The refreshing, easy-going and authentic vocals and song commentary of Erik Leuthäuser from the stage of the well-known Jazz club in Berlin – A-Trane, is the platform for his latest new album release on Mons Records. Released on Friday (Feb 14, 2020) as a Live recorded album titled – In the Land of Irene Kral and Alan Broadbent: Live at A-Trane Berlin. This is an album worth having in your Jazz collection that is packed with eighteen gems of a younger generation honouring the Jazz of yesteryear while adding the liberal celebration of the 21st century.
Erik Leuthäuser is an award-winning young German singer, who has consistently been winning jazz vocal competitions over the last few years. He’s notable sang background vocals for Quincy Jones, George Benson, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jacob Collier. And is a member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Germany. Based on his experiences as a young gay man in the city of Berlin, his choice to express himself in honesty and dedication is very evident throughout this album and if you choose to explore his career thus far.
In the mid-1970s, the American singer Irene Kral recorded the albums “Where Is Love” and “Gentle Rain” with the pianist Alan Broadbent. Together with pianist Wolfgang Köhler, the Berlin-based singer Erik Leuthäuser has revived these wonderful gems once again after forty-plus years. With dazzling transparency, they allow the pieces to sound intriguing and sensitive in a very personal way. And I was struck by how quickly Leuthäuser fully captured the full attention of the audiences with his sensitive storytelling both in his singing and commentary.
I got the strong sense that Leuthäuser and Köhler must have been deeply impacted by the artistry of Irene Kral and Alan Broadbent. I went onto YouTube and found the full Irene Kral’s 1974 album “Where Is Love” as well as “Gentle rain“. After listening to both these historical albums I really felt the fine and joyous passion of Kral and Broadbent. Understanding Leuthäuser’s decision to record the songs while performing in front of an unprepared audience, rather than in a studio. Does this choice of live recording contribute to the intensity of the recording? Absolutely!
As is my way, off went all outside communication tools, the office studio door shut tight, I cranked up the volume! I very quickly felt that my office studio chair was somehow magically transported to the A-Trane club in Berlin – front-row, as I listened to the recording, witnessing some intoxicating, meaningful play unfold before me. Major kudos to the singing, piano playing and the commentary which for me was the glue that made it all come together.
Leuthäuser says: “It was always a dream of mine to make a live record, and now finally, I feel like I’m vocally prepared. I knew that Wolfgang Köhler liked this duo as much as I did, and the Berlin jazz club A-Trane was the ideal venue.”
“I’ve been devoted to singers like Irene Kral for a long time, and I’m fascinated by this combination of jazz and cabaret, with singers who tell stories in their songs. Irene Kral and Alan Broadbent are particularly interesting because of their duo format. On both their records, the two musicians complemented each other wonderfully. But they also selected really special songs, some of which were previously completely unknown. That combination of song selection and interaction affected me a great deal.”
The formulaic and now somewhat traditional CD review format seem to dissect elements of the instruments and or vocals with writing styles that churn out sterile content. I’ve never been interested in sticking to that convention. What is important to me is not the fact that someone can sing or play the piano well. In fact, that’s a guaranteed given on any album put out by Mons Records. What is personally and professionally important for me is that this duo worked in unified harmony and with grace to give the jazz community something enjoyable, and hearing the A-Trane’s audiences rousing appreciation is a clear confirmation of that.
Therefore, I honestly found it difficult to pick one top track from the eighteen on this enjoyable album. I will say that track 11 “The Underdog” with lyrics by Dave Frishberg which is the start of the second set of this Live recording, and is dedicated to Irene Karl album “Gentle Rain“. Has poignant lyrics that are very apt in a world polarised, making people feel insecure. One of the consequences is the entrenching need to excessively control others, with a selfish disrespect and devaluing of others perspective and time! Sadly making others feel like the underdog. The core poignant lyric line is: Every Underdog will Have Their day!
Purchase Album via Mons Records
Artists website: Erik Leuthäuser
Writer: Nigel J.
Photo Credits: Dovile Sermokas
YT Channel: Erik Leuthäuser – EPK/VIDEO by Sarnt Utamachote
Last modified: August 1, 2022