Denmark’s Christina and Carsten Dahl make sweet music together-in more than one way, for the couple are a dynamic jazz duo, and they are also husband and wife. Denmark’s first couple of jazz possesses a love for one another that is evident on stage, yet it does not come across as syrupy. Their respect for one another as musicians one would assume would contain an element of bias, but they handle this too with class and professionalism.
On Saturday, August 11, the Dahl’s performed at Festival Vancouver in the acoustically magnificent First Nations Longhouse on the beautiful campus of the University of British Columbia. Dressed in a black vest, white tee shirt, faded blue jeans, and casting her shoes aside to perform in her bare feet, the tall slender Christina blew warm fat notes from the bell of her saxophone. Carsten dressed equally casually in a black festival golf shirt, blue jeans and white tennis shoes, proved to be equally adept at up tempo piano chops as he was playing more mellow tunes.
It is difficult to choose a song that was perhaps their best performance because each was performed with magnificent aplomb. The Dahls are perhaps two of the most emotive musicians that I have witnessed in a long time and this may in part be attributed to many of their original compositions being drawn from personal experience such as "Movements," and the humorous encore "It’s Too Early To Wakeup."
The song "Movements" brought back to my mind hearing "Peter And The Wolf," on an LP when I was a little boy. "Movements" is filled with drama, tension and impending tragedy. While flying to South Africa to perform, the plane they were traveling on was caught up in a typhoon. Several high pitched chords from Christina’s saxophone tell the story of the plane experiencing some significant drops in altitude. Carsten’s frenzied piano chops tell of the mounting anxiety, deep dark notes spell doom and as the music reaches a crescendo the listener is caught up in the fear. This song however has a happy ending or it would not have been played by Carsten and Christina.
The previously mentioned encore "It’s Too Early To Wakeup," was at the opposite end of the emotional scale but it too was drawn from a real life experience. Christina’s original composition was authored after the Dahl’s third daughter was born. The opening bars are filled with sleepy, sluggish notes that protest having to awake early in the morning, after only a few hours sleep due to a concert the previous night. The song represents a departure from jazz and is a fabulous blues ballad, with a good groove. Christina once again blows more of those fat sumptuous notes.
Other highlights included the "Song At The End Of The Road," in which the harmonization between the piano and the saxophone suggest two old friends conversing and reminiscing.
Once again, the Festival Vancouver organizers provided music fans of this west coast city with spectacular world class musicians. My only regret is that time did not permit me to take in more concerts. Regardless of where you live, you should bookmark the Festival Vancouver website at www.festivalvancouver.ca and mark next year’s dates on your calendar. Vancouver, British Columbia Canada is perhaps the most beautiful part of the nation, the whether is great this time of year and this two week musical extravaganza featuring world music, classical and jazz musicians and singers deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as other elite music festivals.