Final stages mixing 'In Between The Silence' a project with Francesco Lo Castro that commenced a little over three years ago. All original material: music by Lo Castro, words by Rosalie
“A Cracking Debut Album”
Martin Price, Fatea Magazine UK
“Rosalie & Rebecca take the listener to a special place… arrangements are thoughtful and original, sung and played with unaffected beauty.”
Alison Bentley, LondonJazzNews
“It’s glowing music, full of invention and a fulsome tribute to the lyrical legends that inspire it.”
Tony Benjamin, Bristol Post
“Top quality performance”
Martin Price, Fatea Magazine UK
“Sung with unaffected beauty”
Alison Bentley, LondonJazzNews
“Rosalie Genay: listen to her singing and you will want to dance!”
Irving Wardle, English writer and theatre critic
“Impressively performed… Particularly good were the vocal talents of Rosalie in Tamerlane, The Village Beautiful and Manja. The only problem: the songs only lasted about fifty minutes. Please again, and more!”
Review Tucholsky Cabaret by Ian King
Unusually, contemporary jazz vocalist Rosalie Genay first encountered Leonard Cohen’s songs as sung by Herman van Veen in Dutch – though, given that she was raised in the Netherlands, it’s not really that surprising.
She later discovered the original versions and they, too, made a mark on the young singer, as did the spare and strange lyrics of Tom Waits.
“Though they are both quite different as artists, there are similarities in their use of poetry and text, and a certain gloominess and earthiness that makes the songs resonate with real life,” she says, explaining why she has returned to those two songwriters for Realms, a project developed with pianist Rebecca Nash (whose musical career began in Bristol before heading off to the vibrant jazz scene of the Big Smoke).
Throughout their debut album Rebecca’s subtle harmonic washes and Rosalie’s easy, lilting vocals respectfully refresh familiar numbers like Bird on a Wire, Green Grass and If It Be Your Will and, in a nod to her roots, Rosalie even sings the Dutch version of Suzanne. It’s glowing music, full of invention and a fulsome tribute to the lyrical legends that inspire it.
Singer Rosalie Genay and pianist Rebecca Nash have chosen to rework songs by those most gravel-voiced singers, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. Genay’s pure voice and Nash’s lyrical piano bring a completely new, beguiling slant on well-loved songs, with their excellent London-based band.
Waits’ Green Grass is piano-less, the clarity of Genay’s voice heightened byAndrew Bain’s percussion and Jules Jackson’s bass. Leo Richardson’s tenor spells out the chords, sounding a little like Joe Henderson playing with Rickie Lee Jones. Genay’s voice has no artifice, and when she sings: ‘Come closer don’t be shy’, it sounds like a love song, with none of Waits’ slightly menacing overtones.
Waits’ Sins of My Father has melting Fender Rhodes phrases recurring over a gentle backbeat, the violence of the lyrics (‘Carving out a future with a gun and an axe/I’m way beyond the gavel and the laws of man’) turned into a haunting dream. Waits’ Yesterday is Here is beautifully arranged, the instruments subtly added and subtracted, opening with an opulent tenor solo and sinewy bass. Genay’s limpid delivery lets the nostalgic words speak for themselves: ‘…well, today is grey skies/tomorrow is tears/you’ll have to wait till yesterday is here.’
Although Genay is Dutch, there are undertones of Scandinavian singers, perhaps Josefine Cronholm or Sidsel Endresen, with deliciously dissonant Fender Rhodes chords creeping between the vocal lines. Nash and Genay’s own song, Family of Things sits at the centre of the album, with a spacey Tord Gustavson sensibility and delicate brushwork from Bain. Richardson’s luscious tenor trails languorously though the chords.
Cohen’s You Know Who I Am repeats the phrase ‘changing from nothing to one’ like a mantra over the intro. Genay alternates lines in English and Dutch (her own translation) with a direct urgency, far from Cohen’s sardonic humour, her voice beautifully framed by Nash’s liquid piano phrases. If it Be Your Will, in 7 with a heart-tugging Fender Rhodes solo, has an exquisitely gentle, Gretchen Parlato-like drum ‘n’ bass feel. Bain and Jackson work together regularly elsewhere, and their rapport is strong on this track, bass pinning the groove to the fidgety drumming. Cohen’s Who by Fire poses its oblique questions over a funky 5/4 beat. Genay has folk-like qualities here, with strong bluesy inflections- she can sound a little like Christine Tobin, but with higher vocal tones.
