|Cecilia Stalin at the Ashmolean Oxford, April 2012
Photo credit: Nick Atkins/ Oxford Jazz Festival
(Ashmolean Dining Room, Oxford, part of the Oxford Jazz Festival. 5th April 2012. Review by Catherine Marks)
Swedish jazz singer Cecilia Stalin practically glowed under the red lights in her red polka dot jumpsuit on Thursday evening in the Ashmolean’s Dining Room. Performing with a trio of Rod Youngs – drums, Esben Tjalve – piano and Ben Hazelton – double bass, Cecilia created a very intimate gig through her interactions with the band and her chatty musings in between songs with the audience.
Stalin has impressive range and flexibility and timbre, from sustained vibrato to percussive almost beat boxing sounds. She was presenting her new album Step Like a Giant based on John Coltrane’s music, with her own lyrics, although admittting that the project felt like stepping on holy ground. She sang a beautiful version of ‘Naima’, with one of those wonderful bass lines that’s well on its way before you’re even realised it’s begun. And her version of ’Central Park West’ was perhaps one of the loveliest moments of the night for the band, with unhurried, brushed drum-strokes and seamless shifts between tonalities. Cecilia took her time, being confident enough to leave large pauses where they were needed.
The very last song of the evening was based on Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’, the title track of her latest release. Cecilia coaxed the Ashmolean audience to take part in singing along with the main theme slowed right down to a really easy-going pace. The melodic sequence didn’t come easily to us, but I know for a fact that I wasn’t the only one humming it all the way home.