Julia Hülsmann: Kiss From A Rose


Kiss From A Rose


Julia Hulsmann (piano)


The End of a Summer (ECM 2079)

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Julia Hulsmann (piano),

Marc Muellbauer (bass), Heinrich Köbberling (drums)


Composed by Seal


Recorded: Oslo, Norway, March 2008


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

There are many ways to turn a pop song into a lush jazz tune. Here, without being academic or pompous, German pianist Julia Hülsmann teaches us one such way, carving a highly enjoyable piece that reveals its delicately swinging beauty second after second. Hülsmann knows this terrain: her first three records (on the German ACT label) saw her accompanying Norwegian Rebekka Bakken, Italian Anna Lauvergnac and German Roger Cicero, who all sing on the border between jazz and pop. Invited by ECM to record with her trio alone, Hülsmann tackles this hit by British pop star Seal.

Right from the start, the song's three basic chords are stated twice by the piano, with slight dissonance and much space between them. Even before the bass introduces the chorus, followed by the whole trio dealing with the melody, we're far from the overproduced original pop song, and deep into jazz playing. Each instrument, by the quality of its timbre and phrasing, is a true voice, and space is the keyword. The space between each player allows them to fully interact, and space between notes lets those resonate, suggesting the harmonic atmosphere rather than stuffing it with sounds. And the paradox is that, at a slower pace and with fewer instruments than the original, this cover more firmly grips the listener's attention, unfolding its harmonic, melodic and rhythmic surprises at a slow, majestically swinging pace. A beautiful lesson in transforming pop songs into jazz tunes, indeed!

Reviewer: Thierry Quénum

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