Press- and other Voices

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio
Sophisticated Lady
With Depth and Skill

By Susanne Westerholt
About a year after the release of their latest CD "Just [b ]", Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio present us with their latest oeuvre; a CD with the ambitious title Sophisticated Lady. Anyone who has heard just [b], knows the power of expression and the technical brilliance of Bettina Pohle's voice, as well as the perfect interaction of all musicians. After the success of the last album, the four musicians went back into the studio, apparently out to raise the ante. This, of course, raises the expectations one has of the new album. And? - Bull's eye! Somehow the new CD sounds even a touch better than the last.
On her new CD, Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio guide us through a collection of well-known jazz standards, which they put their own interpretive stamp on. The warm and rich timbre in the voice of Bettina Pohle is already familiar to us from their previous recordings. Pohle perfectly masters the play with the colors and shades of sound.
It seems that Bettina Pohle is now delving even deeper into the emotions on her new CD. Surely, being someone who has an enormous vocal power especially in her lowest vocal range, helps. But this does not mean that Bettina Pohle's voice sounds less profound in the higher range, on the contrary! One need not be a jazz musician, to feel how she directly addresses and touches the audience with her voice.
The title song Sophisticated Lady is one of the best known jazz standards ever, virtually a must. A bit slower in tempo than the original played by Duke Ellington and his orchestra, Bettina Pohle draws all the stops and creates with her sensual and powerful voice a beautiful interpretation of this classic tune. With her voice, she explores the emotions to the bone. Soulful also the interlude on the bass by Lars Gühlcke.
In general, the Ralf Ruh Trio impresses with its tonal presence and the sensitive accompaniment of the vocal parts. The piano solo by Ralf Ruh and the brilliant percussion interlude by Peter Horisberger in Just One Of Those Things also give an impression of the enormous artistic and technical quality of the trio.
An absolute highlight on the album is also the title of ' S Wonderful by George Gershwin. Just listening to it puts one in a good mood right away. And that is certainly not due to the composition alone, but also to the interpretation by Bettina Pohle and the Ralf Ruh Trio: Full of wit, playfulness and with best timing between instrumentalist and singer, the four musicians twirl through the song. Even such exuberant emotions are savored to the fullest.
The acid test with regard to musical interaction is probably represented by the thoughtful title Nothin ' ever stays the same with its melancholic harmonies and especially with its few notes. The fewer tones and the more silence, the harder it is to play - as is well known - and also to play together. Both the four do masterfully; no trace of uncertainty in the voice of Bettina Pohle, supported by a wise and restrained accompaniment; just beautiful to listen to.
Bettina Pohle and Ralf RuhTrio never stay on the surface, never drift off into shallowness, instead they have the ability to enormous emotional depth. They can stand the silence but at the same time they do not hesitate to fully live out musically exuberant joy. Rare enough in the current jazz scene, but all the more beautiful when the listener does not get fobbed off with put-on emotions and wishy-washy music, but - as is the case with the current CD by Bettina Pohle and Ralf Ruh Trio - encounters artists whose music exudes realness and authenticity.


