A box of love letters, rediscovered by accident, has inspired Germany’s most successful female Jazz singer Lyambiko to write some new songs and to take a fresh look at such jazz standards as Close Your Eyes and Stardust.
“Yes, last night I dreamt of you again. I no longer know what it was, unfortunately, but I awoke filled with joy. Indeed, even during the day, whenever my thoughts can flee my work they are with you. Past things and future things hover around me – blissful thoughts of love.”
No, these aren’t the lyrics of a song. They come from a love letter written in 1934 by the grandfather-in-law of Lyambiko, a German jazz singer living in Switzerland. Her two most recent albums, Lyambiko Sings Gershwin (2012) and Muse (2015), amply demonstrate that this winner of the Echo Prize loves to weave a common theme through the songs on her albums. The inspiration for Love Letters came from a box of love letters rediscovered by accident in the attic of her husband’s parental home. Separated from 1933 to 1944 by distant jobs, and ultimately by the Second World War, it was often only by letter that his grandparents could maintain contact, reassure each other of their love and exchange information on their everyday lives.
“I devoured these letters in the space of a few days”, Lyambiko recalls. “It was like reading a novel.” While reading them she lit on the idea of Love Letters: “I began to compare those bygone days with the present. This brought together the levels of old and new, and it made me want to record some old songs which I imagined she might have sung to herself when she thought of him. Plus, I wanted to write some new songs better suited to myself.”
The result is a mixture of original songs and such classics as Close Your Eyes, Stardust and Someday My Prince Will Come, songs which tell entirely new stories when heard in the context of the letters. With great empathy she weaves the oldies and the new songs into a coherent whole that describes this most old-fashioned yet up-to-date of emotions on two different temporal levels, but without applying a patina of nostalgia.
Together with Martin Auer (trumpet), Marque Lowenthal (piano), Robin Draganic (bass) and Tilman Person (drums), Lyambiko successfully brings off the rare feat of making the mysterious sparks of a vanished world audible to today’s listeners. She delves into each song with full commitment while keeping herself as far as possible in the background.
Love Letters is a timeless riposte to the evanescence of Twitter and Facebook, a feeling transformed into sound, and a highly personal journey through time – with a return ticket.