Pearls – the mere word can reel off a movie in our imagination. Depending on character or experience, this feature may turn out to be a drama, a comedy or the documentary of a passionate affair. One of us thinks of pearls as jewelry, another may be reminded of a particularly tropical deep sea dive, a third, who may just happen to be a biologist, of the calcareous concretions of a shelled mollusk. The fact that Céline Rudolph, herself „a jewel of European jazz vocals“ according to the French radio station TSF, most likely thinks of the poetic and philosophical aspects of „Pearls“, is made clear in the title track of her new album, her eighth long-player overall. She sings gently and sensually of the pearls that inhabit her mind, calling them souvenirs that she carefully preserves – in subtly layered harmonies, strong verses or exciting improvisations. Typical of the sound of the whole album are the sparkles of the Wurlitzer and the warm Fender Rhodes, the energetic drums and the earthy bass lines, plus the acoustic guitar, Céline’s instrument of choice ever since her childhood. The pearl fisher from Berlin sailed to Brooklyn for this recording/co-production with drummer and producer Jamire Williams, whose musical résumé boasts names like Herbie Hancock, Solange Knowles, John Mayer, or Robert Glasper. The resulting „Pearls“ make up a complex and beautiful album, somewhere in between all of these musical poles, always intriguing and captivating, never a dull moment.

„When I make music, I am right there, completely in the here and now,“ says Céline Rudolph. „Every tone holds my whole life. So I celebrate existence, and at the same time you will hear how much this existence hurts.“ The vocalist clearly lives in the moment and simultaneously experiences it as music. As when she heard drummer Jamire Williams for the first time in a club in Berlin a couple of years ago. „ He was the sideman that night, but I was centripetally drawn into the energy that emanated from Jamire – such enormous power, a thundering whirlwind. It electrified me and stirred my own inner whirlwind. „ As curious as she is, the vocalist started looking for more music from Jamire that very night and soon listened to his band Erimaj on repeat. When she found out that this group was on tour a little later, Céline booked a flight to Paris, watched their set and spoke to the drummer afterwards. The enthusiasm is mutual. After some talk and lots of listening, Jamire joins the project as producer. „We met in London in January in the smallest backstage area in the world, “Pizza Express”, and listened to demos of my songs. After two hours of intense listening in these 15 square feet, we selected the songs. Only a month later, we booked the session in the Brooklyn Recording studio, a place full of a huge variety of keyboards – Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, Ace Tone Organ, Moog.“

Also in the band are Argentine pianist and keyboarder Leo Genovese from the Esperanza Spalding group, bass player Burniss Traviss, known for collaborations with rapper Common or pianist Jacky Terrasson, Ellis Marsalis disciple John Ellis on saxophone and Céline‘s longtime colleague and partner Lionel Loueke, with whom she also recorded her last album „Obsession“, on guitar and vocals. Together with the singer-songwriter Josh Mease she adds new lyrics to her own songs in Brooklyn. „I tell stories and paint pictures. Josh dives into my world and together we write the lyrics to „Aumbaeleo“ and „Be With You“. It is important to me that the songs do not change with new lyrics. My melodies, sung without words up until then, already had a certain sound, which I wanted to keep alive in the new lyrics. In addition, in Brooklyn I wrote new chords to „Pearls“, which shine just a little more brightly to me. The same applies to the ballad „La Caravane“, which is now framed by asymmetrically arranged chord progressions. The new environment inspires me.“

During rehearsals near Times Square in Manhattan, the enthusiasm of the musicians is palpable. Complex compositions are transformed into living and breathing music. „It was crazy, but in the best possible way,“ says Jamire Williams. „I‘ve never heard anything like Céline‘s music, she writes in such a unique way, and her vocal sound is second to none. Her vibes and flow in connection with what our band has created make this production so special.“ From November to February, everything is in rapid progress, and soon the musicians are in the aforementioned Brooklyn Recording Studio in Cobble Hill for three days and nights. In addition to the songs, they also just go ahead and jam. One night, sound engineer Andy likes what he hears so much, he just presses record. „ Leo and I join in, and we fly across different landscapes while Andy drops in live effects on my voice. That‘s how „Dim Lights“ is born. The mood in the studio is intense, we inspire each other and play with great respect and dedication.“ Like this, as if in flight, eleven songs and a few improvised tracks are produced, which can now be heard on the present album. They are pearls that continue to inspire our imaginary movie, sometimes poetic, sometimes dramatic, always passionate and extraordinary, just the way we’ve come to know and expect from Céline Rudolph.

PEARLS lyrics & music Céline Rudolph 6:02
ON THE WAY lyrics Céline Rudolph , music Céline Rudolph & Rüdiger Krause 5:04
LA CARAVANE lyrics & music Céline Rudolph 4:40
BE WITH YOU lyrics Céline Rudolph & Josh Mease, music Céline Rudolph 2:31
C’EST UN LOVE SONG lyrics & music Céline Rudolph 5:29
WHERE SHALL I GO lyrics Céline Rudolph , music Céline Rudolph & Rüdiger Krause 4:30
I’M OLD FASHIONED lyrics Johnny Mercer / jam 2:00
O SILÊNCIO DAS ESTRELAS Lenine & Dudu Falcão 5:08
IN BETWEEN jam by Céline Rudolph/ Lionel Loueke/ Leo Genovese/ Burniss Travis/ Jamire Williams 0:38
AUMBAELEO music Céline Rudolph, lyrics Céline Rudolph & Josh Mease 6:26
LE VENT DU NORD music Céline Rudolph 6:06
SONG FROM THE IN-BETWEEN lyrics Céline Rudolph/ jam 1:34
L’ASCENSEUR POUR L’ÉQUINOXE lyrics & music Céline Rudolph 5:24
DIM LIGHTS jam by Céline Rudolph/ Leo Genovese/ Burniss Travis/ Jamire Williams 7:08

Céline Rudolph ・ voice, acoustic guitar, string arrangements
Lionel Loueke ・ acoustic & electric guitar, vocals
Leo Genovese ・ fender rhodes, acoustic piano, farfisa organ, wurlitzer, acetone organ, mini moog, background vocals
Burniss Travis ・ acoustic & electric bass, background vocals
Jamire Williams ・ drums, background vocals
John Ellis ・ bass clarinet
Kamila Glass, Maciej Strzelecki, Anastasia Maschkowski, Leslie Riva  ・ strings
Andy Taub ・ live effects

Strings recorded at A-TRANE STUDIO BERLIN 2013 by HOLGER SCHWARK
Cover photography by JORDANA SCHRAMM 
Released 2019 by obsessions

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