I hadn’t seen Aziza Mustafa Zadeh performing for a few years (the last time was when she toured her Decca album Shamans in 2002 and 2003), therefore I was a bit curious what she would do now. Yesterdays concert at the Auditorio of the Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid was played in a trio setting; Ralf Cetto on bass and Simon Zimbardo on drums were the perfect partners for her jazz/classical/world music mix.

Her new repertoire is based on classical pieces by composers like Verdi, Handel, Ravel and Mozart, but played with the power of a rock-jazz trio and the elegance she always displayed. Her singing, beautiful and full of imagination, here more classical, but nevertheless moving and touching. Some of the interwoven solo pieces were absolutely amazing and she showed why she is such a unique artist – a great pianist with a lot of skills in improvisation and composition, an incredible singer with a background in folk music and classical – she combines these assets and influences to something completely unique and widely appealing.

Guess I need to go and check out her latest two recordings: Contrasts and Contrasts II !

‘Unclouded’ is the title of the new album by Norwegian singer and composer Silje Nergaard and, even being her 12th recording, it feels like a new beginning, a return to simplicity, the way she had it on her earlier recordings. After two more ambitious projects (one of them with Orchestra and Vince Mendoza as the arranger) she has recorded this album with just 2 guitars – except for two songs were she invited guests: Nils Petter Molvaer and John Scofield respectively. There are a lot of great tracks here – check out the Killers ‘Human’ in her version and ‘All I Had’ with Nils Petter playing absolutely gorgeous behind her.

A record for a quiet hour, a record to relax and enjoy the simplicity and the great vocal skills she shows in every song.

A great and beautiful album, at the moment released in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and of course Scandinavia – the rest of Europe will follow during the course of the year. My highest recommendation for this one!

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