Tag Archives: Album

Claudia Campagnol: I’m Strong


An incredible debut album from Hungarian-Swedish-Danish singer and multi-instrumentalist Claudia Campagnol has found it’s way to my desk. Official release date is April 23, but two songs have been released as singles in February and March 2019 and are already available on Spotify.

Claudia Campagnol was born in 1987 in Budapest, Hungary, to parents who are both professional musicians. She sang before she could talk, and started playing the piano when she was 4. The whole family moved to Sweden and by the age of 12 she could be seen “guesting” on her parents’ gigs in venues all around the country.

At the age of 12 she discovered her dad’s Jazz fusion albums with Chick Corea, John Patitucci, Mezzoforte or Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter who inspired her for her first composition “Rainbow Dreams” which is found on the album.

After graduating from the University of Music in Malmoe she worked several years in Sweden and around Europe. She settled in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she met the Swedish-Italian drummer Niclas Campagnol, who became her husband. After a baby break Claudia is back on the scene. In 2017, she reached the final in the Danish “Young Jazz” competition. She also starred on Antonio Faraò’s latest album  “Eklektik” (with Marcus Miller) (a very interesting album) and now she is finally releasing her debut album “I’m Strong.”

The album starts with the brilliant Stevie Wonder inspired  “All Through You”, which was released as a single on February 22 and was selected by Apple Music’s editors for their “Best of The Week” playlist covering all genres.  Claudia plays keyboards, bass and sings lead and background vocals, Niclas Campagnol the drums. This song is a soul-pop song in the best tradition of Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau or Chaka Khan. I was listening a lot to this kind of music in the early ’80s and so I cannot get enough of it.

“I’m Strong”, the title song of the album comes next. A soft tune which was written for Vivian Buczek for her 2014 album “Curiosity”.  What I like especially is the cool combination of keyboard and vocal sounds.

“Do You Love Me” adds Gábor Bolla (saxophone), Zacharias Celinder (guitar) and Gerard Presencer (flugelhorn). The solo goes to Claudia Campagnol with what she calls her keyboard “signature” sound. Claudia wrote and recorded this tune to win the love of Niclas. Nice story with a happy ending.

“For Her” features Gerard Presencer on flugelhorn and is about a woman Claudia Campagnol once met in a dark and smoky jazz club who “made a hell of an impression” on her. The highlight of this song is definitely the flugelhorn solo by Gerard Presencer.

“Conquer the World” is the second tune that was released as a single.  We see a different line-up  with Jimmy Haslip on bass and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Claudia explains: “Vinnie Colaiuta played a monstrous drum fill on John Patitucci’s album “On The Corner” which I just had to rewind a hundred times the first time I heard it. Thanks to my label Giant Sheep Music, one of my greatest dreams has now come true!” The tune has a nice steady odd groove and harmonic sequences that remind me again on Stevie Wonder.

“Rainbow Dreams” is a soft and open ballad.  Claudia wrote the song at the age of 12 and it includes interesting harmonic structures. Claudia explains again: “In my teens, I couldn’t wait to get home from school, put on the meanest chord progressions with the baddest cats on the planet and let all my emotions explode through my ears”.

“Z-Song” comes next and features Eliel Lazo on percussion (he is a friend of Silvio Caroli who was featured in my blog two weeks ago). The melody is sung without lyrics, nevertheless the beautiful vocal arrangement dominates this Latin-song.

“Don’t Let It Die” features Carl Mörner Ringström on guitar. Interesting harmonic sequences and a great guitar solo are the highlights of this ballad. Claudia Campagnol gives us more insights: “If you ever had a best friend or a lover whom you could drift away with over a bottle of red wine, talking about the meaning of life throughout the whole night, as if time almost stood still, then you fully understand this tune”.

“It Makes Me Glad” starts with a great and lengthy a-cappella intro and ends with an open piano solo. The inspiration for this song came after an audition for the Swedish vocal ensemble “The Real Group”.

The album ends with the Charlie Chaplin tune “Smile”.  Claudia prepared an arrangement that combines the melody from this song with her idea of “mean” chords to a very uncommon but rather refreshing interpretation.

