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The Norwegian trio GURLS – tenor sax player Hanna Paulsberg, bassist Ellen Andrea Wang and lead vocalist Rohey Taalah, made quite a noise with the cheeky, feminine songs of its debut album Run Boy, Run (Jazzland, 2018, the record won the Norwegian Grammy, Spellemannprisen for the best jazz record of the year). Four years later Gurls return with a live album, Oui, a new lead vocalist, Marianna Sangita Angeletaki Røe, a few new songs, and new arrangements of the not-so-old songs, together with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra (TJO).

Paulsberg did the arrangements of the songs for the TJO, keeping «both craziness and stupidity» elements of the songs. GURLS and TJO premiered their performances in spring 2021 at Jazzfest in Trondheim, and Mandaljazz, Moldejazz and Sildajazz festivals. GURLS with the TJO hat on highlights more the instrumental, rhythmic roles of Paulsberg and Wang in shaping the joyful songs as orchestral jazz tunes. Sangita is the vocalist of the avant-pop quintet Broen (tubist of Broen Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck joined this incarnation of TJO and did the cover art). Her delivery is different from the funky-soulful and sometimes subversive delivery of Taalah, more rooted in jazz vocalists’ legacy, more reserved and less exuberant, but fits the new, mature phase of GURLS. Paulsberg and Wang contribute now only backing vocals.

Sangita shows that she can rap fluently like Taalah on the playful «Fruity Looty», enjoying the singing tuba solo of Mobeck, and on «You Want Me». She shines on the touching ballads «Girl» and «Dündeija». The title song, originally from Run Boy, Run, and «Sweet Talker» captures best the mature, less misbehaving version of GURLS, who still like to make tons of fun and enjoy the moment but within clear and bright orchestral rules. Eventually, even quite wild GURLS grow old.

Eyal Hareuveni 

Marianna Sangita (v), Hanna Paulsberg (ts, v), Ellen Andrea Wang (b, v), Eirik Hegdal (bcl, bs), Sissel Vera Pettersen (as, v), Trine Knutsen (fl), Erik Johannessen (tb), Heiða Karine Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck (tuba), Håvard Aufles (synth), Amund Storløkken Åse (vib), Håkon Mjåset Johansen (dr), Ola Øverby (dr)

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