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28 October 2014

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Silje steals the show
Silje Nergaard at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Silje Nergaard at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Last updated: 07 May 2004 1755 BST
lineNorwegian jazz songstress Silje Nergaard and her band put on an awesome show at the 2004 Cheltenham International Jazz Festival.

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Silje Nergaard
(official website)

Tord Gustavsen Trio
(official website)

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For me, Silje Nergaard and her support band were undoubtedly one of the highlights of this year's jazz festival. Her graceful, captivating voice was silky in tone and perfectly suited to the mellow nature of her music.

There's an engaging quality to her on stage - you really get the sense that she loves every minute of her performance and it seems to be naturally portrayed in her voice.

Silje Nergaard

Her songs are also well crafted and hugely enjoyable. She writes her own songs and performed some of them at the festival. Her compositions are excellent because she seems to have a complete understanding of her voice and what she can do with it.

Even her interpretations of other artists' work seen to have a unique feel to them. She sang a cover of Sting's 'If You Love Someone (Set Them Free)' and it was such an entertaining version that it had a life of its own.

Photo Gallery
(14 Pictures)

Catchy jazz tunes

I've heard her music before when I chanced upon one of her older albums. It was 'At First Light' (2001) and I was just listening to it out of curiosity. I found that I really enjoyed it. Musically, it was very appealing. The smooth, catchy jazz tunes were easy to like and it quickly became a favourite of mine.

In fact, she sang a song from that album called 'Japanese Blue' at the festival. It stood out as a silky smooth number with fantastically rich lyrics that, accompanied by some fine atmospheric jazz, was a delight to listen to.

Hearing Silje sing live, you can certainly say I'm a fan of her music! And after hearing the high praise from members of the audience on the way out, I somehow think I'm not the only one.

Fantastic support

I can't write this review without mentioning the outstanding performances of her support band. They were Tord Gustavsen on piano and keyboards, Harald Johnsen on bass, Jarle Vespetad on drums and Hallgrim Bratberg on guitar.

Tord Gustavsen

Tord on the piano was an absolute revelation. His control and technique were marvellous and he deservedly received generous applause from the audience. I think he's quite possibly one of the most accomplished jazz pianists I've ever heard playing live.

At one point he was playing both the piano and the Fender Rhodes keyboard. Such was his talent that he carried the dual performance off without making a single mistake.

Jarle Vespetad also merits a mention because his delicate touch at drums helped to underscore the rich, melodic feeling of the music. His understated performance underpinned the silky sound of the jazz and gave it an enticing beat.

Along with Silje, they make a very fine ensemble indeed. Here were five artists who really performed magnificently together. It was as if they were at the peak of their powers and the music flowed so naturally that it just couldn't fail.

Outstanding performance

My review for the collective efforts of Silje and her band may seem high on the praise but it was one of the most sophisticated and accomplished performances I've witnessed in a long time. Her striking voice was accompanied by some truly marvellous jazz. For me, it was hands down the best concert I've attended at this year's festival.

It was Silje's very first appearance at the Cheltenham International Jazz Festival and I'm hoping she returns next year because her performance and that of the excellent musicians around her warrants it.

Photo Gallery
(14 Pictures)

Review by Nic Baddeley

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