For fans of:
Billie Holiday - Dinah Washington - Judy Garland

„Sophisticated Lady” used to be one of my favorite songs in 1976 – Natalie Cole sang the soul-funk-piece – and also climbed the charts with it - long before she turned to jazz and became the" New Rising Star " of the vocal jazz scene in 1991 with her album" Unforgettable". For some time I have been seeing a German singer on the same very high level. The talk is of BETTINA POHLE from the German capital, whose album „Just [be] from 2012 I already introduced about a year ago. Now there is a new album out and it somehow completes the above mentioned circle. "Sophisticated Lady" is the title - the front cover of the CD alone is captivating - and this magic feeling runs through all the songs on the album.
The standard "What Is This Thing Called Love" is (in addition to three original songs) the first of 11 jazz classics performed by the Berlin native, together with the RALF RUH TRIO. The Broadway number from 1929, which won honors already through Ella Fitzgerald, swings filled with delicate cymbal syncopation by Peter Horisberger and hunting piano cascades by bandleader Ralf Ruh. Sung with her dark, soft voice, there is the "Billie Holiday" classic "Good Morning Heartache" - wonderful how the pianist lets himself "fall into it" right after the pickup! With a mischievous twinkle in her eye, the singer presents in "Let's Go Out And Have Some Fun" - an original composition - an "Ella " -worthy scat insert in this song, which even has the stuff to become a jazz standard. Strength lies in calmness: Enchantingly delicate sounds make the melancholy ballad "Nothin ' Ever Stays The Same " a highlight of the CD .
The motto of the CD features the singer from Berlin in Jerome Kern's classic "I'm Old Fashioned" and despite all the nostalgia practiced - the staccato cascade of Ralf Ruh make "S'Wonderful" a fine Headbanger for Modern jazz musicians – another superb performance here by the singer, who in her phrasing skillfully moves between the notes and then at the end resolves the theme straight to the point.
And then there is, of course, the "Sophisticated Lady" - this time as a great ballad – I knew a cover version (original: Duke Ellington) done by Linda Ronstadt and the rock group "Chicago". Also very nice the delicate drumming by Peter Horisberger in "Just One Of Those Things" - Gorgeous: The bluesy 6/8th shuffle "Things Is not What They Used To Be" with a fine sax solo by "special guest" Wolfgang Frister, who should be known already especially to Latin Jazz fans through his activities in the band he founded "Son Madol". In the excellent implementation of the Cole Porter tune "De- Lovely", the horn player can be heard once again. This grooving pearl provides a worthy ending to a great vocal jazz album.
CONCLUSION: "Sophisticated Lady" is musically and visually a "Diva" album - looking at the photograph of the inside covers and at the same time indulging in the music, one feels the authenticity mediated by BETTINA POHLE and the musicians. They manage something that many modern - even international - productions do not succeed in- they lead the audience into the magical cocktail club atmosphere of the 50s and 60s, like it used to be in New York or other jazz capitals.
Bronek Kubal©
Release date: 03-03-2014
available CD & digital album
Buying recommendation: K K K K K K K K K K

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio - Sophisticated Lady
(Octason Records / Pool Music + Media Service)
Berlin native Bettina Pohle is what one commonly refers to as full-blooded musician. Piano, flute and voice are just the main hobby-horses of the Berliner, who studied literature in Berkeley, California and who has gathered a wide range of musical experiences since the nineties of the last century, which eventually culminated in her first collaboration with the Ralf Ruh Trio recorded album "Time And Again" in 2011.
After her second album, "Just (b)" was released in 2012, now her third collaboration with the renowned Ralf Ruh Trio "Sophisticated Lady" was released just recently.
14 tracks long - with the execption of two original songs - Pohle interprets with her calm, but for vocal jazz unusually edgy, idiosyncratic voice, classic jazz standards of the American Songbook.
Material by George and Ira Gershwin, Billie Holiday, and again Cole Porter (SOUL TRAIN reported numerous times about all of the above) and the aforementioned original compositions make the work a varied excursion in terms of popular jazz interpretation and improvisation, with Bettina Pohle's voice being able to pour in equal parts of structure and sustainability into the musical conception, which proves sucessful in every respect.
Pianist and composer Ralf Ruh, bassist Lars Gühlcke, drummer Peter Horisberger and album guest Wolfgang Frister on Sax do a great job letting their music stand as an equal element without accepting Pohle's expressive voice as a dominant part - poetic justice.
"Sophisticated Lady" by Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio is only on the surface another in a series of countless vocal jazz albums with or without heart and soul. It is instead an individual insight into an unique understanding of music and musical experience by a wonderfully gritty, organic, yet incredibly self-confident and mature performing Bettina Pohle, who with this album has made it conclusively clear that interpretations of the great jazz classics do not have to always be done with saccharine, drifting, nebulizing singing but may - and should – sometimes certainly be answered with a confident demeanor. Bettina Pohle is in the truest sense of the word a "Sophisticated Lady" - Bravo!
© Holger S. Jansen

Sophisticated Lady - With Bettina Pohle on musical discovery tour in America in the 40s
April 4, 2014 | Kirsten Schuhmann
A touch of East Coast melancholy blows over the first few songs of the album. Closing one's eyes while listening to the gentle stirring bar jazz tones, we join in our minds the last figures of the small corner bar in New York in the 40s, enveloped by smoky twilight, similar to the paintings of Edward Hopper. The music - one last highlight of this otherwise rather thought-provoking evening. A shot of glamor in the otherwise cold nostalgic corner. We watch as a small spotlight forces its way to give us a glimpse at the small stage of the corner bar through the thick haze.

