Radka Toneff – Live In Hamburg 1992 (2016)

FrontCover1Ellen Radka Toneff (25 June 1952 – 21 October 1982) was a Norwegian jazz singer, daughter of the Bulgarian folk singer, pilot and radio technician Toni Toneff, she was born in Oslo and grew up in Lambertseter and Kolbotn. She is still considered one of Norway’s greatest jazz singers.

Toneff holds a very special position in the Norwegian jazz history. With her moderate, but intense expression and her discerning musicianship, she made a deep impression on many people. Her highly personal and original qualities, where she combined influences from her father’s musical heritage in Bulgaria with a range of influences from, among others, jazz and rock, led her to become a beacon for singers both in Norway and internationally.

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She studied music at Oslo Musikkonservatorium (1971–75), combined with playing in the jazz rock band “Unis”. She also had her own Radka Toneff Quintet (1975–80), with changing lineup. including musicians like Arild Andersen, Jon Balke, Jon Eberson and Jon Christensen, among others. From 1979 she cooperated with Steve Dobrogosz. In 1980 she participated in the Norwegian national final of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Parken by Ole Paus.

Toneff was awarded the Spellemannsprisen 1977 in the category best vocal for the album Winter Poem, and she posthumously received the Norwegian Jazz Association’s Buddypris in 1982. The Radka Toneff Memorial Award is based on a fund created with royalties from the albums Fairytales and Live in Hamburg.

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She lived with bassist Arild Andersen for some years, though she was involved with jazz drummer Audun Kleive at the time of her death. A biography of Toneff was published in 2008.

Toneff had roots in Bulgaria, she grew up on Lambertseter (in Oslo) and Kolbotn (in a neighboring former municipality), and left deep traces in Norwegian jazz. In a poll of Norwegian musicians conducted by the newspaper Morgenbladet in November 2011, her 1982 album Fairytales was voted the best Norwegian album of all time.[6] Toneff was found dead in the woods of Bygdøy outside Oslo on 21 October 1982. She had committed suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills (wikipedia)

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Two chords from the piano, two little chords only, and then finally, finally this voice: Radka Toneff dives deep into “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” and sets the standard for a moving, wonderful, dreamlike recording, of course her best. Recorded in 1981, but only released 10 years after her mysterious death, this live CD presents not only the singer in top form: with Alex Riel (dr) and her two long-term accompanists Steve Dobrogosz on piano and the grandiose Arild Andersen on bass here, she has a congenial trio around her.

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Only with Arild Andersen’s bass she crowns Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman”, immediately followed by the bassist’s fast bossa “A Certain Piece”, in which Alex Riel and Andersen have brilliant solos. Also “Antonio’s Song”: great. Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman” sounds so beautiful that it brings tears to your eyes. “Rest Enough” proves her blues talent, and she does justice to her Bulgarian descent with a folk song – that is completely out of the ordinary, requires completely different vocal qualities! Radka Toneff masters that too, leading into “Havana Candy”, a fast parade number for Dobrogosz and Andersen – another highlight of a CD that rightly received the Norwegian Spellemanspris and a Grammy.
[Re-released in 2016 in the “Jazz Out Of Norway Since 1981” series on the Odin Records label]. (nordische-musik.de)


Arild Andersen (bass)
Steve Dobrogosz (piano)
Alex Riel (drums)
Radka Toneff (vocals)


01. Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (Wolf/Landesman) 8.07
02. Never Letting Go (Bishop) 5.20
03. Lonely Woman (Coleman) 7.32
04. A Certain Peace (Anderson/Giovanni) 6.01
05. Antonio’s Song (Franks) 5.00
06. Set It Free (Loggins) 4.34
07. Just Like A Woman (Dylan) 5.29
08. Rest Enough (Shepp) 5.13
09. Bulgarian Folksong (Traitional) / Fire (Anderson/Giovanni) 9.35
10. Havana Candy (Austin) 3.33
11. We’ll Be Together (Osborne) 5.12



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