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Karin Krog - We Could Be Flying (1974)



Karin Krog - vocals
Steve Kuhn - keyboards
Jon Christensen - percussion, drums
Steve Swallow - bass guitar

An adventurous singer who is quite versatile, Karin Krog is able to sing anything from standards to fairly free improvisations. She made her recording debut in 1964, appeared at many jazz festivals in Europe in the mid-'60s, and in 1967, came to the U.S., performing and recording with the Don Ellis Orchestra and Clare Fischer's trio. A world traveler based in Europe, Krog has recorded fairly steadily through the years, using such sidemen as Kenny Drew, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Jan Garbarek, Ted Curson, Dexter Gordon, Palle Mikkelborg, Steve Kuhn, Steve Swallow, Archie Shepp, Bengt Hallberg, and John Surman; she has made records for Philips, Sonet, Polydor, and other European labels. --- Scott Yanow

Recorded for Polydor, six years after her landmark Joy album, this set features Norwegian jazz iconoclast Karin Krog in the electric company of keyboardist Steve Kuhn, drummer percussionist Jon Christensen, and Steve Swallow on one of his early electric bass dates. More song-oriented than her other vanguard dates, We Could Be Flying still showcases the singer in a restless, searching frame of creativity. Obviously influenced by the work Flora Purim had done with Return to Forever and the heyday of jazz-rock fusion, Krog nonetheless puts her indelible stylistic stamp on all the material here. The best tunes here were written by Kuhn, who seems to understand the subtlest nuances in Krog's performing style, as evidenced by "Meaning of Love," with its driven, wispy Latin rhythms and melodic lines that seem to bleed into one another, capturing the softness of Krog's enunciation. The seemingly rocked-up cover of Joni Mitchell's "All I Want" feels out of place here, the band feels stilted into trying to rein themselves into the conventional cut-time signature and fixed spaces where fills are almost unwelcome. While Mitchell's own version is far looser and spacier than this, the band seems to have misunderstood her original intent in this song. The co-write between Carla Bley and Krog on "Sing Me Softly of the Blues," finds the band back on its square, swinging the blues in cool nocturnal fashion with Christensen's swinging cymbal work carries the band underneath the singer's husky contralto. The finest moment here is the funky "Raindrops, Raindrops" written by Kuhn, where his electric piano and double-time bass and drums fall in just behind Krog's shimmering, airy performance. This recording is a fine document of its time, capturing its naivete, sense of adventure, and its willingness to step outside the jazz and vanguard box while never giving in to pop convention. Recommended. --- Thom Jurek

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