"Nighthawks" - Edward Hopper (1942)

There she stands, the "Sophisticated Lady", whose voice resurrects the glamorous times that once were at home on big stages in the trendy theaters. The bar guests, taciturn and concentrated solely on the Jack Daniel's level in their glasses, raise their heads and seem to shake off a big chunk of sadness at this moment, be it through tactful toe-tapping of their worn shoes or the musically motivated pulling up of the corners of their mouths.
The first sounds of the Lady hit the marrow of the otherwise encrusted hearts like sun rays. Gently they move images of love, pleasure, memories, wealth, togetherness and the lack of it through the classical jazz terrain of Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and especially Cole Porter.
Especially the latter would certainly have liked the velvety, warm jazz interpretations of the native Berliner. With each sweep of her voice, the listener experiences a further facet of this same "Sophisticated Lady" which if checked in the dictionary will render 15 different ways to translate the essence of the Lady into German. So it 's not much of a coincidence when fourteen jazz pearls crown the CD, exhausting all possible ways of interpretation: from experienced and refined to complex and educated or classy and highly developed.
All this is Bettina Pohle, not just an album long but with heart and especially with soul, having to shine more than anything else in jazz in order to open up the demanding rhythms and instrumentations to an audience.
"Singing jazz to me means more than anything". A statement from the (unfortunately somewhat sparse) CD booklet that is easy to believe. After all, in addition to several photos of Pohle in the "sophisticated lady"- look of the 40's, we also get a view of the accompanying Ralf Ruh Trio, which rounds out the image of the " Nighthawks " that we have spun at the beginning, perfectly. With that very Swiss band leader and piano virtuoso Bettina Pohle seems to have a magical bond, which for three albums now has been firmly tied around Pohle's singing with casual, smoothly played Gin &Tonic jazz tunes.
" Fortunately!", one wants to exclaim, "did Mrs. Pohle turn her back on the US after 12 years”, a time ennobled by several musical awards and crowned by an Assistant Professorship in the Humanities at the San Francisco College of Music. Best preconditions to transport the genuine jazz feeling to "Good Old Germany". And this we "German Krauts" can be mighty proud of, because Pohle is one of the few German jazz vocalists, who vocally masters the musical balancing act across the pond with ease.
Even if one or the other serious jazz fare is lacking the ease with which a Julie London shook off the Weltschmerz put on her by the music, Bettina Pohle presents an impressive volume of sound, in which especially the low notes find their way to the happily melancholized listener.
All in all a nice trip into the world of smoky American bars with their occupants sentenced to several years of melancholia and joined – in this case – not only by jazz lovers.

02-18-2014 08:39 the name says it all
Music Jazz: Bettina Pohle enchants with her new album "Sophisticated Lady"
From: GFDK - Bettina Pohle
Of the darkest blue is the sound of the blues "Things ain't wehat they used to be" sung by Bettina Pohle with her incomparably low warm voice on her new CD "Sophisticated Lady", released on Valentine's Day 2014 and accompanied with reliable elegance by the Ralf Ruh Trio (currently nominated for the Swiss Jazz Award) and by Wolfgang Frister on the sax.
11 standards of vocal jazz, including " ' S wonderful" or "Just One Of Those Things", and two original compositions, "Nothin'ever stays the same" and "Let 's go out and have some fun," take the listener on an hour long acoustic journey through some of the classics of American vocal jazz history. In addition, Nashville resident and Johnny Cash - composer Thomas O ' Connell supplied the quartet with "My Heart Goes with You", a song that rounds off the playlist of the CD wonderfully.

Sophisticated Lady - the name of Bettina Pohle's CD says it all
The band swings cool and relaxed, and the singer shows yet again that Germany does have a few first class jazz vocalists that are to be reckoned with, next to all the mass produced tiny Pop voices.

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio - Sophisticated Lady
Editorial March 16, 2014,
CD reviews , Jazz, Music

What is this thing - called love"? With these words, Bettina Pohle and the Ralf Ruh Trio welcome us on their album "Sophisticated Lady", published March 3, 2014. And this is how the album begins, which for lovers with high expectations on jazz should be especially interesting.
The opener, " What Is This Thing Called Love" already indicates the direction in which it goes: Minimalist jazz in a classic style. No bells and whistles, instead just pure jazz. Ornate piano waves, grounded by a soulful bass and a drum section that accompanies sometimes playfully, sometimes drives.
Musically, " What Is This Thing Called Love" is not examplary of the album, because already the following "Good Morning Heartache" shows with how much feeling Ms. Pohle and her musical companions get down to business.
Quiet tones take turns with virtuosic tracks and passages that carry us off into another world. With an unerring instinct and very naturally Bettina Pohle dominates the pieces, which most certainly have their own special charm in live performances. The arrangements demonstrate a great joy of playing and a very special feeling for the songwriting in jazz.

