Just the Two of Us Caecilie Norby & Lars Danielsson
- 1Both Sides Now05:35
- 2Double Dance05:00
- 3Liberetto Cantabile04:28
- 4Sad Sunday04:50
- 5Cherry Tree03:41
- 6And It's Supposed to Be Love04:25
- 7Wild Juju Child03:08
- 9Wondrous Story03:07
- 10Wholly Earth02:48
- 12Ghost Lullabye03:09
Info for Just the Two of Us
Caecilie Norby and Lars Danielsson are the dream couple of jazz – in the truest sense of the word. Being a couple also in “real life”, two of the most popular and recognized musicians in European jazz now present their first duo album ever. An intimate touching musical statement with voice and strings.
The sound of a bass starts things off - tender, dreamy and resonant. Only a player like Lars Danielsson can introduce a melody quite as magically as this. Then Cæcilie Norby joins in and sings Joni Mitchell’s eternal ballad “Both Sides Now” in her own irresistably sensuous way, entrenched in blues and utterly charming. With the very first note Norby and Danielsson take their listener on a journey into their private music universe, which leaves no-one unmoved.
For many years Norby and Danielsson are a married couple but musically they went their separate paths for a long time: Norby was the pre-eminent funk and jazz singer in Denmark, until she took herself off to America, long before other Scandinavian singers followed her example. She became the first European female artist to be signed to the Blue Note label, a move which led to working with global stars such as Mike Stern and Chick Corea. Lars Danielsson, from Sweden, also has a major international career to his name, working alongside the likes of Charles Lloyd and the Brecker Brothers; but over and above that, he has developed as an artist (and also as a producer) through being a long-standing member of the ACT label family, and is now regarded as one of the most significant European jazz musicians. Just recently Danielsson has received the prestigious ECHO Jazz 2015 as best bassist international in Germany.
Norby has also found her artistic home at ACT, where she has now been since 2011. Her husband was closely involved in the production of both of her albums for the label. In return, she brings her musical know-how into Danielsson’s productions, just like on the most recent album “Liberetto II”, released in 2014.
The two have now taken on another venture together, performing an intimate duet, “Just The Two Of Us.” Danielsson explains: “This was a major challenge. For a bassist, the voice is the most demanding of instruments with which to work in a duo. You have to proceed with extreme delicacy when it comes to intonation and pulse. It can only work with two people who know each other really well, and who have a sixth sense for the direction the music is taking. Cæcilie knows how to react instantly to my playing, I couldn't have done this with anyone else.”
Apart from songs by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and the great Abbey Lincoln, these two play their own compositions. These range from songs that come from deep-set emotions, like “Sad Sunday,” to an arrangement for duo of Danielsson's popular composition “Liberetto,” to which Danielsson has added a trademark extra section, “Cantabile.” The variety of expression that they achieve together, the sheer opulence of their musicality will amaze the listener.
The album runs the gamut from the more classical “Toccata” to the grooving feel-good song “And It’s Supposed To Be Love.” Norby and Danielsson take on the folksy nonchalance of the charming ballad “Cherry Tree”, and also get stuck into the melodramatic soul number “Wild Juju Child.” They range from the near-silence of the miniature “Wondrous Story” to the African highlife spectacular “Wholly Earth.”
Danielsson bows and plucks the bass, but that is far from all he does: he plays cello, and reveals himself to be a fine guitarist, and also deploys percussion instruments including marimba. Norby's vocal contribution goes all the way from the tenderest pianissimo to a gutsy shout, and she also accompanies herself on percussion – utilising both the Nigerian udu and the sansula (thumb-piano).
Norby has a vivid and humorous way of describing how she and Danielsson worked together on “Just The Two Of Us”: “We listen to each other, we adapt to each other, feel – and toy with each other's feelings, listen again, we lean into each other, we relax, we surprise and convince each other, we step back into the shadows, grab the limelight, exaggerate, understate - and then listen again.”
Norby and Danielsson are virtuosos, they are experienced artists, they are soul-mates who trust each other. Expect some magic.
Caecilie Norby, vocals, percussion, Sansula, Udu
Lars Danielsson, bass, cello, guitar, Marimba, percussion
Musical pigeonholes have never interested Danish singer Cæcilie Norby: “I have always been in search of catchy melodies – if you want to have a hit in the pop world, you need a strong melody. In jazz the central subject is that which opens a piece and, in classical music, even the grandest orchestral arrangements may become boring and flat if they aren’t carried by a natural melody.” For Norby it is the melody that is the essence of music, and the decisive criteria according to which she evaluates and chooses music which is free of any genre boundaries. It is an approach which mirrors her extraordinary career and is probably also the secret of her success.
As the daughter of classical musicians – her mother, Solveig Lumholt, was an opera singer and her father, Erik Norby, was a composer – it was the discovery of jazz with its bluesy, swinging and cool moments which brought the decision to follow in her parents’ footsteps. A short while later, whilst still a teenager, she got caught up in the maelstrom of rock and pop music with its raw energy and catchy tunes. As a traveller between these different musical worlds she quickly made a name for herself, beginning with her funk jazz band “Frontline” which won all the Danish jazz awards going in the early Eighties. She then went on to form the pop duo “One Two” with Nina Forsberg, selling a quarter of a million albums in Denmark alone.
Norby is probably the most important figure in Scandinavia to bridge the gap between pop and jazz, which led to her paving the way for colleagues such as Rebekka Bakken, Silje Nergaard and Viktoria Tolstoy. She was the first Scandinavian artist to be signed up to the legendary Blue Note label where she recorded four highly acclaimed and best selling albums. Cæcilie Norby has also worked with many international stars in different genres, from Bugge Wesseltoft (another Scandinavian authority on stylistically open jazz which reaches a wide audience) to Billy Hart, Mike Stern, Chick Corea and Kurt Elling. The most important of these is bassist Lars Danielsson who not only became her husband but also producer and partner on almost all her projects.
However, Norby doesn’t only find jazzy sounds in classical melodies – the reverse is also true. On two songs she impressively shows what a “classic” Michel Legrand is, whom she regards as the “most melodic European composer of all times.” The swing standard “Bei mir bist du schoen“ is also transformed into a rousing funk track not least thanks to Wesseltoft’s electronic accompaniment. Norby also includes an unsentimental hymn to “Wholly Earth” by Abbey Lincoln who she greatly respects - although she was unaware of this at the time, the song became a posthumous tribute.
As usual, Norby is accompanied by a hand-picked troop of brilliant musicians besides Danielsson, Wesseltoft and Gislinge, ACT guitar star Ulf Wakenius, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, flutist Hans Ulrik as well as drummer and percussionist Anders Engen and Xavier Desandre-Navarre; like her, all fans of great melodies. This is also why “Arabesque” has this immense potential for gaining many enthusiastic followers – not only lovers of classical music, jazz or pop, but also all those who simply love good tunes.