Sophie Duner String Quartet
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Sophie Duner String Quartet


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"At eye level with Kurt Weill & Kate Bush"

In the City of Dreams….

This is it! An extremely rare fortune for listeners who have searched through the much useless material heard today, whose ears suddenly stand up when they finally find what their ears and minds have longed for: a particularly fortunate moment that makes us completely content. At the present time, such a stroke of luck is spinning in my CD player, and I am mesmerized from one song to the next: "The City of My Dreams" by Sophie Dunér, her string quartet and its guests.

This exceptional Swedish artist is not only a vocal virtuoso in the delivery of the 17 pieces she composed, set the text, and arranged on this exhilarating album—she is also an outstanding talent, whose emphatic and thoughtful impression in the future of contemporary music, jazz, and song comes around very rarely. Yet she has found a relationship that is difficult to render in this genre. In terms of “song,” I have already decided for myself. Sophie Dunér has attained the most unattainable, namely, to be at eye level with Kurt Weill, Lennon/McCartney, Gordon Sumner, Ricky Lee Jones and Kate Bush (only a small suggestion of what she has introduced in her renderings).

Naturally, such comparisons are inadequate. Sophie Dunér has her own all-conclusive model, where elements from jazz and contemporary music are blended ingeniously, and at times embedded with fragments of pop music. Her texts – to be read inside the digital packaging – are just as intelligent as the entire conception. Her powerful string quartet has an essential wholeness, which contributes to its enchanting form. Sophie Dunér takes the listener by the hand and leads them into her city of dreams, which can also be mine, yours or anyones. Crisp, powerful or flirtatious, whispering or roaring, with her impressive voice, she draws the delineations her tales of love and illusion, of winners and losers – straight from the head and the gut. It is worth listening to. The kiss of the muse for this fantastic album! - Frank Becker, Musenblätter

"Unique and Fresh....."

The City Of My Dreams

Ever so often something unique and fresh comes showing it’s bright new face and that new something is Sophie Dunér. Her album is “The City Of My Dreams;” it was produced in Madrid Spain by Javisound Studio.
This Swedish born vocalist’s CD brings a lot to the table. First thing on the table is Sophie, with her wide octave range and sultry voice that can be loved by anyone who loves jazz or blues. The music composition is fantastic; it’s been a long time since I heard a vocalist use a string quartet laid out with vocals. The CD is something anyone can enjoy, from the young to the elderly; it doesn’t limit itself to one age group which will allow her great success with the album.
When I listen to The City of My Dreams, it reminds me of an era with strong vocal artists, now legends, and powerful bands in the back. That’s right, it reminds me of 30s and 40s big band with the legendary sounds of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Johnnie Mathis, but with a modern tone. It’s a great combination to say the least. The vocals are clean and fun which is refreshing to hear; something other than the violence and hate that looms over today’s music.
I love the album; it’s different and enjoyable. Sophie breaks out of the same old, same old and dares to be great in her album which I feel she pulled off successfully. It puts her apart from the crowd with the chance to shine. I give the CD 5 out of 6 stars.
To Purchase:
- Jason Dowd, The Expressionist

"Between Kronos and Krause"

Between Kronos and Krause.

Sophie Dunér is very good and agressive enough to sing jazz, alternatvie ( progressive ? ) music.

But she has not yet reached a level of, what shall we say, a la Dagmar Krause ( Henry Cow, Art Bears, News from Babel ), but she´s got talent to get better and better! The music that she and the accompanying string quartet plays is not 100% contemporary, in spite of this, her CD is a delicious entertainingly moment of good music.

The City of My Dreams is a sort of mosaic of melodies that, in a professional and expressive way, almost sounds folk- musical.

Sophie Dunér comes from the surroundings of Gothenburg but she has travelled and studied in the USA and Spain. The string quartet she hires is not the Kronos Quartet ( it does not help to electrify the strings! ) but their sound is convincing especially when they play Kurt Weill inspired music.

As stated, the music is beautiful with its happy or painful harmonies. I can´t say that the record teaches me anything that on a musical level I did not already know, but whats different and new in my ears is the relationship between voice and instrument, an interaction that gives good results.

Sophie Dunér is a singer and a composer within jazz, worldmusic and modern classical music. She sings with a naturalness and simplicity that surprises.

Her vocal equilibrities and her capability to switch between different styles makes her one of the most interesting singers in our country.

She can relate in words and tones a musical shape that many times becomes lyrical.

The voice rattles , falls to later catch itself in the higher register. It throws itself into black holes in between stones and rocks and spreads itself in thin ribbons of waves.

