Ilona Knopfler – Live The Life

Ilona Knopfler was a name I recognized even though she has not been in the eye of the mass public for very long. What makes the fact that her name was familiar to me even more unusual is that jazz is probably what I follow the least in my preferred genres of music. I’ve asked myself why I committed to reviewing a couple of jazz artists and I still don’t know why I did but I am glad, possibly for the first time, that I raised my hand and willfully exclaimed, “Sure, I can do that.”

Well don’t expect a conventional review by a jazz critic cause, that, I am not. But, music and the art of expression has been my life, emphasis on ‘art.’

Live The Life is Ilona Knopfler’s second release. I’m impressed. No – I’m completely blown away. I couldn’t stop uttering the caveman phrase, “WOW!” Ms Knopfler opens the disc with the Thomas A. Dorsey number I’m Going To Live The Life I sing About In My Song – acappella!! Her voice sounds so pure and she is confident in her execution. I could enjoy an entire CD of her voice with no accompaniment but more of her own voice. She has great control over it without sacrificing any expression. This is the case though out the entire CD.

I was obviously hooked from the beginning, but my vocabulary went from ‘wow’ to speechless as Ilona and her supporting cast of more than 30 musicians took me on a journey with numbers sung in English, French or both and ranging from big band swing to the sound of a trio that you might find in a smoky bar on Bourbon Street. There are many worldly flavors sprinkled on Live The Life from the latin tinged But For Now, in which Ilona does a great scat reminiscent of Lena Horn, to the middle-eastern sounding Throw It Away.

If I were to choose my favorite moment on Live The Life, I would have to say that I especially enjoyed the trade off call and answer play between Ms Knopfler and trumpet player, Sean Jones, during La Jazz Et La Java. Speaking of the supporting cast on Live The Life, they are top notch. I also might add that I particularly enjoyed the melancholy This Is Always, which has a beautifully orchestrated intro reminiscent of one of my favorite composers, Gustav Mahler.

Ilona is noted at describing Live The Life as, “a tribute to my unconditional love of music.” When you hear Ilona Knopfler on Live The Life, you will not be able to deny that she is one with the music she sings. I would recommend this CD to anyone who loves jazz and to anyone who may not listen to jazz but is looking to expand their horizon. On a scale of 1 to 10, Ilona Knopler’s – Live The Life gets lucky 11.