The Danish vocalist dazzled in her inaugural SD showcase, floating on the accompaniment of Sprague, Biggs and Weller.
Danish vocalist Sinne Eeg played her SD debut last night, a hastily organized but spectacularly successful concert that found her hooking up with guitarist Peter Sprague, bassist Gunnar Biggs and young drum phenomenon Charles Weller for the first time to a fully-packed house at the new Dizzy's in Pacific Beach.
Sprague got the heads-up on Eeg from former San Diegan Butch Lacy, and put this concert together on short notice with Chuck Perrin.
I've never seen so many people at the new Dizzy's since it opened, and I can pretty much guarantee that no one left unimpressed.
Eeg is a superb singer who also functions as an instrumentalist perhaps better than anyone I've seen in recent years. I often cringe when jazz vocalists launch into the obligatory "scat-chorus." Usually, it's the same tired "ooby-dooby-do" that we've all heard a million times before. Even worse, it's often a worked-out solo, (not very jazz like), or, should have been.
Not only does Eeg have a terrific voice, every time she took a chorus--it was with the same expertise and adventure that you would expect from a top-flight horn player. Very impressive.
Biggs opened with a languid walk full of sly turnarounds while Sprague knit a close weave of arpeggios and voice-leading to set the stage for Eeg's reading of "Come Rain Or Come Shine." Nimble, sure-pitched, with a remarkable absence of melisma, Eeg's phrasing is an even stronger asset.
Whether tackling bossa-novas, like her original, "Love Is A Time Of Year," which was powered by the strong cycling pings of Weller's ride cymbal over the groan of Bigg's half-notes, or racing through the boppish fervor of "It Might As Well Be Spring," Eeg's phrasing was right on the money. Her wordless solo was pliant and full of spontaneous ideas, and Sprague's uncanny balance of seamless precision with devil-may-care improvisational risks took things into a higher dimension.
As the evening progressed, Eeg's voice seemed to grow stronger by the minute, showcasing a different melodic side on her "country" original, "So Now You Know," orbiting straight-eighths around Sprague's hammered double-stops, or belting out the blues on an acrobatic version of "Comes Love," where she bent notes like a politician bends the truth.
Weller sketched a velocity tattoo on the form of "What A Little Moonlight Can Do," establishing a tempo fast enough to tire a cheetah, but Eeg soared above it, stress-free and swinging before handing the baton to the guitarist, who stirred country-licks and chunks of the blues into the bebop stew.
One of the enduring miracles of jazz is how virtuoso musicians can pull a concert like this off with little or no rehearsal despite having never played together before. Eeg is the real deal, something we've known forever about Sprague and Biggs, and Mr. Weller has arrived.