Tag Archives: 2020

Mette Juul: New York – Copenhagen


Danish Jazz singer and songwriter Mette Juul released her new EP ‘New York – Copenhagen’ on March 6, 2020. This release is a follow-up on her album ‘Change’ from September 2019, which received and still receives many good reviews internationally and revealed new sides of herself through intimate solo, duo and trio sessions.

‘New York – Copenhagen’ continues with this setup and presents five songs where she is either accompanied by double bass and guitar or guitar only.

The EP was recorded partly in Juul’s own home in Copenhagen and partly in New York and Sweden and the musicians are also either from New York or Scandinavia. The three duets on this recording are all with Mike Moreno from New York and the two trios are with Lars Danielsson (DK/SE) on bass and Per Møllehøj (DK) or Ulf Wakenius (SE) on guitar.

Mette Juul tried to capture the difference between the vibrant energy of New York and the Nordic simplicity and warmth. So let’s listen carefully to these five songs.

The album starts with ‘Some Other Time’ by Leonard Bernstein, a duet between Mette Juul and Mike Moreno, who is responsible for the songs for the category ‘New York’.  This duet is very open in time and transparent in sound. Both musicians have a lot of space and they never get in each other’s way. Mike Moreno’s guitar playing is full of creative ideas and Mette’s voice is clear and precise with just a little vibrato.

‘Skylark’ comes next, again with Mike Moreno on guitar. This song has more drive and impresses with a solo by Mette and Mike in unison and the perfect intonation by Mette Juul over the clustered chords by Mike Moreno.

‘For Jan’ is the next song and we change to Copenhagen with Ulf Wakenius on guitar and Lars Danielsson on double bass. The different spirit of this song comes from the 3/4 time and the dialog between bass and vocals with the guitar adding some soft chord arpeggios.

The album continues with another trio, this time with Per Møllehøj on guitar and again Lars Danielsson on bass.  The song they play is a rather sad version of ‘You Must Believe in Spring’. This sadness comes mainly from Mette Juul’s interpretation. The unspectacular but straight playing of guitar and bass supports this mood perfectly. Really my highlight on the album.

The last song on this EP is called ‘The Peacocks (A Timeless Place) Part 2′ a song which is also found on the album ‘Change’. Mette gets perfect support from Mike Moreno for the difficult melody with whacky intervals. A little fade-out closes the album and leaves us with doubts and hope at the same time, this ambiguity is the major characteristic of this album, not only for the Copenhagen part but also for the songs that refer to New York.

Not the easy listening but the deep musical sense and the perfect balance between voice and guitar makes this album outstanding and unique.

More information about Mette Juul including concert dates (I see that she will play with pianist Søren Bebe) and some interesting videos can be found on her website:

And here is the complete album on Spotify:


Robin McKelle: Alterations


Vocalist Robin McKelle has just released a new album called “Alterations”. She picked songs from some of the most celebrated female vocalists and developed her own interpretation of these masterpieces. With the support from pianist and arranger Shedrick Mitchell she transformed her visions of these songs into stunning arrangements for an extended jazz combo.

The line up for this album is:

  • Robin McKelle: vocals
  • Shedrick Mitchell: piano
  • Richie Goods: bass
  • Charles Haynes: drums
  • Nir Felder: guitar
  • Keith Lofti: saxophone
  • Marquis Hill: trumpet

The album starts with Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”. The soft latin pulse is in great contrast to the steady beat of the original version but this freedom allows the band and Robin McKelle to develop greater dynamics.

“Rolling in the Deep” is the next song. Again much more open than the original version which puts Robin’s singing in the front. Nir Felder plays a fantastic solo accompanied by a pushing rhythm section with an incredible Charles Haynes on drums.

The album continues with the only original from Robin McKelle called “Head High”. This song is a true jazz song and underlines that she is really a jazz musician. The band is playing again incredible and saxophonist Keith Lofti is featured with this song.

“Don’t Explain” from Billy Holiday comes next. This song shows again the perfection of this band to handle a steady pulse without pushing for it. Soft drums and percussion and overdubbing vocals are the major characteristics of this song.

“Born to Die” from Rana Del Rey comes next. This song features Marquis Hill on trumpet. Remarkable is here again that the singing and the lyrics of this song are so clear in Robin McKelle’s interpretation compared to the original version where a lot of electronic ballast covers the vocalist.

“Jolene” by Dolly Parton is the next song on the album. Very groovy and bluesy with a nice Fender Rhodes piano solo.

The album continues with “River” by Joni Mitchell. A nice pop ballad perfectly played with a great guitar solo by Nir Felder.

“No Ordinary Love” from Sade comes next. This song was released as a single on January 31, 2020 and is presented in the open style which we have heard before and which is the main characteristic of this album. Guitarist Nir Felder gets the next chance to shine with an extended guitar solo and I am again enjoying the incredible drumming by Charles Haynes.

The next tune is Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz”. This tune comes with a much harder beat and a heavier rock guitar sound than all the other songs on the album and shows the versatility of Robin and her band.

The album closes with Carol King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” presented as duet between Robin McKelle on vocals and Shedrick Mitchell on piano.

In the making of the album, most of Robin’s vocal tracks used on the final recording were the takes she sang live with the band. Robin explains: “The energy and connection with the musicians was so powerful. They lifted me up and made it feel effortless. I’ve never felt so confident in the studio.”

As I said before the album impresses with a band that enjoys the scope and the space they have with these excellent arrangements. Robin McKelle’s interpretation is also totally in line with the band and so we have here an outstanding album of very well-known songs presented in a new and very inspiring way.

Robin McKelle is on tour in Europe in March, April and May where she will present the new album. Nir Felder will be touring with her so this looks quite interesting. All tour dates are published on her website:


And here is the complete album on Spotify: