Caro Emerald (Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw) is a Dutch Jazz singer who burst onto the Dutch scene in 2009 with her debut single “Back It Up“, closely followed by her debut album Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor. It is one of those rare blow-you-away-on-the-spot albums which wins instant converts from those who claim not to like the genre!
The album was wildly successful in Holland, quickly eclipsing the record of Michael Jackson’s Thriller for successive weeks at that country’s #1 album spot. From there, Deleted Scenes gradually won over larger audiences across Europe, most notably in the UK and Germany. The album was only released in the USA in late 2012.
Caro Emerald’s music is hard to adequately describe. It is basically straight-ahead 1920’s-style Big Band Jazz, but performed with a level of gusto, commitment, and panache that is quite unique. I think what she has done is to take the idiom of an almost century-old music style, and set about performing it without trying to painstakingly replicate the authenticity of the period. Back in the day, when this style of music was the latest thing, it was conceived to appeal to the brave new world of the young post-war generation, and to intentionally separate itself from the established musical forms of the time. It played to the hippest cats around. The big bands who created and performed this music were the free spirits of their age, and what they were playing was new, different, and so, so modern. How do you recapture that today? Any big band jazz on record today which would be considered authentic, is inevitably also seriously dated. How do we capture what those original audiences must have felt, when to hear it for ourselves invokes, at best, nostalgia?
What Caro Emerald does is to use modern performing and recording techniques, modern playing styles, modern recording and mixing styles. In a nutshell, she has re-imagined the genre as though it had never previously existed, and created it anew using the available musical vocabulary of the 21st Century. Thus the thundering underpinning drum beat, the hints of a house or hip-hop vibe, and a soundstage that places you right there in a hot, steamy, speakeasy nightclub. Incredibly, it is an album that suddenly allows the 20’s to make sense.
Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor is an amazing achievement. You just gotta hear it, dude!