La Fille de l’Air
Born into a highly artistic family in Tirana, Albania, in 1981, Elina Duni made her first steps on the stage as a singer aged five, singing for National Radio and Television. In 1992, after the fall of the communist regime, she settled in Geneva, Switzerland, with her mother, where she started studying classical piano and thereafter discovered jazz. She went on to study on the jazz programme at Hochschule der Künste in Bern. During this time, she formed the Elina Duni Quartet with Colin Vallon on piano, Patrice Moret on double bass and Norbert Pfammatter on drums. This project represented a return to her musical roots, an intriguing, successful combination of Balkan folk songs and jazz.
After two albums on the German label Meta Records she releases Matanë Malit (Behind the Mountain) and Dallendyshë (The Swallow) on ECM in 2012 and 2015. After these two critically acclaimed albums featuring Albanian songs in a light and subtle manner, Elina presents Muza e Zezë in 2014, her first solo album album as a singer-songwriter.
In 2017, Elina Duni was one of the winners of the Swiss Music Prize and in 2018 her first solo project Partir was released on ECM Records. On her most intimate recording to date, she accompanies herself on piano, guitar and frame drum, interpreting – in nine (!) languages – songs from very diverse sources – from folk songs and chansons to singer-songwriter ballads.
For her latest project, Songs of Love and Exile, Elina is joined by guitarist and BBC New Generation Artist Rob Luft, one of the rising stars of London’s flourishing contemporary jazz scene. Luft’s playing incorporates echoes of West African high-life, Celtic folk and textural minimalism. His joyously original sound finds an ideal counterpart in Elina Duni’s vocals. The duo’s first common album Lost Ships was released by ECM Records in 2020 and nominated for the German Critics’ Award as well as for the German Jazz Award.
A pandemic and numerous acclaimed live performances later, the sequel follows: A Time to Remember, a goldmine of songs spanning several styles, from enchanting folksong through to contemporary European jazz. It will be released in June 2023 on ECM and celebrates the successful collaboration of the duo Duni&Luft, again accompanied magnificently by Matthieu Michel on fluegelhorn and Fred Thomas on piano and drums.
“I come from a family who has already fought against fascism, this is why I abhor any kind of nationalism. Societies who seal themselves off, are fearful societies. We all have to learn again how to fight for things that we have come to see as a given and take for granted.” (Elina Duni)
Elina Duni Solo “Partir”
Duo Elina Duni & Rob Luft
Quartet Elina Duni & Rob Luft Band
2023 A Time to Remember, ECM
2020 Lost Ships, ECM
2018 Partir, ECM
2015 Dallëndyshe, ECM
2014 Muza e Zezë
2012 Matane Malit, ECM
2010 Lume, Lume, Meta Records
2008 Baresha, Meta Records
2020 Freiburger Leiter, Germany
2017 Schweizer Musikpreis, Switzerland
2015 Diaspora Award, Embassy of Kosovo, Scwitzerland
2013 Kult Award für “Matanë Malit”, Tirana, Albania
2012 Jazz Pott Preis, Essen, Germany
2010 Pro Helvetia “Priority Jazz ” for Elina Duni Quartet, Switzerland
2008 HKB Preis, Bern, Switzerland
2008 “Coup de Coeur 2008” Bern, Switzerland
2007 Friedl Wald Preis, Switzerland
“Not an early morning record more a late night one, Lost Ships is accessible yet highly arty.”
Marlbank, USA, Lost Ships 2020
“Lost Ships is an exquisitely beautiful, emotionally complex, words and music masterpiece from two of the most distinctive talents on the European scene. Passionate and grave, serene and desolate, it is a kind of sequel to Duni’s acclaimed 2018 ECM debut, Partir. … A perfect vehicle with which to transition into, hopefully, a better new year.”
All About Jazz, USA, Lost Ships, 2020
“Duni’s soaring, sensuous singing has a clarity and purity … tellingly infused with jazz elements such as light scatting and sparing but effective melodic improvisation.”
London Jazz News, UK, 2019
“This album is all of a piece. Tuned in a pensive tone, although it is about departure. But this departure is not frivolous or euphoric, and Elina sings about it with earthy presence and mastered strength.”
Neue Züricher Zeitung, CH
„Elina Duni’s is a voice that’s both relaxed and slightly pensive – relaxed with a deliberate delicacy for slower material, yet pensive for what lies beneath the surface of such calm, beautiful music.“