You know it’s going to be a good evening when the relatively-unknown opening act of the Montreux Jazz Club is one of the best new jazz voices you’ve heard all year. Alexander Lövmark was this singer and for fans of jazz vocalists, originality and/or musical discoveries, you have something very special to look forward to.
Lövmark —as blonde and pleasant as you’d expect a Swedish balladeer to be— found his way onto 2018’s programme by dint of winning the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition last year. Much vaunted chanteuse Cécile McLorin Salvant led the jury when he won and so it’s little surprise that he poses a similar approach to the voice as an instrument in its own right. What was showcased on stage was not merely an artist capable of likeable interpretations and contributions to the jazz songbook; he also demonstrated a knack for picking harmony lines to bolster and interact with the instrumental activity around him.
Vocally, Alexander is rather like a tenor’s response to Kurt Elling. Although he doesn’t possess Kurt’s fortified bass range the emerging talent compensates amply with a dancing upper range that softly glazes his phrases. Meandering alongside silky guitar solos (Per-Oscar Nilsson) that mirror the playful light outside on Lake Geneva, Lövmark is blessed with both diction and accuracy in his runs of words and notes. The use of a vocal pedal to generate a lower octave in the closing ‘I Wish I’ reworking points at more creativity ahead for him and the band.
Those who appreciate Chris Thile’s attention to the voice’s position within an arrangement or Mel Tormé’s clarity of lyric will not be sorry to discover Alexander Lövmark. He’s a tribute to Montreux’s excellence in talent scouting and commitment to promoting the jazz stars of tomorrow and it was a pleasure to sit amongst people who were won round in the space of a few short songs.
You can listen to his album Perfect Storm on Spotify now.