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REVIEWS - CD "Spring in Bangkok"

Aki Takase/Lauren Newton "Spring in Bangkok"

Pianist Aki Takase and vocalist Lauren Newton have a lot in common. Both have long left their respective native countries to make Germany their home and are familiar with the piano-vocals duet format. Takase has had a fruitful collaboration with singer Maria Joao and Newton has followed the same road with pianist Patrick Scheyder . Therefore, it was just a matter of time before their paths would cross as they did on that September evening in Berlin that apparently conjured images of Spring in Bangkok . One can only regret that both artists did not meet earlier judging by the results of this first encounter. They produce sparks throughout a varied and tasteful program that is alternately whimsical, pastoral, lyrical, abstract, and dark, even chilling "Absturz Und Wiedergeburt." A truly collaborative effort, the two musicians take turns to move the music in any given direction, but what is most impressive is Takase's and Newton's capacity at renewing themselves. They neither get into a rut nor rely on well-tried tricks. The pianist makes the best use of all the resources her instrument has to offer while the singer's voice goes through countless mutations--sometimes at the drop of a hat--and on occasions hints at her operatic background. Newton seldom resorts to actual words, but the German language lends itself well to her vocalisms ("Das Scheint Mir Wichtig"). This live date confirms Takase's ability to tackle many styles and could very well be Newton's most accessible work to date. Highly recommended.
Laurence Donohue-Greene, AllAboutJazz-New York 2006

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