«The Kiss Your Darlings Suite» is the most ambitious and best-realized project so far of the Danish, Aarhus-based I Think You’re Awesome sextet led by bass player and vocalist Jens Mikkel Madsen, together with the acclaimed Aarhus Jazz Orchestra, composer-arranger Signe Bisgaard and guest Estonian vocalist Karmen Rõivassepp. This album celebrates the first decade of I Think You’re Awesome, and adds to its laid-back pop-jazz approach, nuanced and deeper dimensions.
The original «The Kiss Your Darlings Suite» was written as a therapeutic exercise for Madsen, written while he was living in Malmö with his wife and coping with depression and feeling of anxiety. It was recorded in two versions, the full suite, with an augmented version of the sextet, and as an acoustic EP (Jaeger Community Music, 2018). I Think You’re Awesome and the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra premiered «The Kiss Your Darlings Suite» for the first time at SPOT Festival in Aarhus in 2019,
Bisgaard, who recently composed «Danse Macabre» for the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra (KØRFIRS, 2020); re-imagined of I Think You’re Awesome songs. Her immaculate and always elegant arrangements fuse the essential qualities of I Think You’Re Awesome – breezy melodies, spiced with a strong sense of vulnerability and melancholy, and driving rhythmic patterns, with the colorful and layered palette of brass and reeds instruments of the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra. Furthermore, she anchored her orchestration within the legacy of American big bands, adding a reflexive aroma to the music while allowing the evocative music and songs flow effortlessly with its lush harmonies. Her arrangements maintain cleverly the delicate and very personal emotional state of mind of the original songs but frame it in a larger, universal sonic canvas.
«The Kiss Your Darlings Suite» distills the most humane message of the original album and expands it exponentially. The fragile atmosphere of «Kiss Your Darlings» is now resolved and reflects compassionately on painful past experiences and, obviously, still thankful for the crucial role of our close social interactions – with our partners, friends, and family, especially in times of self-doubt. Madsen himself sounds confident, and I guess, even happier, as the lead singer in this sweet and his voice finds a perfect partner in Rõivassepp, who adds a dreamy, celestial dimension to his heartfelt delivery. The artwork by Simon Gorm Eskildsen, who did all the covers of I Think You’re Awesome albums, captures faithfully the beautiful atmosphere of this album.
Signe Bisgaard (arr), Karmen Rõivassepp (v), I Think You’re Awesome: Lars Fiil (keys), Alex Jønsson (g), Morten Kærup (g, bjo), Frej Lesner (el.perc), Andreas Skamby (dr), Jens Mikkel Madsen (b, v). Aarhus Jazz Orchestra: Mads Bærentzen (p), Lars Vissing (tp), Jakob Buchanan (tp), Lars Søberg (tp), Jakob Sørensen (tp), Tobias Stavngaard (tb), Anders Larsson (tb), Niels Jakob Nørgaard (tb), Henrik Resen (tb), Kati Brien (as), Johan Toftegaard (as), Michael Bladt (ts), Cesar Joaniquet (ts), Michael Olsen (bs)