Elina Duni: A Time to Remember review | John Fordham’s jazz album of the month

Albanian-born Elina Duni sounds intensely like herself while drawing on a variety of influences, as her impeccable trio back her with diamond-bright sounds

It’s sometimes said that jazz vocals are supposed to sound like the singer, not the song. Departed legends from Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald to Mark Murphy and Betty Carter have epitomised that, as idiosyncratic muses such as Cécile McLorin Salvant and Gretchen Parlato continue to do today. But few contemporary jazz-influenced singers manage to sound so intensely like themselves while drawing on such a variety of genres, languages, and cultural backstories as the Albania-born vocalist Elina Duni.

A Time to Remember is Duni’s ninth album and second with the UK’s Rob Luft (guitar), Fred Thomas (piano/percussion), and Switzerland’s Matthieu Michel (flugelhorn) – a trio impeccably attuned to her ability to convey intensity with the most delicate yet diamond-bright sounds, cannily improvising in ways that stretch the songs without disrupting Duni’s surefooted control over their shape.

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