Indra and bassist Thomas Sejthen on Thursday night at A-Trane, Berlin.
Singer Indra Rios-Moore presented her new Impulse album “Heartland” in Berlin on Thursday night. Produced by Larry Klein, it features eleven songs in a well-chosen repertoire which includes Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Duke Ellington, and two traditionals.
I had the chance to talk to her a couple of hours before her gig at the A-Trane: “I was lucky enough to grow up in a house that was full of music from all around the world. My mum was kind of a frustrated musician. She never became a musician but if things had gone differently, she would have been a beautiful musician because she had this deep appreciation for musicality of all kinds. She didn’t have a prejudice. If it moved her, she listened to it so that she brought it home. She was quiet an insisting woman. She really dominated the space that she was in so I had to listen to what she was interested in and she also played the same albums over and over and over again. So it’s just a reflection of my interest in the songs that I was listening to.”
And that appreciation for music of all kinds was also reflected in her first set which started out with the Alton & Rabon Delmore classic “Blue Railroad Train” and included the beautiful bolero “Hacia Donde” and a wonderful ballad written by Thomas Bartlett, “From Silence”. Her voice is like caramel, sweet and clear and always on the mark. I was missing the higher and lower registers in Duke Ellington‘s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”. She seemed to stay in the same key and wasn’t as comfortable when the song demanded some stretching out. But other pieces were like perfect interpretation, like the old Motown staple “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” which she presented in a moving, sensitive rendition.
Singer Indra on Thursday night at Berlin’s A-Trane.
Her band included her husband, saxophonist Benjamin Traerup from Denmark where they lived for several years, Uffe Steen on guitar and Thomas Sejthen on bass, both also from Denmark. So with no piano and no drums, the whole affair was a very intimate and subtle one.
Regarding the work of producer Larry Klein, “he was sensing whether we were all really engaged. We didn’t do too many takes of each tune. It took three days to record. It was kinda like quick and dirty. He wraps the sound in a warm blanket. He knew from the start that our sparsity, that clean sound that we have which is pretty Nordic in its influence, was something that needed to stay.” In fact, that Nordic influence and the sparsity she is talking about, was clear during the whole set and is also pretty much in the foreground on her version of Pink Floyd‘s “Money”, for example.
So what is it about the Danish musicians then? “Danish Jazz musicians are not in a rush to show you what they can do. They don’t feel the need to show off. There is this natural moodiness to the sound universe that they create.”
Benjamin Traerup, Indra’s saxophonist and husband, on Thursday night at A-Trane, Berlin.
Indra also has a very charming and sympathetic stage presence and she actually talks to her audience which wasn’t always like this: “I had terrible stage fright when we started playing together. It was like taking a shit in front of somebody.”