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Dweelja Doobap

We Did It! (None)

4.3

April 16, 2001

Tuning / Blend 4.3
Energy / Intensity 5.0
Innovation / Creativity 4.7
Soloists 4.3
Sound / Production 4.0
Repeat Listenability 4.0
Tracks
1 Ain't Nobody (Else But You) (D. Erni) 4.0
2 We Did It (D. Erni) 4.0
3 WYSIWYG (D. Erni) 4.3
4 I'm Wondring If You Know (M. Dettwyler) 4.0
5 We're In Love (P. Austin/Arr. B. Tuor) 4.0
6 Äs Buurebüäbli I (trad/Arr. C. Flueler) 3.0
7 Aquarius (G. MacDermot, G. Ragni, J. Rado/Arr. D. Erni) 4.7
8 Comes Love (L. Brown, S. Stept, C. Tobias/Arr. B. Tuor) 4.0
9 Äs Buurebüäbli II (trad/Arr. C. Flueler) 4.3
10 Another Day (B. Marsalis, B. Gable, F. McComb/Arr. B. Tuor) 4.0
11 A Night in Tunisia (D. Gillespie/Arr. D. Erni) 3.7

Recorded None
Total time: 40:46, 11 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Ain't Nobody (Else But You) (D. Erni) 3
2 We Did It (D. Erni) 4
3 WYSIWYG (D. Erni) 4
4 I'm Wondring If You Know (M. Dettwyler) 4
5 We're In Love (P. Austin/Arr. B. Tuor) 4
6 Äs Buurebüäbli I (trad/Arr. C. Flueler) 3
7 Aquarius (G. MacDermot, G. Ragni, J. Rado/Arr. D. Erni) 4
8 Comes Love (L. Brown, S. Stept, C. Tobias/Arr. B. Tuor) 4
9 Äs Buurebüäbli II (trad/Arr. C. Flueler) 4
10 Another Day (B. Marsalis, B. Gable, F. McComb/Arr. B. Tuor) 4
11 A Night in Tunisia (D. Gillespie/Arr. D. Erni) 4

Dweelja Doobap is aptly named — unless you get the name, don't even think about getting the album. We Did It is a nice collection of original music and jazz standards. It's designed for the scat-singing aficionado — and such creations are a pleasant rarity in the a cappella enclave.

The original I'm Wondering If You Know takes the best traits of the album and presents them in sterling fashion: good writing, a nice lead, lovely scat improvs scattered throughout and a general live-in-a-jazz-club vibe. (The album was actually recorded live in a Zurich theater, but for our purposes it can stand in as a smoky jazz club. After all, everyone smokes in Europe.) Arrangements of Branford Marsalis' Another Day and the familiar A Night In Tunisia are equally pleasant.

Aquarius shows some of the less accessible aspects of the album. A five-star arrangement backs up a dubious song choice, made funnier by the heavy accent on the otherwise heartfelt solo. Tuning almosts poke up from time to time: chords that aren't locked or that travel through lousy intonation on the way to their rightful pitch. It's an unfortunate reality that tuning on this kind of music demands a far higher standard than almost anything else, particularly when it is live. Unfortunately, there are a lot of almosts scattered throughout the set list.

This album often comes across as a three-plus. It's enough better than your run-of-the-mill collegiate or pickup group that it seems unfair to saddle much of it with the dreaded "average". And yet, it seems not quite sharp enough to earn a "good" label, with the accompanying recommendation to buy and enjoy in perpetuity. That final bit of polish and tuning is what curbs my enthusiasm. On the one hand, it's a challenging, interesting album with good voices and a cool foundation, but on the other hand, it doesn't zip enough to root itself in my good graces.

Fans of this kind of music are likely to appreciate this album's accomplishments. I bet it was a good show, I bet it was a good group, and they do a good job meeting the challenges they set for themselves. But I say again: if you don't get the name, you probably won't get the album.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Ain't Nobody (Else But You) (D. Erni) 4
2 We Did It (D. Erni) 4
3 WYSIWYG (D. Erni) 4
4 I'm Wondring If You Know (M. Dettwyler) 4
5 We're In Love (P. Austin/Arr. B. Tuor) 4
6 Äs Buurebüäbli I (trad/Arr. C. Flueler) 2
7 Aquarius (G. MacDermot, G. Ragni, J. Rado/Arr. D. Erni) 5
8 Comes Love (L. Brown, S. Stept, C. Tobias/Arr. B. Tuor) 4
9 Äs Buurebüäbli II (trad/Arr. C. Flueler) 4
10 Another Day (B. Marsalis, B. Gable, F. McComb/Arr. B. Tuor) 4
11 A Night in Tunisia (D. Gillespie/Arr. D. Erni) 3

They call themselves "Dweelja Doobap: The Amazing a Cappella Quintet" and though you'll likely have a dickens of a time pronouncing their name — unless you're from their native Switzerland — you shouldn't have any trouble enjoying their first album We Did It.

