Elina Duni Quartet

October 24th, 2012


Tuesday night was a treat to hear Elina Duni and her quartet at Cornish College’s PONCHO CONCERT HALL as the 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival proceeds. Albanian vocalist Elina Duni appeared with fellow ECM recording artists pianist Colin Vallon, bassist Patrice Moret and drummer Norbert Pfammatter on her first U.S. tour this fall.

Click on the schedule here 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival  continues.

Her new album Matanë Malit (Beyond the Mountain) is an homage to Albania and a look at Balkan folk music through a jazz lens. Duni explores the region’s troubled history through songs of lovers, heroes, workers, shepherds, exiles and songs of resistance.


As a child growing up in Albania, Duni had little exposure to folk music. Folklore had socialist connotations and Duni’s family, like many others, distanced themselves from it to avoid conflict. “I fell in love with the old songs and discovered that not only could I sing them and feel them but that this was really my voice, emerging in a very natural way. It was as if it had been waiting to be activated,” Duni explains.

She left Albania at 10 years old, when the Communist regime fell, and moved to Switzerland with her mother to seek refuge. “This album is the echo of my childhood, my exile and my reconciliation with the two worlds that have shaped me; the Albania of my roots and the Switzerland of my life today,” Duni says.

Duni studied singing and composition at the Hochschule der Künste Bern between 2004 and 2008, where she met Colin Vallon. Together, they discovered the rich history of Balkan folk songs and connected with the music immediately. Shortly thereafter, they formed the Elina Duni Quartet with Vallon on piano, Moret on bass and Pfammatter on drums.

They released their first album Baresha in 2008 on Meta Records, followed by Lume Lume in 2010. Both albums received praise from the Swiss, German, Austrian and French press and spurred a string of European tours and festivals.

Duni gives a captivating performance with a voice that is both tender and euphoric. She often sings barefoot and embraces the spontaneity of jazz. “To me, all improvised music is a jazz state of mind. We feel no obligation to play a song the same way twice,” she says. Tonight, the Elina Duni Quartet merges with this snap of kinetic energy.

– ST