Blood Sings is an interesting jazz album dedicated to the music of Suzanne Vega. For those who are not familiar with her, Suzanne Vega is a singer-songwriter renowned for her characteristically folk-inspired music. (Vega was a leading artist during a period of folk-music revival in the early 1980s.) Here her songs, originally for acoustic guitar and voice, are arranged by Czech jazz luminary and bassist Jaromír Honzák for a much more diverse body of instruments, producing a jazz-folk synergy that melds the best of Vega’s songwriting with the talent and musicality of Honzák and his group.
Over the course of many playthroughs I grew more fond of Honzák´s arrangements. The ostensible simplicity of each track melted away to reveal the layered craft, leaving me to discover nuances with each sequential listen. Musically, Blood Sings is a slower-paced album that conveys deep emotion, a tribute to Suzanne Vega’s idiosyncratic style which lacks drama. As for her songs, I am fond of the brief description found on Vega’s bio page: “Notably succinct and understated, often cerebral but also streetwise, her lyrics invite multiple interpretations.” In the end, it’s the performances that really bring the project together. Norwegian singer Sissel Vera Pettersen does a great job emulating and embellishing Vega’s clear voice and her excellent use of electronics truly adds to the ambiance. Also, my hat goes off to the percussionist Łukasz Żyta. In “Honeymoon Suite” (made available in the sidebar), his rhythmic accents in what is otherwise a simple, attractive tune add that extra flavor, making it one of my favorite tracks.
Honzák’s albums have won multiple awards and Blood Sings follows that trend, having been nominated for the Angel Awards 2012 in the “Jazz and Blues” category. If you’re looking for a new jazz album with high replayability – and who isn’t – I urge you to pick this up.
The new album by renowned jazz bassist and composer Jaromír Honzák is for the first time not comprised of his own compositions but is dedicated to song by Suzanne Vega in Honzák´s characteristic arrangements. Honzák is joined here by the Norwegian singer Sissel Vera Pettersen, Polish drummer Łukasz Żyta, pianist Vít Křišťan and guitarist Josef Štěpánek. The album was recorded at the end of 2012 at Sono Studios.
1. Language (Suzanne Vega, Michael Visceglia)
2. Blood Sings (Suzanne Vega)
3. Penitent (Suzanne Vega)
4. Ironbound / Fancy Poultry (Suzanne Vega, Anton Sanko)
5. Honeymoon Suite (Suzanne Vega)
6. Fifty-Fifty Chance (Suzanne Vega)
7. If You Were In My Music (Jaromír Honzák, Sissel Vera Pettersen, Vít Křišťan, Łukasz Żyta)
8. Wooden Horse (Caspar Houser´s Song) (Suzanne Vega, Michael Visceglia, Anton Sanko, Marc Shulman, Stephen Ferrera)
9. Solitaire (Suzanne Vega)
10. Those Whole Girls (Run in Grace) (Suzanne Vega)
Music of: Suzanne Vega
With her sultry voice, Suzanne Vega seamlessly joins her poetry and contemporary folk song with a sound that is utterly unique and identifiable to her alone. A pioneer among singer-songwriters, Suzanne has embarked on a project to re-imagine her own songbook in a stripped down and intimate manner.
For more information, please visit www.suzannevega.com.
Voice: Sissel Vera Pettersen
“Her voice a transparent gossamer of silk. Hers is an instrument that can shape sound and syllable, making it the messenger of every articulation whether it is a whisper, an ululation or a prance on the edge of a scream.” -All About Jazz, US
For more information, please visit www.sisselvera.com.
Bass: Jaromír Honzák
Bandleader, bassist and composer Jaromír Honzák graduated from the Conservatory of Teplice in 1982, and completed additional studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has performed with virtually all of the major figures of the Czech jazz scene and with many international artists such as Bill Hardman, Phil Wilson, Art Farmer, Victor Lewis, Amina Claudine Myers and Jorge Rossy.
For more information, please visit www.jaromirhonzak.com.
Piano: Vít Křišťan
Guitar: Josef Štěpánek
Drums: Łukasz Żyta