For a group that's apparently been around for more than eight years, it's surprising that We Did It, released in the spring of 2000, is in fact their first CD, and even as such, was only initially created as a promotional tool. Perhaps because of its original intended use, giving the listener an idea of the group's sound in performance, the CD was recorded live over a series of concerts from April 22-24, 1999 at the Theater Stok in Zurich. Miraculously, with a few exceptions, the sound quality and mix do not suffer nearly as much as they often do in live recordings.

In their choice of music, musicianship, and overall persona, the quintet, made up of three men and two women, has positioned themselves somewhere between Manhattan Transfer/Lambert, Hendricks & Ross and The Real Group/Vox One. They appear to have been inspired by the style and repertoire of the former, with a penchant for swinging, lilting rhythms and a specialty in sophisticated group and solo scats. From the latter, they've tried to borrow the highest standards of ensemble singing and an affinity for rich, complex harmonies. The result is a group showing off their tight blend and good "feel" as they tackle a nice mix of hip covers and nifty originals, almost all in the vocal jazz school.

Now, a little inspiration can go a long way. But to some extent, Dweelja Doobap has not yet found the perfect balance between the various groups they may desire to emulate. Their scats are magnificently crafted (and in the opening track Ain't Nobody take flight in the best muted trumpet I've heard in a cappella music), but do they really need a place in virtually every song on the album? I absolutely adored the opening and verse background accompaniment on Aquarius, but then why arbitrarily incorporate a scat into song which until said point had been a faithful, if somewhat funkified, cover of the original? Their version of Branford Marsalis and Buckshot Lefonque's Another Day has a cookin' R&B/soul/funk feel, and out of nowhere comes another scat! It just gets to be too much after a while, scat after scat, song after song.

Similarly, it certainly seems as though every member of the group can just flat-out sing. Really well. But just like the scatting, the listener doesn't need to notice this fact on every song. Subtlety and nuance could be put to good use by the soloists on this album. A certain restraint, call it "cool", is needed to give each song its unique character, especially when your bread-and-butter music is swingin' jazz. Letting it all hang out on each song gets a bit repetitive.

So basically, what these folks do, they do extraordinarily well. And as a fan of small, jazzy vocal ensembles, I truly enjoyed their album. I just hope that on the next one, they can find away to capitalize on their strengths without overdoing them. Here's hoping it doesn't take them another eight years.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Ain't Nobody (Else But You) (D. Erni) 5
2 We Did It (D. Erni) 4
3 WYSIWYG (D. Erni) 5
4 I'm Wondring If You Know (M. Dettwyler) 4
5 We're In Love (P. Austin/Arr. B. Tuor) 4
6 Äs Buurebüäbli I (trad/Arr. C. Flueler) 4
7 Aquarius (G. MacDermot, G. Ragni, J. Rado/Arr. D. Erni) 5
8 Comes Love (L. Brown, S. Stept, C. Tobias/Arr. B. Tuor) 4
9 Äs Buurebüäbli II (trad/Arr. C. Flueler) 5
10 Another Day (B. Marsalis, B. Gable, F. McComb/Arr. B. Tuor) 4
11 A Night in Tunisia (D. Gillespie/Arr. D. Erni) 4

This is the first CD from Zurich-based Dweelja Doobap (try saying that fast five times), and it's a really great album! Eleven tracks of great voices, terrific arrangements, and plenty of variety of style.

The first four tracks are original pieces, penned by group members. I'm often wary of originals, as there are plenty of people out there with great voices and no songwriting skills, but these are great songs with catchy tunes that get you humming along.

One of my favorite tracks was a really fun arrangement of Aquarius (from the musical Hair). The two traditional songs provided a nice contrast, and this group handles their ballads as well as they do the faster numbers.

Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of this album is that it was recorded live (over three performances). Performance errors are rare and not glaring, and you get a real sense of what a fun group they are live. Blend and balance are fantastic; this is a smoooooth sound.

My only negative comment is that in the middle of a couple of songs they sort of went on a bit...lots of doo-wahs and be-baps...this kind of stuff is fine live, but in a recording can make the average listener feel inclined to press that "next" button. This is pretty common in this style of performing, though.

The influences of groups like The Real Group are clear. If jazz a cappella, with those great twisty chords, is your style, go get this album!

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Ordering Information

CDs can be purchased in the USA from Mainely A Cappella, in Europe from UtopTon, and in Switzerland from Dweelja Doobap themselves.

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