Cecilie Strange, Beyond Review
by Jeff Becker
In her latest oeuvre, Cecilie Strange delves into the introspective realms of sound, rendering Beyond a poignant tribute to life and the intimate relationships that shape its narrative. Scheduled for release on June 9, 2023, under April Records, Beyond is a tapestry of love, loss, and motherhood emanating from the heart of an artist renowned for her soulful musical explorations. Strange’s Blikan first caught my attention in 2021, and her evolution and focus as a composer and performer have grown even more potent with Beyond.
The album begins its soulful journey with “The Alices of My Life,” it’s within “Byssan Lull” where the ensemble shines collectively. This track is a beautiful Nordic jazz performance of a traditional Swedish folk song that takes the listener on an emotional journey. Guest vocalist Josefine Cronholm captures the essence of the melody and lyrics with a warm and true-to-pitch tone. Strange’s saxophone is haunting, and her solo is as emotional as it is lyrical, maintaining the energy of the theme throughout. Cronholm’s scatting solo is ethical and filled with imagination and emotion, creating a beautiful interplay when joined by Strange’s saxophone.
Comprising six compositions, each track of Beyond brings forth its own story, steeped in heartfelt sentiment and melancholic undertones. Strange imbues her musical journey with the warmth of personal experiences and memories, creating an immersive listening experience that reverberates with the essence of human connection.
“Where my heart lives,” an emotional melody with elements of Nordic and European jazz, beautifully captures the essence of Strange’s musical philosophy. Her relaxed playing of the melody is sensitively supported by Andersson’s robust bass sound, Rosendal’s harmonic colors, and Høyer’s ever-supportive and colorful drumming. The composition is a testament to Strange’s mission to gently and slowly paint a picture of life’s emotional moments through music.
Strange’s partnership with her “dream team” – Peter Rosendal on piano, Jakob Høyer on drums, and Thommy Andersson on bass – illuminates the album’s inherent harmony. The musicians, arranged in a circle, provide a symbiotic interplay that resonates in each track’s soulful harmony and musical eloquence.
‘Midnight Sun Upon Saltværsøya,’ inspired by the eternal light on a remote Norwegian island, portrays a vivid soundscape that ebbs and flows with the rhythmic cadences of nature. Strange’s deft saxophone work, juxtaposed with the nuanced melodies from the ensemble, crafts a soundscape as entrancing as the midnight sun itself.
Beyond traverses the boundaries of the improvised and the composed, creating a unique soundscape that invites contemplation and peaceful introspection. Strange’s approach to ensemble playing underscores the shared chemistry among the musicians, enriching the organic flow of the album.
With Beyond, Strange once again establishes her place in the global jazz scene, expanding her stylistic vocabulary while embracing the essence of her Scandinavian roots. It is a mature, contemplative work that delves into the realms of life, love, and loss with a serene, understated elegance. The compositions and performances reaffirm that Strange’s journey as a jazz artist is filled with an ever-evolving dynamism and ongoing creative exploration. From Blikan to Beyond, Strange’s artistic growth and expertise continue to captivate her listeners, leading them on a musically enriching journey, one note at a time.