Jazz: The Eileen Drewery of jazz

LISA EKDAHL AND PETER NORDAHL TRIO

LONDON

IF YOU think of Isabella Rossellini singing "Blue Velvet" in David Lynch's film, and then imagine the role as it might have been played by Jessica Rabbit, you can begin to understand the extraordinary appeal of Lisa Ekdahl.

The Swedish jazz vocalist has a fragile, yearning, little-girl-lost voice that suggests deep wells of emotional distress. But her cool beauty and austere poise signal that everything is under control, whatever the lovelorn lyrics of the songs might say.

Though the volume of this debut British performance rarely rose above the conversational, it fairly shouted star quality from the rooftops. It brought to mind Graham Greene reviewing the international screen debut of Ingrid Bergman and noting a highlight gleaming on her nose-tip, as if she had quite literally twinkled into stardom.

Ekdahl began with the title-song from her album, "When Did You Leave Heaven", a gloriously soppy standard she gleaned from a Johnny "Guitar" Watson LP. Intoning the words at no more than whisper-level, while the trio shuffled somnolently behind her, the spell was cast immediately. As she sang, she stood as still as a statue while, in the audience, hairs on the back of necks prickled and forkfuls of pizza suspended in mid-air.

The trio, with Nordahl on piano, Patrik Boman on double bass, and the American expatriate Ronnie Gardiner on drums, are, for a vocalist, a dream of a band. The snare-drum is brushed almost lovingly; cymbals tick with quiet exactitude; the bass alternates between satisfyingly muffled thumps and expressive glissandi, while the spare piano chords are full of space and time.

The material was almost all down-tempo standards, so familiar as to risk disdain: "But Not For Me"; "Tea For Two": "My Heart Belongs to Daddy"; "Love For Sale", etc. But Ekdahl's real gift lies not so much in the originality of her interpretations as in the way she allows the essence of the songs to come through. Like the Eileen Drewery of jazz, she's a medium.

Her voice and delivery suggest numerous antecendents: there's Chet Baker and Jimmy Scott, Blossom Dearie, Betty Boop and even Bjork; and a touch of Eartha Kitt's feline charm. But the result is entirely her own, and entirely adorable. Whether her intimate charm will work as well in larger venues remains to be seen, but Lisa Ekdahl is twinkling into stardom.

Lisa Ekdahl and the Peter Nordahl Trio continue until Saturday: Pizza Express, W1, 0171 439 8722. The album `When Did You Leave Heaven' is on RCA Victor

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

    RuPaul interview

    The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
    The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

    The best swimwear for men

    From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
    Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

    Mark Hix goes summer foraging

     A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
    Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

    With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

    Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
    Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

    Aaron Ramsey interview

    Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
    Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

    Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

    As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
    The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

    Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

    Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
    A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

    A Very British Coup, part two

    New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms