Band of the Day

2012.07.18

Roos Jonker

A Dutch Jazz singer/multi-instrumentalist makes stunningly easy-going and sweet jazz gold
I don't care how much you've lied. Making the same mistakes all over again is all I do. Just one more time and it will be alright, always make the same mistakes when I'm with you.
lyrics from Hangover

Roos Jonker is a Dutch Singer-songwriter who makes modern music with a classic soulful jazz voice. Jonker attended the Amsterdam Conservatory and studied in the jazz department, which led to the development of her classic jazz style and improvisational techniques. She was the lead singer with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and toured with them through Europe. She has worked with various artists such as Benny Sings and Kindred Spirits Ensemble and has performed at festivals like North Sea Jazz and Lowlands. Jonker not only sings, but plays the piano, guitar, harp, and saxophone in addition to producing her own beats. Her debut album Mmmmm released on Dox Records in 2010. In 2011 her album was named Breakthrough Album of the Year in iTunes’ jazz category. Jonker also appeared in the Make It Right album, that was part of the In A Cabin With project.

Dutch jazz singer/multi-instrumentalist Roos Jonker makes songs that sound effortless. It's as if she was able to take her own advice in “Play Guitar,” to “leave your worries far behind,” and just record the first breezy melodies that popped into her head over a stretch of particularly sunny days. In reality, the songs on her debut album Mmmmm are complex things filled with all sorts of synergistic textures that probably took many months of head pounding to create.

You could accuse the record of being coffee shop background bait –it doesn't follow the time-honored Jazz tendency to grow ever more weird and out there– but that would be unfair. Just as Feist's solo debut Let It Die inhabited classic French pop beautifully, only stretching the boundaries subtly, Jonker treats jazz lounge like her living room, freely incorporating elements of genres like hip hop and R&B, but mostly just reveling in the form.

Title track “Mmmmm” is sweet and sensual, with lazy guitar strums and beautifully sleepy piano. Jonker's vocals are feathery and decadent as they swoop around the classic jazz instrumentation. “Still There” rocks a beat that's more underground hip hop than jazz and layers on gently chiming, crystal clear piano. Jonker bring out one of her most memorable vocal melodies that's closer to Lauryn Hill than Ella Fitzgerald, and fits in seamlessly with the instrumentation. “Man In The Middle” is another highlight with its jaunty rhythm and orchestral flourishes that sound almost like samples: sighing flutes, waterfalls of piano.

The music is so easy-going and skilfully realized it's tough to understand how Jonker can still be relatively unknown outside of her native Netherlands.