Jazz vocalist Connie Evingson is known for taking divergent musical paths. Her eclectic catalog of recordings for Minnehaha Music covers such varied themes as Peggy Lee, the Beatles, jazz elders, and most recently, "hot club" music a là Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli (Gypsy in My Soul, '04). Anticipating her next release, one would expect Evingson’s music to take another divergent turn. But a chance meeting with a young hot club group from Sweden inspired her to delve deeper into the Django style before moving in a new direction.
With only email for introductions and planning, Connie met The Hot Club of Sweden at Real Music Studio in Stockholm in January 2006, where they recorded 15 tunes in 2 1/2 days. The result, "Stockholm Sweetnin' ", is both stunning and uniquely Connie. Hot Club of Sweden guitarists Gustav Lundgren and Andreas Oberg and bassist Hampus Lundgren form the core rhythm section, with brilliant solo turns by each player. Guest artists from both sides of the Atlantic add their unique voices on saxophone, clarinet, accordion and percussion, but the most distinctive voice belongs to Connie, as vocalist, arranger, and lyricist (on Oberg's “Autumn in Kokkola”).
Of the fifteen tracks that fill Stockholm Sweetnin’, six are familiar hot club repertoire. “If I Had You,”
“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” and “Out of Nowhere” were often performed by Django himself; Duke Ellington, a Django favorite, is beautifully represented by “In a Sentimental Mood,” while another ballad, “Lover Man,” features young Swedish saxman Fredrik Lindborg. “After You’ve Gone” puts the spotlight on Minnesota clarinetist, Tony Baluff. Connie offers the rarely heard lyrics on Count Basie and Eddie Durham's “Swingin’ the Blues,” a tune she says she learned as a child from the Lambert, Hendricks and Ross record, "Sing a Song of Basie" .
Enriched by translation to gypsy swing, Quincy Jones’ “Stockholm Sweetnin'” (with lyrics by Jon Hendricks) bursts with slick guitar licks. The '40s classic “Comes Love,” with the sultry addition of Baluff’s clarinet, also benefits from its first hot club rendition. Dan Chouinard’s accordion and Connie’s clear articulation are essential to the success of Legrand’s “Windmills of My Mind” in its hot club debut, performed here in 3/4 time. Perhaps the most unusual choice for this collection is Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away,” lighter here than its usual presentation and highlighting the talented percussion of Marc Anderson.
Two tracks display Connie Evingson’s talents as a multi-lingual artist. “Bésame Mucho,” sung in Spanish, more often played as a hot club instrumental, breathes Latin color and charm, thanks in part to Joan Griffith’s introduction on Spanish acoustic guitar. “Si Tu Savais” by Georges Ulmer is another popular hot club instrumental given new life through Connie’s vocals, this time in French, transporting the listener to a small Paris café. The closing track is the beautiful original (music by Oberg, lyrics by Evingson), “Autumn in Kokkola,” evoking a coastal town in Finland where bonfires and lanterns mark the end of summer.
Connie owes her predilection for exploring diverse musical roots to the early influence of her father's jazz record collection and the musical icons of her own generation (the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Sting, Bonnie Raitt, etc.). With her three most recent releases charting on Jazzweek's Top 50 for eight weeks each (Gypsy in My Soul reaching #8) and a nomination for JazzWeek Vocalist of the Year in 2005, Evingson has become known as an artist who takes her listeners down new musical avenues.
"This collection makes me proud to be from Minneapolis! I can't put this lovely album away...["Stockholm Sweetnin' "] is high quality popular music that is both entertaining and intelligent!" -- Bruce Swedien, Producer and Recording Engineer for Quincy Jones, Dinah Washington, George Benson, Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and others
"I like being musically surprised. Connie's albums are always surprisingly different and expectedly delightful." — Michael Bourne, "Singers Unlimited" (WBGO, Newark, NJ)
“Her performances carry the aroma of red wine and filterless cigarettes, sensual, slightly decadent, and thoroughly wonderful.” --C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz