Helene Blum – Draber Af Tid (2017)

FrontCover1Helene Blum (born 1979) is a Danish singer and musician who specializes in folk music. Since 2005, when she won the Danish Music Awards Folk prize for her album En sød og liflig klang, she has performed widely in Denmark, North America and Germany, frequently appearing with her husband Harald Haugaard.

Born in 1979 in Gelsted on the Danish island of Funen, Helene Blum was the first singer to graduate from the folk music department at the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense when she received her diploma in 2004. Together with her husband, the fiddler Harald Haugaard, she has given over 700 performances in Denmark, Germany and North America. Composing most of her songs herself, she combines folk, pop and chanson.

Helene Blum02Singing soprano, Blum has also performed in the ballet Medea at the Schleswig-Holsteinische Landestheater in Flensburg and in the opera Konsuma in Odense.

The composer, Rasmus Zwicki, wrote a special part for her. She went on to perform in the Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard Quintet, singing and playing the violin. The other players are Kristine Elise Pedersen (cello), Mattias Perez (guitar), and Sune Rahbek (percussion). In 2017, the Helene Blum and Harald Haugaard Band also included Mikkel Grue (guitar) and Mathæus Bech (bass).

Now averaging a hundred concerts a year, they have performed together in Germany, the United States, Austria, Norway, Canada, Japan and Denmark.

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The Daily Telegraph included her Men med åbne øjne as one of the best folk music albums of 2013.[9] Calling the album “an unexpected treat”, the critic Martin Chilton praised Blum’s “haunting voice”, even if nearly all the lyrics were in Danish. (wikipedia)

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Helene Blum is one of the female musicians who have taken Danish folk to a whole new level. Her inventive, contemporary interpretation of traditional songs reveals their timeless beauty. This musical proficiency coupled with her expressive voice have brought her high acclaim in her native country – and also enabled her to captivate enthusiastic audiences elsewhere in Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan.

In 2004, Helene Blum was the first singer ever to graduate with a degree in folk music from the Carl Nielsen Academy in Odense. The following year, she received a Danish music award in the category Folk Debut of the Year for her first solo album. She finally nailed her success as an artist in 2009 with her personal breakthrough ‘En gang og altid’ (‘Once and always’), which received rave reviews from not just the music press but across the board in the Danish media.

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In retrospect, Helene’s artistic development appears preordained. In actual fact, things could have taken a very different turn for this singer born in 1979, for she started out playing classical piano.

Learning the piano and the violin as a small child, she spent much of her time making music with her three sisters. She also sang and played Danish songs, and grew up with church music. Yet even at the age of nineteen, she still wanted to be a pianist.

But then Helene discovered folk, which sounded to her like a huge promise: “I found an incredible freedom that I had to explore – and felt the urge to delve into roots.” Repeatedly forging something new from traditional music has since become a labour of love for her. Performing solo and in various line-ups, including excursions into musical theatre and the opera, Helene Blum seeks creative challenges. She finds inspiration in contemporary poetry, art and Nordic myths as well as the landscape of her native island of Funen, with which she feels a deep-seated bond.

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This is all reflected on her album, ‘Men med åbne øjne’, which the Daily Telegraph (UK) declared one of the top ten folk albums of 2013. That same year, the Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard Band won the prestigious European folk music prize ‘Eiserner Eversteiner’. Helene Blum’s fifth and current CD Dråber af tid (‘Droplets of time’) released in 2017 was met with high critical acclaim. One track on the album, ‘Friheden Station’, was a number one hit on Danish radio. (taken from her website)

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And here´s her 4th solo-album:

Defining Moments

Listening Post 113. The great Jim Croce could only dream of capturing Time in a Bottle, but on her fifth solo album the Danish folksinger and songwriter Helene Blum succeeds in making the clock stand still. Each song on Dråber af tid (Droplets of Time) revolves around a defining moment—a marriage proposal, a lullaby, a separation, a war’s end—the narrative unit around which life stories are built. The album offers stunning music, evocative imagery and, above all, Blum’s spellbinding voice—bright and poignant, magically fusing opera house resonance with small café intimacy. In a collection that includes traditional songs, works by Danish poets and Blum’s own compositions, the pinnacle is Friheden Station (Freedom Station), capturing love’s first moment: “I dreamed you floated over to me and whispered in my ear about our future,” she sings, “Time stopped when you took my hand”. Always surrounding Blum are her husband/master fiddler Harald Haugaard and their band, with arrangements perfectly sculpted to her voice.


