Fairytales (40th Anniversary Remaster 2022) Radka Toneff & Steve Dobrogosz
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Info for Fairytales (40th Anniversary Remaster 2022)
The 40th Anniversary Edition of Fairytales is the final of many incarnations of singer Radka Toneff and pianist Steve Dobrogosz’s jewel of a duo album. In the course of the 40 years that have passed since its release – on LP in 1982, CD in 1986 – Fairytales has sold well over 100,000 units, making it the top-selling Norwegian jazz record ever, and was also voted Norway’s best album of all time in a poll of Norwegian musicians in 2011.
For four decades the sometimes delicate and sometimes robust melodic intimacy between the singer and the pianist, and the fragile strength with which they imparted their lyrics and music, has cast a spell on listeners from all music scenes. Constantly new generations are enthralled by the 41 auditorily minimalist but eloquently narrative minutes, and this final version, with improved sound quality, brings us closer to the magic of the Toneff/Dobrogosz duo than ever before.
Fairytales had a solemn epilogue when Radka died under tragic circumstances a few weeks after the album was released and had begun to go from strength to strength. In retrospect, though, it is not the memory of the loss of an incomparable singer, but rather the content of what Radka accomplished together with her American duo partner that keeps Fairytales alive. “It’s not just the sound itself, but it’s also about how Radka sings, about the sensitivity in her voice,” Steve Dobrogosz has said. The pianist describes Radka as a superb, forthright and genuine interpreter who was “at her best” with Fairytales, and he rejects any implication that she sounds especially lonely or depressed, or that the album can be construed as part of any autobiographical timetable. The sum of singer Radka Toneff was, naturally, more than the parts she was able to display on Fairytales.
But when practically all subsequent singers in Norway, from Sidsel Endresen up to the young talents of today, get a warmth in their voices and eyes when they talk about Radka as an artistic ideal and a source of inspiration, it is not least because they heard Fairytales at some point, and were sold. The fact that the album has also been the impetus for an interest in Radka that has produced posthumous records, books, radio documentaries and countless articles only confirms the strong position the album still occupies in the Norwegian music scene, a position that this 40th Anniversary Edition will further reinforce
"The moon can be so cold," wrote Jim Webb, "though she looks as warm as gold." This restoration of one of the 1980s' greatest albums has turned digital cold into musical gold." (John Atkinson, stereophile)
Radka Toneff, vocals
Steve Dobrogosz, piano
Recorded at Bergen Digital Studio, Grieghallen, Bergen, February 1982
Produced by Arild Andersen
Radka Toneff (1952-1982)
A Norwegian jazz vocalist of legendary stature, Radka Toneff made her award-winning album debut in 1977 and recorded only three albums during her lifetime, which was cut short by her tragic death in 1982. Born on June 25, 1952, in Oslo, Norway, she is the daughter of a Bulgarian folksinger and studied at the Oslo Musikkonservatorium from 1971 to 1975. After founding the Radka Toneff Quintet, whose membership included Arild Andersen (bass), Jon Balke (piano), and Jon Eberson (guitar), among others, she made her solo album debut in 1977 with Winter Poem, an English-language effort. Highly acclaimed, the album was awarded a Spellemannprisen (i.e., Norwegian Grammy) in 1977 for Vocal Album of the Year and was a Top 20 hit on the Norwegian albums chart. The follow-up album, It Don't Come Easy (1979), also featured the Radka Toneff Quintet while her third album, Fairy Tales (1982), was a collaboration with pianist Steve Dobrogosz. Tragically, Toneff died on October 21, 1982, in what was officially declared a suicide, though some have argued that her death was accidental. Over the years that followed, Toneff's stature rose to that of legend, and posthumous releases such as Some Time Ago: A Collection of Her Finest Moments (2003) and Butterfly (2008) proved remarkably popular, reaching the Top Five and Top Ten, respectively. Another posthumous release, Live in Hamburg (1992), is a latter-day concert recording from 1981 featuring herself alongside Steve Dobrogosz (piano), Arild Andersen (bass), and Alex Riel (drums). (Jason Birchmeier, AMG)
grew up in the American south (Raleigh, NC), trained as a classical pianist but more interested in the popular music of the day. While studyiing jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he met his Swedish wife and in 1978 moved to Stockholm, quickly becoming active in Sweden's jazz scene with his Steve Dobrogosz Trio and as a sideman with popular Scandinavian jazz groups. In the mid 80s he decided to focus on his main interest, songwriting, and began a series of successful vocal collaborations (among others, the “Anthology” collection with singer Berit Andersson), while also venturing into choral composition and notated music for orchestra.
Dobrogosz’s production (now over 1400 pieces) incorporates such a wide variety of genres that describing his style, or marketing it, is difficult, though “tonal lyricism” comes close. His oeuvre now includes everything from a 2-hour oratorio of Shakespeare sonnets, a symphony, a choral Requiem and several Masses, an oboe concerto and other Americana, to gritty rock piano albums, a pop-jazz songbook, romantic background music, Irish jigs, bluegrass fiddle, a book of jazz charts and songs for Spanish guitar.
His 1982 duo album with singer Radka Toneff "Fairy Tales” is widely regarded as a classic and was voted all-time Best Norweigian Album in an artists poll. Dobrogosz’s choral piece “Mass” (1992) has been performed in 45 countries and is now a staple in the international choral repertoire. His 2006-2008 recordings with singer Anna Christoffersson recieved two Swedish Grammy nominations and critical acclaim. The Gothenburg Post compared his music to Gershwin and Porter, writing "Dobrogosz's songs are melodic masterpieces, with a harmonic sophistication seldom found in music today.”
"Dobrogosz does not play complicated, but each tone is meaningful and the keyboard is a seamless extension of what must be spirit in conjunction with matter... Steve Dobrogosz plays in an alloy of genres without clichés in a way that is almost shockingly complete" - Lira Magazine
This album contains no booklet.