Elisabeth Lohninger | Beneath Your Surface

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Beneath Your Surface

by Elisabeth Lohninger

Comprised mostly of original compositions this album by vocalist Elisabeth Lohniger presents a view of European vocal traditions through "jazz colored glasses", featuring some of New York's finest groove and jazz masters.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Pour-quoi, pou-quoi pas
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
4:52 $0.99
2. Last Exit
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
7:03 $0.99
3. Beneath Your Surface
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
5:46 $0.99
4. I Remember
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
6:51 $0.99
5. Frag mich nicht, ob ich Dich liebe
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
4:27 $0.99
6. Lost in You
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
5:59 $0.99
7. Both Sides Now
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
4:26 $0.99
8. Home
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
5:39 $0.99
9. Ich hab vielleicht noch nie geliebt
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
5:30 $0.99
10. Sleep Slowly
Elisabeth Lohninger Quartet
3:18 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"A myriad of colors and facettes" - that is what comes to mind if one tries to describe Elisabeth Lohninger's vocal art. She has impressed audience and critics alike with her groove-emphasizing originals and her boundless joy in singing and making music. Her lyrics are deep and empowering; they take the listener on a journey to a place outside the boundaries of time and space.

Creativity and versatility have been Elisabeth Lohninger's companions down the road since her early musical beginnings in native Austria. Having performed in New York City's downtown music venues such as SOBs, the Knitting Factory, the 55 Bar and The Bitter End, Elisabeth Lohninger has also toured Europe extensively. European and American press calls her "brilliant" and comments on her music as "wonderfully emotional", "inspiring" and "flawless". Elisabeth started her performing career at age six, singing Austrian folksongs in three-part harmony with her sisters. Driven by her musical curiosity, she soon ventured into other stylistic directions and studied classical music and jazz, finishing her studies with a Masters degree in music.

In 1994 Elisabeth Lohninger relocated to New York City and teamed up with pianist Walter Fischbacher to co-found the duo "Perfect Roommates". This collaboration resulted in a CD called "Austrian LiedGood" and concerts at American and European Jazz Festivals (such as Texaco Jazz Festival, Chopin & Friends Festival/NYC, Jazz Festival Seeon/Germany). Her pop-soul album "Alien Lovers", released in 2000 under the alias Tera further portrays her stylistic versatility. In 2003 Elisabeth wrote, programmed and produced her first film score for Helena Smith's short film "I'm Thursdays" and promptly received the Wasserman Craft Award for Original Score (awarded during the First Run Film Festival, NYC). She has also co-produced and performed songs for TV shows such as "The Precinct", "Alias" and "One Life to Live". Since 2002 Elisabeth Lohninger is a faculty member at the prestigious New School Jazz Department in New York.

With her latest project titled "Beneath Your Surface" the vocalist returns to her jazz roots, from her own perspective, with lots of rhythm, passion and a highly talented band.



to write a review

Bill Donaldson, Jazz Improv Magazine

a haunting alto of suggestiveness and controlled force
Jazz may have originated in New Orleans as the mixture of numerous musical cultures catalyzed into a new expression that spread not only to the rest of the country, but eventually to the rest of the world to offer infinite possibilities for improvisation and affecting tales of the human experience. But now, it appears that New York City has become the melting pot for many things musical. Just as now-New Yorker Avishai Cohen has cultivated a market for the Sephardic musical influence he heard as a child in Israel, so has Richard Bona imbued numerous recordings with the colors suggested by his homeland of Cameroon. Just as Claudia Acuna has brought some of the stories from her Chilean homeland to the attention of listeners from her base in New York, so has Austrian-born Elisabeth Lohninger become an authentic interpreter there of some European vocal traditions seen through jazz-colored glasses.