The spark of inspiration animates En lille dråbe blod (A Little Drop of Blood), giving new life to a century-old poem by Sophus Claussen—“Take your pen and write what’s in your heart/A new time is coming…and maybe it just needs you” (video 2). Some of the frozen moments have competing facets: Din fod skal gå (Your Feet Will Take You Far), about the miracle of birth, dances between pensive verse and soaring chorus; Et øjebliks stilhed (A Moment of Silence), inspired by the Danish-Prussian War of 1864, shifts from melancholy memory to stirring peace march; the mystical strings and steady voices in Som stjernerne på himlens blå (Like the Stars in the Sky) echo heaven and earth. If you haven’t heard Helene Blum’s music, it’s about time. (by Atigay)


Helene Blum (vocals, piano)
Mads la Cour (flugelhorn)
Mikel Grue (guitar)
Sune Haansbaek (guitar)
Ulrik Kofoed Hansen (french horn)
Harald Haugaard (violin)
Palle Mikkelborg (trumpet)
Soren Mikkelsen (piano, bass)
Christoffer Moller (piano)
Kristine Elise Pedersen (violoncello)
Sune Rahbek (percussion)
Anders Ringgaard (trombone)
Tapani Varis (bass)
Rasmus (Zeeberg) (mandoline)
background vocals:
Trine Lunau – Karin Mose


01. En Lille Dråbe Blod (Blum/Claussen) 3.01
02. Friheden Station (Blum) 3.31
03. Vores Historie (Blum/Juncker/Larsen) 4.26
04. Barn Rødkindet (Gudmunsen-Holmgren/Standgaard) 4.13
05. Din Fod Skal Gå (Blum) 4.08
06. Lad Våren Komme (Blum/Jacobsen) 3.27
07. Tusind Tanker (Traditional) 4.20
08. Som Stjernerne På Himlens Blå (Traditional) 5.04
09. Et Øjebliks Stilhed (Blum) 4.05
10. Det Haver Så Nyligen Regnet (Blum/Traditional) 4.36
11. Solen Er Så Rød Mor (Nielsen/Bergstedt) 3.16



More from Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard:

The official website:

Irène Schweizer & Louis Moholo – Same (1996)

FrontCover1Pianist Irène Schweizer performed and recorded with leading European improvisers and free jazz musicians since the 1960s, including female improvising groups starting in the late ’70s. One of the initial organizers of the Taktlos and Canaille music festivals, she is also a founding member of the Intakt label. Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, in 1941, Schweizer grew up hearing dance bands in her father’s restaurant. When she was about 12 years old, she started playing on the piano, and a couple of years later picked up the drums as well. At the age of 17, Schweizer’s interest moved away from early jazz styles toward modern jazz, leading to her entry in a Zurich amateur festival in 1960. From 1961 to 1962, the aspiring pianist lived in England, working as an au pair, and taking piano lessons primarily with Eddie Thompson, who taught her stride, bebop, and more. When Schweizer returned to Switzerland, she was playing soul-jazz and hard bop, and started up a trio with drummer Mani Neumeier and Uli Trepte.

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Her playing was soon influenced by the South African players she heard at Zurich’s African Jazz Cafe. Her exposure to Johnny Dyani, Dollar Brand, and others also came around the same time Schweizer heard Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz. In addition to these influences, Schweizer was heavily affected by the recordings of Cecil Taylor. Her trio became known outside of Switzerland, and was invited to play the Frankfurt Jazz Festival in 1966. While there, Schweizer heard such German improvisers as saxophonist Peter Brotzmann and bassist Peter Kowald. The same year, she finally heard Cecil Taylor live, and as sometimes happens when musicians witness someone they revere, she considered giving up the piano as a result. Lucky for music fans, Schweizer instead turned to developing her individual style and technique. During the late ’60s, she was active in a trio with Kowald and Pierre Favre which Evan Parker eventually joined. This group disbanded a few years before her collaborations with Rüdiger Carl began in 1973 (Schweizer and Carl continued to work together off and on throughout their careers).

