Danish multi-instrumentalist Sarah Elgetti has been fronting her quartet for 13 years. Prior to Dawn Comes Quietly she released two quintet albums – Synchronize (2015) and Into The Open (2011). Alongside her flute, tenor sax and bass clarinet, the quartet comprises Nils Rae on keyboards, Anders Krogh Fjeldsted on bass and Henrik Holst Hansen on drums. For this album they are augmented by four of Elgeti’s friends.
Elgeti began learning the tenor sax at the age of 15 and was later classically trained in flute and clarinet. Much of the music on Dawn Comes Quietly follows fugal form and to some extent this reflects her classical background. Of the 11 tracks on the album Elgeti composed nine, and for two of those she wrote the lyrics that are sung by Sidsel Storm. The final two numbers are Carl Nielsen compositions rearranged by Elgeti.
Magical Thinking is calm with floating flute, clarinet and bass clarinet. Whereto? sounds a little like the opener and introduces slow, almost monotone vocals from Sidsel Storm. Changing Whispers brings some relief with a more cheerful jazz feel with Elgeti and Rae improvising on sax and harmonica. The melancholy A Lot Of People – A Lot Of Sad Stories slows the tempo down again while Autumn supplies a second instalment of ruminative vocals.
Crazy Destiny is more cheerful and reintroduces a jazz beat with sax, harmonica and drum soloing. Eriksen’s baritone sax adds welcome texture in Introspection, helping to balance the seemingly pervasive flute. Gather Courage is quite catchy with unusually muscular sax from Elgeti and a bass solo. Snow is moody with emotive sax and soulful piano.
Nielsen’s En Sommeraften (A Summer Evening) has doleful flute to start but picks up with swing violin and a jazz piano interlude. Tit Er Jeg Glad (Often I’m Happy) has similar flute work to earlier tracks and has vocals in Danish. In translation, the song starts with “Often I am happy and yet want to cry …” which I think encapsulates the underlying tenor of the album – that it’s born of introspection and sadness.
Whilst the musicianship is invariably impeccable throughout this recording, at the end of the day it comes down to whether you enjoy the material or not. To some, the content may well be regarded as “beautiful music” but for me, almost a whole album of melancholy reflection is rather too much.
Magical Thinking; Whereto?; Changing Whispers; A Lot Of People – A Lot Of Sad Stories; Autumn; Crazy Destiny; Introspection; Gather Courage; Snow; En Sommeraften; Tit Er Jeg Glad (69.23)
Quartet: Sarah Elgeti (ts, (f, bcl); Nils Raae (kyb, hca); Anders Krogh Fjeldsted (b); Henrik Holst Hansen (d). Friends: Sidsel Storm (v); Soren Birkelund (cl); Alexander Kraglund (vn); Marianne Caecilla Eriksen (bar) Copenhagen, 2019.