”The music in its wide signification cannot be an instrument to present the eternally subjective like a seducing objectivity ” ( Göran Sonnevi ).

It is fascinating to follow the birth, developement and transformation of the different songs to one or more new songs to later see the acoustic material being used in a completely subjective and original way.

An excellent singer for an excellent record that I recommend. - Guido Zeccola, Tidningen Kulturen

"Brecht & Hendrix & Strings In A Jazz Club"

Brecht And Hendrix With Strings In A Jazz Club

Vocalist and composer Sophie Dunér – pronounced “do near” – was lovely enough to send a couple of recent releases which I listened to with dutiful interest, given the proverbial unawareness that had prevented my summit with her music to date. This Swedish girl - also a fine painter - might not be flying at superstardom altitudes, yet thick substance and a distinct personality, which distance her from the gazillions of clones infecting this genre, are present in several of these pieces. Going through Sophie’s website, one is linked to a photo in company of none other than Karlheinz Stockhausen - not exactly what one would associate torch-singing to.

Genre, you ask. The City Of My Dreams – a self produced CD – is credited to “The Sophie Dunér String Quartet” and is indeed precisely that: a collection of tunes arranged for voice and strings, running a whole gamut of often unexpected eventualities while showing the influence of theatrical recitals for its large part. Dunér is not afraid of attempting difficult ranges, and in a track such as “Happy People” or “Why” she strives for us to receive the message right (the lyrics are frequently ironic and overall funny) more than caring about technical over-perfectionism. This is appreciable, especially in virtue of the peculiar arrangements and temperaments of the strings, accompanying the renditions with intelligibly discordant counterpoints and Purple Haze-ish cadenzas (“Hey Doctor”), Balanescu meets “Moon Of Alabama” if you get my point. Don’t know why, but “Jack The Ripper” brought to mind reminiscences of Marc Hollander’s Aksak Maboul in its odd-metre walking; instead, “It’s Been Too Long” mixes spicy inharmoniousness and a very lyrical melody to destabilize us in utter absence of fake cordiality. “Silent Revolution” could turn into a million-copy hit if sold to some horribly “soulful” pop singer, but this version – vivid lines of metamorphic counterpoint caressing Sophie’s voce with restrained severity – is wonderful as it is. It only remains to mention the names of the players: Carles Fibla, Emilio Robles, Diego Galaz, Guillermo Martinez, Marina Sorin, Elena Bordevias, Paco Ortega, Silvia Villamor, Hector Rojo, all deserving applause together with arranger (in five tracks) Tony Heimer and sound engineer Javier Lasaosa Fernandez. There’s much to savour in this excellent work, worthy of the utmost attention despite a few fragilities here and there.

- Massimo Ricci, Temporary Fault

"Enigmatic, prolific, fearless & quirky"

RATING: 90/100

Once in a while, out of the great sea of noise known as independent music, one encounters a rare and exotic species. Such a discovery is the enigmatic Swedish singer, composer, poet and painter Sophie Dunér. Prolific, fearless and quirky, Dunér is difficult to pigeonhole. Emerging from Sweden's nurturing cultural environment in the 1990s, she studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music, played Birdland and Scullers (with the Sophie Dunér Orchestra), and most recently released The City of My Dreams, an album of modern classical vocal compositions backed by her string quartet. On top of all that, she is a respected visual artist. The Swedish Arts Council recently awarded her a $6,000 grant to fund her myriad creative endeavors.

Here she proves she can hold her own in the jazz world as well, backed by a New York-based minimalist trio featuring the archtop guitar and upright bass, with various percussion instruments replacing the more traditional drum kit. It is the perfect vehicle for Dunér's quasi-cryptic lyrics and edgy vocal style. "Two Time Losers" teeters between cabaret and bluesy acoustic jazz, rewarding the ear with a raw, fresh intensity that well serves the irony of the lyrics. The natural recording process and aesthetics of the CIMP mix take a bit of getting used to, but it's worth the effort. Guitarist Rory Stuart delivers a mischievous, confident solo over the retro-cool upright and bongos, saying plenty without spewing needless bop clichés, while Dunér's deceptively sweet voice betrays a dark undercurrent. This is East Village coffeehouse poetry-jazz, to be served with bitter espresso, trails of cigarette smoke and black fishnet stockings. Sophie, you are just too cool. - Bill Barnes,

"This remarkable talent wears many hats"

RATING: 92/100

In an industry looking for the next superstar cash cow, most singers have to become howling divas, pulsating hotties or angst-riddled yodelers in order to gain wide recognition. How many gifted musicians and singers get lost in the shuffle due to lack of funding or connections or are simply dismissed out of hand because they don't fit comfortably into an established genre? We will never know. Emerging artists in Europe may have an easier time of it, and seem to have a more receptive audience, along with a nurturing creative environment encouraging exploration and experimentation. Case in point: Swedish singer, composer and overall musical auteur Sophie Dunér. This remarkable talent wears many hats, including painter, poet and arranger. Known primarily for her bold modern classical-oriented vocal numbers backed by string quartet or orchestra, she is a prime example of this new wave of "culturanauts," hurtling over commercial barriers and breaking down conceptual doors.