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Schweizer began giving solo performances starting in 1976, at the Willisau Jazz Festival. Schweizer also became involved in the Feminist Improvising Group, joining Maggie Nichols, Lindsay Cooper, and more. The group changed its name in 1983 to one with less political connotations: the European Women’s Improvising Group. Out of this large group arose an intermittent trio of Schwiezer, Nichols, and Joëlle Léandre, called Les Diaboliques, formed in the early ’90s. Schweizer has recorded with amazing musicians from around the world, including pianist Marilyn Crispell, and leading percussionists Han Bennink, Andrew Cyrille, Günter Sommer, and more. (by Joslyn Layne)

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On this album she is accompanied by Louis Moholo

Louis Moholo comes from a musical family and is a self-taught drummer. His band the Cordettes took part in the 1962 Johannesburg Jazz Festival, where Moholo won first prize for drums. After this, Chris McGregor asked him to join the Blue Notes, replacing the original drummer. After leaving South Africa in 1964, the Blue Notes worked in France, Switzerland, and Denmark, finally settling in London. Of the original Blue Notes, Moholo is the one who had the time and the inclination to branch out further, his fantasy and musical sense as an improviser making him a very sought-after partner.

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Besides playing in the Blue Notes and McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, Moholo was the driving force behind Harry Miller’s Isipingo, and soon led his own groups: the unrecorded Unit, his octet Spirits Rejoice with Kenny Wheeler and Evan Parker, and his septet Viva la Black. In the ’90s, he brought a band to South Africa, and the moving experience was Louis Moholo03recorded and released as Freedom Tour (Ogun, 1993). Moholo has played with Mike Osborne (Shapes, Future Music 1999), Harry Miller, Irene Schweizer (who first met the South African in Zurich in 1964), and Peter Brötzmann (The Nearer the Bone, the Sweeter the Meat, FMP). He’s also worked in a guitar-percussion trio with Derek Bailey and Thebe Lipere that works better than expected; and his duo with Cecil Taylor is pure pleasure, with Moholo’s soft and melodic phrasing complementing the percussive whirls of the piano. His late-’90s efforts are often based on an extraordinary interplay with Evan Parker (Bush Fire, Ogun 1997; Foxes’ Fox, Emanem 1999). Moholo is often featured in the Dedication Orchestra, created to play the music of the South African exiles, and is a member of the London Improvisors Orchestra. (by Francesco Martinelli)

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The recorded pairing in 1987 of pianist Irene Schweizer and African drummer Louis Moholo at the Zurich International Jazz Festival is one of the high points in both artists’ careers. Though the set is just a shade under 40 minutes, the communication and sheer magic that exists between these two percussionists (Schweizer often plays the piano the way it was designed) is almost unparalleled in the music on disc or vinyl. Consisting of three collective improvisations — including “Exile,” a long, three-part suite that closes the set, and a heartbreakingly beautiful rendition of the late Dudu Pakwana’s “Angel” — the music here bears more of Moholo’s melodic African origins than Schweizer’s European free improv magic, though it is undoubtedly present. From the opening ninths in “Free Mandela!” Schweizer seems bent on exploring harmonic territory that is, for her at least, not conventional in that it resembles conventional Western harmonic interplay.

Irène Schweizer & Louis Moholo

There is a twist, however: the figures introduced by her own influences — Abdullah Ibrahim, bassist Johnny Dyani, to whom the opening movement of “Exile” is dedicated, and Pakwana — are everywhere present in the architecture of her solos and “singing” lines, as well as her chordal and tonal inquiry. Timbral notions are all left in the wind here, as the idea of song is what seems to transfix both Moholo with his shifting rolls, cymbal trills, and waterfall left handed tom-tomming, ever falling like water for the benefit of Schweizer’s cascading skeins of large chords immediately followed by brief runs of 16ths and even 32nd notes on their tail. In fact, as chords and right hand runs move against each other in a kind of organic counterpoint, it’s Moholo who bridges the harmonics and equals out the dynamic range. The emotions here run so high, one can feel the exhaustion level begin to equal the exuberance at the particularly knotty and strident tempo in the last part of “Exile,” “We Will Win the War.” Indeed, if they had only known how decisively and powerfully they did, they may have recorded another series of duets. Heavenly. (by Thom Jurek)


Louis Moholo (drums)
Irène Schweizer (piano)

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01. Free Mandela! (Schweizer/Moholo) 5.43
02. Mra (Pukwana/Schweizer/Moholo) 7.17
03. Angel (Pukwana) 4.51
04. Exile (Schweizer/Moholo) 19.30
04.1. Song For Johnny Dyani
04.2. Africa(na) Memories
04.3. We Will Win The War



The official website: