• RELEASE DATE /09.04.2018
  • LABEL /Double Moon Records
  • FORMAT /Digital / CD
  • LINE UP /Charlotte Illinger (voc), Jerry Lu (p), Caris Hermes (b), Niklas Walter (dr)


Every start is a risk. Charlotte Illinger is young and loves the big repertoire. She has gained some experience on stage as a member of the NRW State Youth Jazz Orchestra, the Federal Youth Jazz Orchestra and then during the four years she spent studying at the Prins Claus Conservatory in Groningen, the Netherlands. She has also collected a few prizes at “Jugend jazzt”, the Haestens and the Sparda Jazz Award and is now in the final of her Master's degree as a Jazz Improvising Artist at the Folkwang University in Essen, so she is on the verge of finally taking the reins as an independent artist. And an album with which you present yourself to the jazz world under your own name has a special significance. It is a calling card, perhaps also a door opener for the coming years, in any case a self-confident statement with which a new voice in the German jazz world makes its mark.

The direction is clear. Charlotte Illinger loves tradition. Her world is the music of the divas and originals who laid the cornerstones of modern swing-bopping jazz singing in the fifties and sixties. Pieces such as “But Beautiful”, for example, a charming song oscillating between major and minor cadences, which Jimmy van Heusen originally wrote in 1947 for the Hollywood film “Road To Rio” and which was immortalized by Billie Holiday, among others, a good decade later. Or “Old Devil Moon” by Burton Lane, written in 1946 for the Broadway show “Finian's Rainbow” and discovered for jazz by the cool Miles Davis of the fifties.
Others, on the other hand, were written in French, such as Charles Trenet's “I Wish I Love”, have roots in the adult pop of Burt Bacharach, such as “A House Is Not A Home”, or are the product of the band's own song workshop. All these songs refuse the superficial, the quick effect, and aim at the possibilities of developing independent moods and colors. In doing so, Charlotte Illinger does not leave the boundaries of the harmonic and the closed, but rather opens up the dimensions of her pieces from the inner perspective of a swinging, bopping, ballad-like, sensuous world of sound.

To make this work, she teamed up with like-minded partners right at the start of her studies. At the piano of the quartet, which has existed since 2012, is Jerry Lu, multiple prizewinner of competitions such as “Jugend jazzt” and “Jugend musiziert”, who completed his bachelor's degree at the Cologne University of Music last summer and has earned a reputation as a rising force on his instrument through numerous collaborations and festival appearances in Europe. The bass is played by Caris Hermes, a student of Robert Landfermann and, in addition to her studies at the Folkwang University in Essen, has toured nationally and internationally at festivals and on concert tours.
Niklas Walter, who also ended up at the university in Essen via Dortmund and Cologne and became known through the Soulfood Organ Quartet, among other things, plays the drums. Finally, saxophonist Paul Heller is a guest soloist and sound magician in the team, who is a household name in the Cologne scene of the local jazz world.

The album “But Beautiful” is a mixture of delightfully juvenile vocals, a pleasantly sophisticated repertoire and an elegantly arranged band, making it a debut with which Charlotte Illinger can take the plunge into the shark tank of the competition.


Youth exploring familiar waters: this is how Charlotte Ilinger’s debut could be summed up. But that would hardly do justice to the result that the vocalist presents here. Because “But Beautiful” is a little more than just a tasteful stringing together of songs from the “Great American Songbook” such as “Nica’s Dream”, “Old Devil Moon” or “I Wish You Love”. Instead, the 23-year-old and musicians of her generation (pianist Jerry Lu, bassist Caris Hermes, drummer Niklas Walter) set out to imbue the standards with their own color and atmosphere. This is achieved with the help of many a surprising twist and an experienced mastermind such as saxophonist Paul Heller. To ensure that the career opener is not exclusively based on external material, the singer from Herdecke an der Ruhr, who studied in Enschede and Groningen and is currently completing her Master’s degree in “Jazz Improvising Artist” at the Folkwang University in Essen, has also thrown three of her own songs into the swing pot. Charlotte Illinger wants to prove to everyone that she is not just another one of the many singing jazz stars.

– Reinhard Köchl, JAZZTHING.DE