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Some Kind of Wonderful by Ilona Knopfler

Nowadays, vocal jazz can be a difficult commodity to come by. There are limited opportunities to be exposed to the vocal side of jazz; in fact, they are often few and far between. When there is a level of exposure to vocalists, it is a refreshing change from the mundane. When examining most jazz charts, the lists are dominated by bands and solo musicians who are commercialized by the notion of being characterized as jazz musicians. One has to look long and hard before a vocalist can be identified. They can even be completely overlooked in some instances. But every now and again, a singer can rise above the level of obscurity and exhibit a talent that is quite exceptional. Recently, I had the opportunity to experience an individual who may well be a breath of fresh air in the chaotic world of vocalese.

Ilona Knopfler is the latest addition to vocal jazz. This lady pushes the boundaries of blues, pop and jazz by combining all three styles in a manner that is enjoyable. Initially, the Ilona Knopfler experience was filled with curiosity and anticipation. Her name was not readily recognizable and there was only one name on her CD I had experience with, none other than percussionist Lenny Castro. After listening to her album two or three times, I realized Ilona had likeable potential. In retrospect, Ilona's style of singing has been compared to that of Bonnie Raitt, Diane Schuur and Diana Krall; however, that is not necessarily the case. Knopfler's voice is a unique opportunity to be exposed to something special. Her voice is unique and her style of singing is hers alone. In reality, she should not be compared to anyone except herself. Trying to compare her talent to anyone else would be grossly unfair, especially with the type of songs she has chosen for her debut release.

'Some Kind of Wonderful' exposes Ilona Knopfler to music connoisseurs for the very first time. She jumps into the frey with an extremely gutsy approach and takes on the challenge of both pop and jazz standards. There are 13 recognizable tracks that have become timeless classics for many music lovers; in fact, 'Some Kind of Wonderful' has definite crossover appeal. What is just as compelling is the fact that Ilona was just an infant when many of these songs were originally recorded. At 27, Ilona Knopfler spins her own web of interpretation with such tracks as "It's The Time of The Season", "Alfie", "Something", "Breaking Up is Hard To Do" and "One". In hindsight, 'Some Kind of Wonderful' appears to have been an ambitious project from the onset, especially since many of Ilona's tracks have been recorded many times over during the last 40 years. There are four decades of classic titles representing Hal David, Burt Bachrach, George Harrison, Harry Nilsson and other composers/arrangers that represent Ilona Knopfler's interpretive efforts.

With the influences of Diane Schuur and Al Jarreau as models, her debut release for Mack Avenue Records has become a reality. 'Some Kind of Wonderful' is picturesque and fluid in its ability to pull listeners into Ilona's projected message. Her recording ebbs and flows with a high degree of freshness and musical versatility. With the variety of included song titles, this CD will appeal to a much larger audience. In addition, the introduction of a new vocalist adds another dimension to the idioms of jazz and pop alike. Overall, 'Some Kind of Wonderful' is an auspicious way to introduce Ilona Knopfler to the listening public. Her next installment may be even more revealing.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Ilona Knopfler
  • CD Title: Some Kind of Wonderful
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Mack Ave Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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