CD reviews

Kairos 4Tet feat. Emilia Mårtensson – “The Body Keeps the Score”

Kairos 4Tet feat. Emilia Mårtensson – The Body Keeps the Score (CD/video review by Jane Mann)

Emilia Martensson (left) with Adam Waldmann (foreground). Publicity photo

  It is always a treat to hear the lovely voice of Swedish singer Emilia Mårtensson. Here she is with old friends, the MOBO Award-winning Kairos 4Tet, fronted by saxophonist/composer Adam Waldmann with a taster from a new album not yet released. Waldmann wrote The Body Keeps the Score about his beloved grandmother Rena, who died of dementia aged 97 in 2017. He explains why it has been released early, on what would have been her 100th birthday: “Like most of us, I’ve been left heartbroken seeing recent events unfold around the world. The loss of loved ones in devastating numbers and the actions of some governments has been hard to process. Human lives reduced to mere statistics. At the same time, I am deeply inspired and full of gratitude for all the brave people on the front-line saving lives and keeping society functioning. With all that in mind, I’d like to share this song written in Rena’s memory. It was due for release later in the year on a new album but now felt like the right time.” The piece is an ode to Rena, one of that extraordinary generation, who landed as a refugee in England in 1948. After fleeing Nazi occupied Poland, a spell making bricks in a work camp in Siberia, and then escape via Russia, the Caspian Sea and Beirut, she made it to a resettlement camp near Brighton, where her son, Waldmann’s father, spent his first few years. Despite her harrowing early life, she was a loving and optimistic person, whose motto was “tomorrow may be a better day”. It’s a beautiful song but the final repetitions of “Good-bye” are heart-breaking. Dementia is unbearably cruel – at what point can you say goodbye? There is extra resonance now – so many people have not been able to say goodbye to their dying relatives and loved ones because of the ghastly pandemic. The piece has that characteristic Kairos 4Tet trait of being both folk and jazz at the same time, with each member of the band making their contribution to a finely crafted whole. Waldmann’s tone is dreamy, breathy alongside Mårtensson’s clear, pure reading of Waldmann’s lyrics. They are buoyed up by the long standing Kairos rhythm section, all jazz stars in their own right: Danish bassist Jasper Høiby (Phronesis, Planet B, Ana Silvera), pianist Ivo Neame (Phronesis, Marius Neset) and drummer Jon Scott (Sons of Kemet, Mulatu Astatke). The a video, made by Carl Ulrich Ross-Mohl is HERE . It is filmed in the studio – the delicacy and intelligence of each performance is palpable. The Body Keeps the Score is available from all usual digital outlets and can be downloaded from Kairos4Tet’s Bandcamp.  

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