The imaginative arrangement of Bird on a Wire takes a modal route- it’s not immediately clear where the root is, which makes the melody sound completely fresh. Jackson’s rhythmic ostinato bass line (he’s also a drummer in another life) is especially effective, allowing Nash and Bain to play more freely. The iconicSuzanne appears twice on the album, sung in both English and Dutch. (Herman van Veen’s translation.) The treatment is spacious and slow, Nash’s fine piano solo almost singing too.
Like Suzanne herself, Rosalie Genay and Rebecca Nash take the listener to a special place, where you find new things in familiar songs. The arrangements are thoughtful and often very original, sung and played with unaffected beauty.
by Alison Bentley, 8th March 2014
Jazz albums built around the songs of iconic rock performers are all the rage at the present time. This debut album from Rosalie Genay and Rebecca Nash is released at the same time as Barb Jungr’s Hard Rain (the music of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen) and Christine Tobin’s 1000 Kisses Deep (songs by Leonard Cohen)
Genay (vocals) and Nash (keyboards) also explore the Leonard Cohen songbook, but additionally include interpretations of three songs by Tom Waits – and an excellent job they make of it! The high quality of the tracks on Realms demonstrates how careful song-selection, sensitive arrangements and top quality performance can add depth and meaning to even oft-covered tracks such as Cohen’s Suzanne and Bird on a Wire.
Having seen Rosalie and Rebecca perform these songs live, as a duo, I can also vouch for the capacity of their singing and playing to capture a mood, and an audience. On the album, the songs are enhanced further by the sensitive addition of Andrew Bain (percussion), Jules Jackson (bass) and Leo Richardson (saxophone) to most tracks.Rosalie Genay is a fluid and evocative singer who originates from the Netherlands (some tracks include sections of Dutch lyrics) – she also studied in Sydney, Australia. She has a clear, unaffected delivery and no distinctive vocal mannerisms to detract from her delivery; the result is that she gives maximum weight to the meaning and emotional sense of the lyrics (particularly important with a singer-poet like Cohen). Rebecca Nash has a background in both classical piano and jazz, having studied at Trinity College for her Masters. Her style is also pure and untrammelled. Her improvisations are economical and tasteful, with no attempts at flashy technique and no reliance on hackneyed jazz phrases. It is perhaps one of the attractions of exploring the new Great North American Songbook that modern jazz performers are able to avoid the repetition inherent in playing older jazz standards.
Of the five Leonard Cohen songs, the more overtly popular tunes seem to work particularly well. You Know Who I Am is a fairly straight reading of the original but taken further by inventive piano and sax solos, which explore the song structure and take it in new directions. Bird on a Wire is tastefully jazzed up by being set to a latin (bossa nova) beat, providing space for Rosalie to improvise around the refrain, rather than just singing it straight. Rebecca’s Fender Rhodes solo is typically lightly swinging and tightly structured. There are two versions of Suzanne – a slower English version and a slightly faster on with Dutch lyrics. They are sung fairly straight to the originals – but it is a measure of the quality of the musicians that the two piano solos are very different, but equally complementary to the song. Who by Fire is sung as a sultry, smoky piece of jazz, propelled along by a double-time drum rhythm, (which gives Andrew Bain a chance to stretch out), while opening up for the electric piano solo and for Leo Richardson to blow a little on his sax solo. Finally, If It Be Your Will is a ballad with, again, a faster, stuttering underpinning rhythm.
The three Tom Waits tracks, are all taken as ballads. Sins Of My Father is quite a straight, rock-style reading, with another strong jazz piano solo from Rebecca. A slow, cool sax solo introduces Yesterday is Here, leading into a torchy vocal from Rosalie, and another sax solo before the closing verses. Green Grass is another cool, intimate piece of club jazz, which builds from an initial percussion beat with the gradual addition of bass and then saxophone, giving maximum space for Rosalie to explore every nuance of the lyrics.
Finally, mention should be made of Family of Things, an original composition by Nash and Genay. Again, a slow ballad, it builds upon the lessons learnt from the duo’s exploration of the cover songs, to show how Rebecca and Rosalie have evolved their own style. This is a piece of contemporary jazz which demonstrates how meaningful lyrics can be enhanced by creative arrangements and crisp, challenging but lyrical solos without falling into cliché or stylistic plagiarism. It encapsulates the approach of Genay and Nash – tasteful, poetic and swinging. This really is a cracking debut album for the duo – lets hope there will be many more to follow!