wordcraft. Brederode’s composing and playing are exquisite in “maggie and milly and molly and may,” a litany of fleeting memories in which his pianism overshadows with a vocal quality all its own. The final cummings tribute comes in “since feeling is first.” This Abbuehl sings solo, a tribute to the poet’s later disavowals of punctuation.
    Bley’s classic “Ida Lupino” gets a lyrical makeover, bringing out just one of countless stories hidden in its pathways: astute, a touch dark, and emotionally forthcoming. Brederode is something of a sage here, navigating the whimsical images therein: a tiger in the snow, a waning eye, a folding of the self into another’s embrace.     “Closer” and “A.I.R. (All India Radio)” pitch more cargo onto the S.S. Bley, set adrift on moonlit waters. Beyond Abbuehl’s “together-colored moment,” precious jewels shine in anticipation. The air is as wistful as one’s naming of it, yet promises eternity in the bass clarinet’s deep pocket. The latter tune processes by virtue of Rohrer’s understated timekeeping. Among the more seamless weddings of voice and music the album has to offer, one can easily get lost in its wordless circumscriptions. (It also foreshadows the album’s closer.) Bley gets one last nod in “Seven,” for which Abbuehl places spoken verse — in her words: petal by petal, yet deeper than all roses — upon the heart’s altar.
    Yet there is perhaps nothing so beguiling here than her re-imagining of “’Round Midnight.” Accompanied only by Brederode on harmonium, the tune creeps out from the darkness and shivers the very marrow. “Mane na” concludes the session by paying homage to Abbuehl’s Hindustani vocal training with a raga compressed to the scope of a teardrop.
    Although barely acknowledged above, Rohrer’s delicate infusions haunt the landscape throughout, reaching, as Abbuehl recites, “somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond…” In those rhythms is a heart made of pages, thirsty for the next scratch of pen.
    An auspicious label debut.
In french:
    ""Née a Berne, Susanne Abbuehl a étudié le chant classique au  conservatoire royal de La Haye, le jazz avec Jeanne Lee et le chant  classique de l'Inde du Nord a Bombay. Elle pose sa voix avec une infinie  douceur et son chant semble venir du plus profond d'elle-meme comme  pour nous révéler quelque secret message au-dela des mots qu'elle  exprime. Le quartette qui l'accompagne fonctionne un peu comme un  ensemble de musique de chambre et s'attache a la perfection de la  forme. Sa démarche est résolument minimaliste. Peu de notes mais les  plus justes, celles qui pesent de tout leur poids et répandent l'émotion.  Un piano reveur (Wolfert Brederode), une mélancolique et tendre  clarinette (Christof May), un batteur d'une extreme discrétion (Samuel  Rohrer) répondent a la pureté d'une voix envoutante. En partie consacré  aux compositions de Carla Bley — magnifiques reprises de "Ida  Lupino", "Closer" et "A.I.R. (All India Radio)" —, April  s'impose par la délicatesse de ses paysages musicaux."
    Et pour finir, voici le tout premier, superbe, lui aussi.
Website: http://www.susanneabbuehl.com/
Review by Glenn AstaritaScore: ****
    Switzerland-born singer Susanne Abbuehl studied with the influential vocalist Jeanne Lee (1939-2000) while attending the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, amidst her wholehearted interest in North Indian classical music. On her first release for ECM, Abbuehl and her fellow European musicians render an often thought-provoking program, augmented by the infamous "ECM aesthetic." However, the thrust of this outing emanates from the vocalist's incorporation of e.e. cummings' poems set to her music, while she appoints lyrics to a few Carla Bley compositions. Abbuehl possesses enticingly affectionate vocal attributes coupled with her soft incantations and atmospheric means of spinning a tale. Clarinetist Christof May serves as a near perfect foil for Abbuehl, as he frequently contrasts the singer's animated lyrical approach and tenderly stated choruses. The band utilizes punctuated rhythms and space as means for regenerating subtly executed micro-themes to coincide with these rather introspectively enacted works. A sense of fragility permeates this exquisite outing, as the artists' elegantly devised methodologies might be analogous to witnessing an oil painter applying strokes to a canvas. Simply stated, Abbuehl and associates have provided the modern jazz world with a picturesque soundscape, awash with articulately executed mosaics, that tends to impart a lasting impression. Recommended.
    Susanne Abbuehl  Arranger, Composer, Voices
    Prabha Atre  Composer, Lyricist
    Carla Bley  Composer
    Wolfert Brederode  Composer, Harmonium, Melodica, Piano
    e.e. cummings  Lyricist, Poetry
    Manfred Eicher  Producer
    Bernie Hanighen  Composer, Lyricist
    Sascha Kleis  Design
    Jan Erik Kongshaug  Engineer
    Christof May  Clarinet, Clarinet (Bass)
    Thelonious Monk  Composer
    Muriel Olesen  Cover Photo
    Samuel Rohrer  Drums, Percussion
    Cootie Williams  Composer

Susanne Abbuehl — April [2002]



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