Album Review of
Blue Journal

Written by Joe Ross
June 28, 2022 - 4:52pm EDT
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Jazz vocalist and songwriter Ester Wiesnerová’s debut album, Blue Journal, is a milestone in the blooming career of a young lady who, as a child in Slovakia, first discovered American folk, jazz and gospel music in her mother’s record collection. At age 16, winning “The Voice of Czechoslovakia” television singing contest gave Wiesnerová the confidence needed to then pursue a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at the Berklee School of Music, and a master’s degree in jazz composition at the New England Conservatory.       

Designed as both a musical and visual statement, the disc with Blue Journal comes in a half-inch thick, felt-covered blue booklet containing pictures, lyrics, and blank pages for the listener to record their own thoughts and reflections while listening to the music. In a sense, Wiesnerová invites you to be a co-creator and collaborator with her. Several listens with an astute ear will allow you to focus on the depth, sensitivity, nuance and passion in her music and lyrics. Recorded in Austria with friends she’d met at the Berklee School of Music, Ester enlisted Sam Knight (saxophones, clarinet), Charles Overton (harp), Michal Šelep (bass) and Kan Yanabe (percussion). Co-producer Maria Rehakova plays wooden flute on one track, “Nightingales and Maple Trees,” a cogitation about nature.  

One song, “Citlivi (Sensitive)” sung in Slovak is based on a poem by Miroslav Válek, and it allows one to contemplate the meaning of many historical Slovakian proverbs. Wiesnerová sings in English with an alluring European accent that is thoughtful, delicate and intimate as she ruminates about her own self-discovery (“Sinking Deep”),   shallowness of relationships in the age of social media (“Thirsty”) and nostalgia for America (“Who Are You Now”). “Burrito” was an exercise for her bandmates to improvise the music based on the lyrics. “I’m Not Spinning if it Rains” allows the singer to showcase some of her scat-singing, and “Epilogue” is a wordless piece with multiple layers of breezy vocalizations.  

Blue Journal is a very pleasant record of contemporary jazz revelations. Music can change lives and our views of the world. One just needs to slow down a bit to absorb and understand Wiesnerová’s sensitive, affable and interactive music. Her goal is to leave you in a frame of mind that is calm, hopeful, confident, optimistic and ready to notate, in the diary, your own feelings, emotions and impressions that perhaps weren’t there before. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)