When Geisha let out last night around 9:35, Norwegian jazz singer Solveig Slettahjell and her band the Slow Motion Quintet were still … well, not exactly rocking but certainly lulling listeners at a half-full Cistern across the street. Spoleto’s first installment in its six-strong jazz series this year was a breathy-voiced, pop-inflected chanteuse who put my group – myself and City Paper music editor Ballard Lesemann – in mind of a tipsy, half-asleep Bjork. Her band, an ABBA-lookalike set with long blond hair, comprised a pianist, another member on standup base, and a percussionist who created complex, upbeat rhythms to Slettahjell’s often dreamy, mellow, almost whispered vocals. This was partly because he dabbled with an electronic kit throughout the evening, creating looping sampled rhythms while he concentrated his efforts elsewhere. It may be the first drum machine Spoleto audiences have seen at the Cistern, but I bet it won’t be the last. The effect: an often frenetic percussive bed upon which Slettahjell’s sad, intimate vocal work lolled seductively about, all of it caressed by the urgent breath of a strong breeze in the tree canopy over the Cistern, sounding for all the world like bodies on silk sheets.
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