The work of Karin Krog may be unfamiliar to much of the world, but in her native Norway and Scandinavia at large, shes practically a household name. This says much about the local enthusiasm for post-bop jazz but also about the tyranny of distribution: until 1994, Krogs albums werent available in theUSAor UK, meaning three decades of recordings were waiting to be discovered. In theory, until now, she hasnt had any regularly distributed albums in the US or the UKthis is certainly the first one even marketed/promoted in here and in England. With this anthology of her best recordings from 1963 to 1999curated with Krogs own inputwe hope to set the record straight.
To listen to opening track As A Wife Has A Cow is to jump into the deep end. Its 54 seconds of words, voice, and technology, a looped, echoing reading of a Gertrude Stein poem. The effect is disquieting and alien but deeply rhythmic, tooand thats KrogsUSP. Dont Just Sing takes in these spoken experiments along with free jazz, improvisation, standards, contemporary covers, and electronic manipulation. It features some of the best regarded jazz players in Europe, not least her partner, John Surman, the English saxophonist/multi- instrumentalist and composer. Like Annette Peacock, Krog experiments with solo vocals run through electronics and performs with progressive electric jazz combos and traditional acoustic groups as well.
Krog began singing jazz in the 1950s and started her first band in 1962. She not only had two tracks on the first ever Norwegian jazz LP, Metropol Jazz, but also became the first Norwegian jazz artist to record and release a full album (1964s By Myself on the Philips label). Her sound developed as technological advances made new recording techniques possible, and she quickly embraced the album as the perfect form to contain her sonic experiments. There is such a thing as too much manipulation, says Krog today.
Recorded with tenor saxophonist Jan Garbarek and bass player Arild Andersen, 1968s Joy is regarded as her masterwork. Tracks from it can be found on this compilation, as can a couple of interesting covers: Joni Mitchells All I Want and Bobby Gentrys Ode To Billy Joe, both of which show how Krog brought jazz aesthetics to pop songs of the day. I remember that there was a lot of buzz around Blue, and Joni Mitchell is, as everybody knows, a very talented singer and songwriter, says Krog in the new liner notes.
Glass" and Tystnaden" are the two previously unreleased finds from the archives, the former written for a British documentary in 1997, the latter a soundscape improvisation from a 1963 studio session with Lars Werner on piano, Kurt Lindgren on bass, and Janne Carlsson on drums. The compilation rounds off with the Psalm movement from John Coltranes monumental piece, A Love Supreme. Krogs version came at suggestion of the man himself. It was John who pointed to the text on the inner sleeve of the Impulse! LP and said, ‚Karin, look. Why dont you sing this? she remembers.