Here Dunér demonstrates her range and flexibility by taking the reins of an Ellington favorite and driving it down the road less traveled. Backed by a surprisingly powerful New York-based acoustic trio, her sultry, controlled delivery and superb phrasing never sound contrived or forced. Guitarist Rory Stuart holds things together with judicious chord voicing and lean, well-constructed solo lines above Matt Penman's driving pulse and the explosive percussion work of Kahlil Kwame Bell.

Sophie Dunér may not be Ella, but her "Caravan" delivers the goods across the frontiers of what is increasingly becoming a wilderness of uncharted musical territory. - Bill Barnes,

"A multifaceted, fascinating, original singer"

The answear to CIMP and Bob Rush to Blue Note and Norah Jones is called Sophie Dunér! After lots of free and improives music comes to CIMP a special personality with her own musical vision beyound the typical genre, a Swedish singer who until now never have recorded.

It may be a joke or not, however it remains that her first aproach in 1996, she didn´t convince the american producer. Sophie Dunér didn´t lose courage and with other songs she presented herself to the same recordlabel that after some years woke some interest to her own work.

With an unusual formation – electric guitar, acoustic bass, a lot of percussion from Kahlil Kwame Bell, and thats somebody who has worked with, above notes, Norah Jones – makes that Bob Rusch define ” good music is good music” and escapes at all definition a music crossover that surely goes well with a quartet put together for the ocasion. The guitar, Rory Stuart, is very good and to interpretate jazz and arrange it with taste for the songs written by Sophie Dunér. In some of the songs, the structure is typically pop like The Rain in Spain and the Fight. But that last very well with the few selected standards.

She is a very original singer and a composer of weight that writes lyrics that are everything but trivial and that has the advantage to know how to put it together in the best of ways. You get surprised about the simplicity of how all this is put together in a mix of styles. This is a record you listen to several times and that every time leaves a good impression.

All About Jazz Italia, Vincenzo Roggero:

"A multifaceted, fascinating singer and a witty, self confident composer and sophisticated arranger"

English version: - Vittorio Lo Conte & Vincenzo Roggero, All about Jazz - Italia

"Behaves to the credos of Modern Art."

