Sidsel Endresen: Exile (ECM 1524)

Sidsel Endresen
Exile

Sidsel Endresen voice
Django Bates piano, tenor horn
Nils Petter Molvær trumpet
Jon Christensen drums, percussion
Bugge Wesseltoft keyboards
David Darling cello
Recorded August 1993 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

After an astonishing ECM debut with So I Write, Norwegian jazz vocalist Sidsel Endresen returned to the label with this haunting companion. Like its predecessor, Exile takes an intimate peek into the nature of our burdens, nesting among the virtues of self-reflection. Having already come to know the raw beauty of Endresen’s voice, those familiar with the former album can take pleasure in strolling among the fine musicianship that accompanies her this time around. Of note is cellist David Darling, who makes healthy appearances at key moments during the album’s unfolding story. His interactions with Django Bates at the keys in “Quest” and duet with Endresen in “Theme II” are but two examples of his flowing presence. Bates himself throws pianistic sunlight onto water in such tracks as “Hunger” while overflowing with soul through his tenor horn in “Dust.” But let us not neglect Endresen, whose steady avenues in “Here The Moon” extend from the outset into a cloudy future. Even when singing wordlessly, she captures our hearts with images and trailing thoughts. The title track brings together all of these elements and more in a journey of roads, rivers, and rails; a shift from black and white to color; a tale of solitude, touched by kisses of hope. Yet the greatest seclusion thrives in “Waiting Train,” which dissolves away, awash in cymbals and thoughts of what could have been. We fend for ourselves in this frame, blind to any and all destinations. Hooking sadness onto your arm like an old friend, Endresen leads you from this place, leaving behind a tear-stained letter where you once stood.

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