Caroll Vanwelden is a Belgian singer and a graduate of the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama, but only after having passed her engineering degree in Brussels. Shakespeare Sonnets 2 is, needless to say, the second album of Vanweldens where she puts the bard’s sonnets to music. It’s out now on Jazznarts and my copy is downloaded from HIRESAUDIO.

Ok, I know this concept sounds a bit far-fetched and it really shouldn’t work, but the language used is interesting, involving and when combined with the jazz music herein is really pretty infectious. This is not noodly, or jazz that you need a beard, a pipe and a degree in pseudology to appreciate, indeed Since Brass Nor Stone, the third tune on the record, has a drum line that is veering towards drum and bass…it’s really very good.

The main course here is of course Vanwelden’s voice itself. It is modern sounding, powerful and at times playful…much like the sonnets themselves.  The music is likewise pretty upbeat and modern sounding and has elements of latin and Eastern European flavours thrown in for good measure at times. Thomas Siffling on the flugelhorn and trumpet weaves his magic in and around the tunes without ever forcing himself to the forefront and never doing anything but complimenting Vanwelden’s beautifully toned voice. Rodrigo Villalon on drums and percussion is a bit of a highlight and with Mini Schulz’ contrabass the duo underpin the tunes with finesse and a deft touch.


The tune that really does it for me on this record is How Oft When Thou My Music which has some beautifully piano playing with the soft and slightly mournful horn accompanying Vanwelden’s voice…really lovely.

OK, I don’t read Shakespeare and wouldn’t know one of the sonnets if they stepped up and slapped me round the chops with their ballow, but that doesn’t mean that this album is difficult or only for those with a good grounding in English literature. It’s really accessible, very enjoyable indeed and should appeal to a pretty wide audience and not just the jazzsters.

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