With a haunting alto of suggestiveness and controlled force, Lohninger has chosen a song list for her latest CD, Beneath Your Surface, to combine intimations of sensuality with poetic observation, artistic sensibility with the compression of meaning within the songs. And the jazz influence makes itself known not through insistent swing - although some songs like "Last Exit" do swing - but through a harmonic vocabulary that elucidates the inherent profundity of apparently simple songs, otherwise unnoticed, with newly applied changes or unexpected rhythms. For example, "Lost In You" on the surface is an admission of unfettered love described in short declarative statements like "This time I see/Beyond the things/Distracting me./This song is yours./This joy is mine./We are one/You and I." But pianist Walter Fischbacher provides a strong presence in a minor-key vamp lightly played without adornment, Lohninger sings the words in broad, leaping intervals ending on ninths, and the omission of the final expected eighth beat in the 7/4 meter adds a degree of tension continuing throughout the track. On Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," the only song on the album not written by Lohninger, she lightens the approach and slows it down, as if in contemplation, as Fischbacher and bassist Steve Doyle back her up with mere whole tones, for the most part, giving her lots of space to develop the build-up to the song's final conclusion: "I really don't know love at all."

But then, Lohninger delivers songs in French and German, suddenly reminding the listener of her background, particularly as a result of the ease of her diction when she sings, say, "Pour-Quoi Pour-Quoi Pas." Reminiscent of some of Patricia Barber's singing in a narrow range from her most recent album recorded in France, Lohninger remains consistent with her stories of the unending variations within situations of love, instead of Barber's allusions to Greek myths or jarring use of metaphor. Even in German, Lohninger sings, albeit with a style that is unorthodox in the jazz idiom, and commands with all the romantic sternness that she can muster, "Frag Mich Nicht, Ob Ich Dich Liebe" (or "do not ask me if I love you"). The oddity of the piece is that it's consistent with the drama inherent in some German songs, from the tango-like mysteriousness of the chorus to the contrasting flowery tenderness of the bridge. Eventually, as expected, "Frag Mich Nicht..."concludes with a rousing climactic statement, as if the last act in a play, as Lohninger pulls out all the stops with a swelling crescendo and martial insistence. Interestingly, the trio backing her takes the material from what appears to be a song written in traditional form and modifies it into a more relaxed jazz adaptation. "Ich Hab Vielleicht Noch Nie Geliebt" ("perhaps I had no love"), once again, relies upon the trio's pulsating rhythm to animate the piece while Lohninger sings the melody in long tones, jarring at first with the second note seeming to be dissonantly off pitch but then offsetting the corresponding eighth note of the song for a logical parallel interval.

The consistent element of Lohninger's CD is the directness of strong emotion conveyed through song, from the power of reminiscence in "I Remember" to the appeal of the senses in "Home". With subtlety and grace, Elisabeth Lohninger has developed her own persona as a singer, unlike that of any other, and deserves a wider audience beyond those New York clubs, such as the 55 Bar and SOB's, where she appears.

Michael Schuman, Jazz News Magazine

a distinguished, soulful vocal sound, sightly breathy and highly individual
I first saw Elisabeth Lohninger and her band perform live at the 55 Bar in New York, where she's a regular, and her presence onstage was stunning, as was her lyrical depth and musical gut. Now she finally has released her first album as a leader, with the terrific band she has been performing with for a while now. This album was way overdue, especially coming from an artist of Ms. Lohninger's caliber and vision. Seven out of the ten tracks on "Beneath Your Surface" are penned by her, the rest is comprised of 2 German songs and a cover Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now". Ms. Lohninger is a very prolific writer, pushing the boundaries of the genre without ever losing the integrity of the song. There is some cool odd meter rhythm going on, next to a haunting ballad and a straight-forward high-speed piano groove tune. Walter Fischbacher on piano is supplying virtuosity and subliminal harmony, especially on the piano driven title track. Steve Doyle on bass is a competent and swinging player, and his solo on "Both Sides Now" distinguishes him as a melodic improviser. Hari Ganglberger on drums is an exciting if unusual choice for a jazz vocal record, his nervous energy drives the uptempo part of the CD.
Elisabeth Lohninger possesses the rare gift of a distinguished, soulful vocal sound, sightly breathy and highly individual. On the sexy opener "Pour-quoi, pour-quoi pas" she lightly talks her way through a groovy tune about the frustrations of dating, brings out her blues chops in "Last Exit Before Toll" and entices the listener with a tone of sweetness and longing in "I Remember". The ranginess of her voice becomes apparent on her cover of "Both Sides Now", and she finally surprises the listener with sparseness, innocence and soul on her closer, the lullaby "Sleep Slowly".
"Beneath Your Surface" definitely does Elisabeth Lohninger and her band justice and should finally put her on the map of great up and coming songstresses and writers in jazz.