Five minutes into this surprising record I found myself remembering the “Slim’s Spins” column from back in September 2006. “I think Jazz vocals present a special case of falling through the cracks,” she wrote. Her general point was that contemporary audiences attracted to vocal music tend to gravitate to one of a variety of pop genres, while contemporary hardcore Jazz audiences tend to dismiss virtually all vocal music out of hand. This account no doubt generalizes, but in my personal experience of Jazz fans it rings true. For a dedicated vocal artistlike Sophie Duner, who recorded The Rain in Spain with a quartet both innovative and tight, the situation potentially leaves her no way to win. To compound these difficulties she can’t escape, Duner is a thinker—a singer doubtless deliberate in her resolve not to do the things that audiences expect Jazz vocalists to do. But for audiences who really believe that Jazz is beyond category, this record offers not only numerous virtues but also veritable pleasures. For starters, Duner will sing about love, but not in ways you’re likely to have heard before. Pop vocalists tend to celebrate new love, singing of confused hearts and spinning heads; Jazz vocalists are expected to be more urbane, having seen it all before—“My Old Flame” etc. Duner offers songs that are neither the one nor the other. In the outstanding “Jack the Ripper” she continues to love a man whom she knows to be unworthy, but not so much because she’s a helpless victim as because she finds a peculiar aesthetic thrill in it all. In “Marionettes” (a figure that shows up in two of her songs) she seems to tout the virtues of men whom she can control, except that “they hang you up, they hang you down.” How parse the ambiguity of this transition: “Marionettes are good to have in bed / Marionettes are good as long as they are in your head.” Does their being in your head suggest that they are manipulative, or that the lover has them in mind. Presumably both. In “The Fight” she calls on her lover to “be my guide,” but later affirms that “I just wanna be in charge.” The song ends as she calls to her lover to “give me all the reasons to be me.” These are all songs about love, but love is in none of them separate from or superior to the struggle to form her own identity. None of this is writing designed to win instant recognition from mass audiences. This is not writing calculated for radio play. Nevertheless, it isn’t their somewhat idiosyncratic lyrics that most make Duner’s songs memorable, but their demonstrable yet original form.More than merely “compositions” such as are familiar to listeners of improvised music, these deserve to be called “songs”—even if they don’t observe the usual patterns of the 32-bar pop song (verses and choruses whose repetition is interrupted by a “release” or “bridge”). Consider, by way of example, the second track, which opens smartly with Bell’s hand drums (Nigerian udu drums, to be precise). The melody of the first two lines of the verse reminds me of Will Hudson & Eddie DeLange’s “Moonglow,” but Duner’s lyrics seem deliberately to steer clear of thoughts and sentiments so rounded from use. That is perhaps to be expected from a song called “The Multiple Useful.” The third and fourth lines then leap from the slow legato of the first into a double-time assertion, and the fifth and sixth lines mark a distinct third cadence that follows from the fourth line. By the sixth and final line of the verse Duner has even added a growl into her delivery. This six-line pattern repeats three further times, except that in the last iteration the pattern of the middle lines, 3-4, repeats again, so that the expected closure doesn’t come. This teasing of expectations is entirely in keeping with the sense of Duner’s lyric, asking if “is there another qualified male / who will be able to serve . . . my different matters.”Different as she is, Duner is not to be confused with one of our many singer-songwriters who is ready to explode from all the purportedly profound and original things they wish to share with the world. Her artistry is as much to be found in her fluid phrasing and her expressive delivery as it is her writing. Moreover—in what I regard as another winning aspect of this album—her originals are balanced with “standards.” I put “standards” in scare quotes because her choices draw not only from the Broadway composers of yore but also significant Jazz writers: two tunes from Ellington, one from Strayhorn, one from Horace Silver, and one from Harry Warren. Her take on “Caravan” is a highpoint, with Penman, and Bell percolating loosely and

Stuart contributing chords and riffs rather more dissonant than anything Duke likely imagined. The ensemble play here is loose and fleet. When Duner comes back in, singing “This is so exciting,” she seems to be referring to music she and her quartet are making as much as she is interpreting the words to Tizol and Ellington’s tune. Duner’s voice is fine, but finally her sensibility and smarts are what make her songs—and they contribute crucially to making this record. In her notes Duner observes how, “taking into account the CIMP recording technique, I turned my artistic ideas for the songs around.” She celebrates the “dirty” way her songs turned out in this recording, but I don’t hear anything “dirty” (and maybe that’s why she used scare quotes): the music sounds intimate and real. More than that, Duner, Stuart, Penman, and Bell really feel like they are in the moment together. Too often the instrumental breaks on vocal records are perfunctory and there just for form; I ordinarily wait out such breaks as opposed to enjoying them. But Stuart, Penman, and Bell take Duner’s songs to new places. Their breaks are exciting and their comping is sensitive but never passive—which says a great deal about the degree to which Duner is herself a proper musician. “At Last” is taken as a duo with bassist Penman, and on “Lush Life” Bells sits out. I could imagine the decision to sit out coming as readily from Stuart or Bell as from Duner (or producer Bob Rusch). On the aforementioned “Jack the Ripper,” Duner breaks off after an emphatic “nevertheless” and Stuart is there instantly, with a Wes Montgomeryish tone, as though fired up by the previous line, “she likes the way he moves.” Actually, it would be hard to praise over much Stuart’s fluid and gentle lines, which contribute gracefully to all of thesesongs save “At Last.” One could say that, in her tendency to thwart expectations, Duner behaves according to the familiar credos of Modern Art. But this is not a record about exploding conventions—this is a record about making compelling music, and writing songs that are effective in their own way. The album’s first track, “The Rain in Spain,” begins with a two-note guitar figure that suggests the ticking of a clock. Marking time instead of baiting her hook, she opens pensively, “Once upon a time I was bigger than life.” The song develops in an almost elliptically personal manner, but, admittedly out of context, this opening line suggests something of the fate of the modern Jazz singer. And yet, given the thoughtfulness of this thirty-something artist, it’s hard to imagine she would want to be anything other than what she is: a lover who lives her art and an artist who loves her life. The Rain in Spain is a gem of a record that all too likely will be missed by those who could most enjoy it: serious listeners of Jazz, and aficionados of song delivered by an artist who understands what she is singing.

- Michael Coyle, Cadence Magazine

"A Jazzy Ani di Franco"

C.I.M.P means Creative Improvised Music Project, behind this here is a record company with a special recording techinique with the best possible microphones directly without big effects and mastering. That means that it sounds the way it sounds, unpolished. It sounds fantastic but slightly quiet, especially for the bass.