Overall a great album with a sound I haven’t heard for many years and that reminds me a lot of the music I was listening to in the ’80s but with a fresh and inspiring touch. It is jazzy, it grooves and it is full of new ideas. Claudia Campagnol managed to do her own thing in a brillant manner. Chapeau!

The official CD release party takes place on April 23 in Copenhagen at the PH Halmtorvet 9. If you are in Bremen at the jazzahead!-clubnight on April 27 you can see her at the Swissôtel Bremen.

More information is found on Claudia’s facebook site:

Claudia produced also a nice promotional video:

And finally the album has been released on Spotify:


Shubh Saran: H.A.D.D


I would like to start the new year with an EP from Shubh Saran, a guitarist and composer based in Brooklyn, NY. He released his album entitled H.A.D.D on November 9, 2018.

H.A.D.D is an abbreviation for Hypersensitive Agency Detection Device, i.e. the tendency for humans to assume the presence of a sentient being in situations that may not involve one at all.

Shubh explains: “This represents the core idea of the EP, assigning greater meaning to everyday life. We are comforted by the idea of someone or something having a deciding hand in our lives, believing that everything happens for a reason. I wanted the music from this album to represent that feeling.”

Shubh Saran continues: “The music from the record is a melting pot of contemporary jazz, indie-rock, neo-soul, and fusion. After a year of monthly performances in New York and an India tour, the record draws its inspiration from the energy of my band’s live shows. H.A.D.D features five new songs written and recorded this year. “.

The line-up of the band is a little bit unconventional:

  • Shubh Saran – guitar
  • Angelo Spampinato – drums
  • Josh Bailey – drums & percussion
  • Christian Li – piano & keys
  • Brian Plautz – alto saxophone
  • Mark Minoogian – bass
  • Jared Yee – tenor saxophone
  • Hannah Sumner – vocals

Regarding the musicians, I have received some background information from Shubh: “I’ve known Brian and Jared since our time at Berklee. Although we rarely played together then, they became some of my closest musician friends after moving to New York. I met the rest of band playing in the music circuit here in New York, performing with them in various other projects and bands. When the time came to put together my own band for touring and recording, I asked the people who I admired the most.”

The first song “Pareidolia” starts soft by keyboards and saxophone, with growing intensity and turns into a cool funky groove at around 1:22, a great surprise to me. This change is repeated, first softly, increasing tension and groove change. We hear a guitar solo over funky slapping bass. Focus is on arrangement and sounds but diversified and never boring. This song is already my first highlight on the album.

“Eudaimonia” begins with guitar and saxophone and the intro reminds a little bit of the happy sound of the Daniel Bennett Group but without the changes of tonality. We hear an excellent piano solo with a nice horns background arrangement.

“Sight And Seen” comes next. Focus here is definitely on the pushing groove by the two drummers. The two saxophones play the melody alternating with the guitar.

“Falter” features Hannah Sumner on vocals and is my second highlight on the EP.  She is supported by a great arrangement with multiple layers of keyboards and guitar sounds. A saxophone solo towards the end of the song brings also great dynamics. A beautiful song, presented softly and intense.

“Divisible” is already the last tune of the EP. The melody is played by the guitar supported by the piano in pop-style. After a soft beginning the song becomes again more intensive and ends with a mellow single piano.

Overall I like this EP very much, it has the focus clearly on composition and sound, not on improvisation. It is definitely very individual and the ideas and the inspiration come from the personal experience and impressions of Shubh Saran. The musicians are all excellent and place their skills into the service of the composition and the arrangement. An album outside the conventions.

Finally, I asked Shubh if he has been able to perform the songs from the EP in front of an audience and he told me: “We have performed the songs in New York a number of times and the audience reception was great and very inspiring. The song forms are open enough to allow us to stray away from the recordings and spontaneously create new moments while playing live.”

Shubh Saran produced a “making-of” video with some nice impressions from the studio:

The album is also available on Spotify:

More information including the possibility to buy the sheet music for some of the songs and dates of live shows are found on Shubh Saran’s website: