Fatima Spar & JOV: “The Voice Within”

Music lovers have long been familiar with Fatima Spar's unique voice. Still, listening to her new project with the Jazzorchester Vorarlberg is like hearing her again for the first time. She floats, growls and preaches in her usual manner but this is no Eastern-inflected swing, the way she's sung it for years withThe Freedom Fries: this is something new.

The original idea was to make a Turkish-language swing album–but in early discussions it quickly became clear that the project could be much more than that. And so the wheels began to turn: in a matter of months, Fatima Spar and her longtime artistic collaborator, Philipp Moosbrugger, wrote a brand new program of music; arranger Philip Yaeger adapted it for the Jazzorchester Vorarlberg and before long the 16-piece big band found itself in an almost-forgotten vintage studio in Liechtenstein and the record was made.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the golden age of big bands is mostly past but this project proves just the opposite: the album draws from classic songwriting, electronic music, rhythm & blues, and jazz, combining the best of modern music with time-honored big band conventions. The ensemble is exciting and flexible, ranging from reserved intimacy to rambunctious exultation–and over it all wafts the flexible, unmistakable voice of Fatima Spar.

The sold-out premier at Spielboden in Dornbirn, a performance at the celebrated Jazzfestival Saalfelden, the crowning event to date–the presentation of their album The Voice Within at Vienna’s Konzerthaus in 2015–have all been hailed by audiences and critics alike. And that’s only the beginning… (py)

Jazz masters of old would have tipped their hats, strangers to the genre feel an itch to dance, and even cultural snobs are forced to loosen their ties. In short: high marks, all down the line. (Skug/Curt Cuisine)

Photo © Martin Dudek 2013.