As unusual the label and its recording technique is, as unusual is the Swedish singer Sophie Dunér, she is much more than just a ( jazz ) singer. With her incredible width, the possibilities of her voice and loads of imagination, she creates her own song universe between jazz, chanson, folk and fast poetry slam songs and could create an addiction. And with her love for Duke Ellington, that surely would sharpen his ears if he had heard her version of ”Caravan”, ”Lush Life” etc Her own pieces ”Jack the Ripper”, ”The Multiple Useful” or ”Two time losers” remind of this style as well.

Not so twisted acts the guitarrist Rory Stuart, the fine percussionist Kahlil Kwame Bell and the bassist Matt Penman. And if you want to put Sophie Dunér in a chategory, in that case Ani di Franco with a hat, only a bit different, more jazzy. - Peter Bickl, Nordische Musik

"Patty Waters mixed with Nina Simone"

Few recording spaces are as acoustically unforgiving as CIMP’s Spirit Room. It’s a sink or swim environment where instruments receive nothing in the way of life preservers or rescue aid. Vocalists have it especially hard, out of reach of typical studio tricks and remedies like compression and pitch correction. For these reasons, it’s a special breed of singer that braves the rigors of the surroundings. Sophie Dunér is the latest chanteuse to pick up the silk gauntlet and like her predecessors, among them formidable songstresses Devorah Day and Rosella Washington, she comes up with a something personal and persuasive to say.

Stylistically, Dunér is a bit difficult to parcel. I hear some of Joan Armatrading in her warm, folksy way of phrasing a lyric and lacing it with falsetto trills. There’s a little Anita O’Day in there too, with a sassy insouciance sharpening some of her turns of verse. Guitarist Rory Stuart, who last fielded a CIMP session in the company of another vocalist, T.J. Graham, fronts Dunér’s backing band. His versatile fretwork veers from crackling bop-tinted single notes to lush enveloping chords, and braids piquantly with the plump double bass playing of Matt Penman. Kahil Kwame Bell provides the unobtrusive rhythmic glue on a pantry’s worth of percussion instruments and completes the welcoming, dark-roasted coffee house vibe of the date.

The songs are a canny mix of covers and originals. Dunér’s songsmithing is suitably idiosyncratic with imagery that leaves much to the imagination. On the standards, she’s just as devoted to shaping a mood. “Jack the Ripper” finds her dealing in octave leaps that evoke Yma Sumac. Other cuts like “Caravan” and “Lush Life” accentuate the commodious activities of the band, particularly the simpatico interplay between guitar and bass. On the former, Bell’s percolating bongos provide the perfect propulsive touch in conjunction with Dunér’s mellifluous vocalese and some stinging octave runs from Stuart. The guitarist unplugs on a laidback rendering of “Mack the Knife,” strumming acoustic and interjecting comedic retorts as Dunér rolls out the familiar lyrics. The follow-up, “Lonely Woman” (copped from the Horace Silver songbook not Coleman), reminds me of the mellower side of Patty Waters mixed with Nina Simone. The band pulls back into minimalist mode with shakers, a sparse bass throb and Stuart’s gilded chords combining in apposite accompaniment. This date hardly subscribes to the CIMP stereotype of tradition-anchored free jazz and is all the stronger and more charismatic for it.

- Derek Taylor, Dusted Magazine


"The City of My Dreams" ( Sophie Dunér String Quartet, Sophie Productions, Madrid, Spain & Gothenburg, Sweden 2008 )

"The Rain in Spain" ( Sophie Dunér Quartet, C.I.M.P records, N.Y, USA 2006 )



The Sophie Dunér String Quartet is a band led by Sophie Dunér ( vocals ). Stylistically, it is a blend of jazz, contemporary & world music. Sophie has written,arranged, sung & produced her latest CD "The City of My Dreams".

Producer Michael Haas ( who has produced artists such as Luciano Pavarotti & Berlin Philharmonic ) said about Sophie´s CD "Initial impressions indicate a strong, very engaging and creative musician with excellent arrangement. Congratulations! You are clearly an artist of enormous talent and intelligence. I am admiring your artistry " and Frank Becker ( Musenblätter Magazine ) wrote " Dunér is at eye level with Kurt Weill, Lennon/McCartney, Gordon Sumner, Ricky Lee Jones and Kate Bush." Other influences are Stravinsky, Björk & Zappa.

A mix of dissonant AND catchy melodies & harmonies with edgy, provocing lyrics.

"A comercial non comercial band!"