Sophisticated Lady
Octason Records

One can see it already when looking at the nicely fashioned cover of the CD: Berlin jazz singer Bettina Pohle and the trio accompanying her, with Ralf Ruh (p), Lars Gühlcke (b) and Peter Horisberger (dr), devoted themselves to the "Golden Age of Jazz" on their new album. On its playlist one finds a great number of arrangements of timeless jazz standards such as "What is this thing called love" (Cole Porter) or "Good Morning Heartache" (Billie Holloday), nicely interspersed with original compositions such as "Let's go out and have some fun". Listening to it I find myself occassionally reminded of movie classics like "Gilda" with Rita Hayworth.
Anybody who loves vocal jazz with a lot of charm, charisma and a fine sense for the bewitching moment should definitely listen to this enchanting "Sophisticated Lady"...

What is this Thing called Love?
Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio:
CD - Sophisticated Lady

This CD is definitely"Jazz" and nothing else - it does not want to modernize or even "re-invent" vocal jazz, instead it is about saving, remembering and “redesigning” vocal jazz. The latter being something completly different than the tried and unbearably strained "reinventing oneself ". The way it should be is that a good singer can sing a classic tune in "their" very own way, their version ought to be different from other known versions. Whether this works depends on the artist's skill and musical creativity, but the singer need not have to reinvent" themselves!
The new CD " Sophisticated Lady " makes one immediately listen up despite the fact of how widely known the songs are, mainly through Bettina Pohle's distinctive voice and her way of interpreting. The new recording of these standards get their musical stimulus by the surprising change of great warmth and feeling to coolness or harsh beauty in the singing of the artist. Bettina Pohle's interpretations give the often-heard songs new musical impulses. Nowhere are they vocally blurry or "portentously breathed", and a far cry from being compliant, easy to consume" cuddle Jazz".
The song in which the jazz accents glow in their highest dynamics is "Things is not what They used to be". Bettina Pohle surprises with robust tones that suit her very well. Here she sings so recklessly that their voice gets a rough, almost dirty tone quality. Special Guest Wolfgang Frister shines with a fabulous sax solo. The interaction of all artists makes this song the most vital and "jazz flashiest " highlight of the entire CD.
A similar "dirty" coloring of her notes can also be heard in " Stormy Weather". This deeply sad Harold Arlen ballad also belongs to the Great American Songbook, and has captivated listeners since its origin in 1933 with its unusually large jazz content and has since been sung with great joy by many black jazz vocalists. Bettina's version does – inspite of the sad content – never sound whiny, but instead rough, unforgiving, almost accusing in tone and increasingly louder towards the end.
As always, she also impresses with her smart, text based phrasing. She has mastered the intricacies of gradual distance and devotion. Her voice is warm in the depths - but can also suddenly sound "harsh", especially when strong accentuations in some song passages make individual words stand out. The sum of her very fine vocal ideosyncrasies make for the appeal of her interpretations of these standards.
© Werner Matrisch , Cologne February 27, 2014
unabridged version of the review:

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio
Just [b]
Sensual and technically brilliant
„I sing therefore I am“ is written on the cover of Bettina Pohle's latest CD, which appears to be a translation suggestion from a dictionary for the word „to be“. This is obviously the life motto of the versatile Berliner, who lived in the US for an extended period of time. Initially out and about in classical music, Pohle switched to jazz during her time in the US; and - to put it in Berliners' terms - that's a good thing, too, because Pohle's expressive voice, full of character, is virtually predestined for jazz.
With Just [b], Bettina Pohle is presenting her second album, this time accompanied by the Ralf Ruh Trio with Ralf Ruh at the piano, Lars Gühlcke on the bass and Peter Horisberger on drums. Along with the interpretations of jazz classics, the disc also contains an original composition by Ruh and Pohle. Unfortunately, there is no CD booklet with it.
From the outset, the striking thing is Pohle's extraordinarily warm timbre: expressive, strong and still transparent, such as in „The Man I Love“ by George and Ira Gershwin, which brings out her vocal timbre wonderfully especially in her low range. Likewise in Eden Ahbez' „Nature Boy“, which in this interpretation is interspersed with Latin sounds, which are particularly skillfully mastered by the pianist. This song interpretation, too, is characterized by Pohle's expressiveness. However, sensuality and warm timbre must not let one forget that Pohle is also technically very versed; with flexible agogics in the individual phrases she pointedly ramps up the expression.
In „Angel Eyes“, a jazz standard from the 1940s, written by Matt Dennis and Earl Brent, Pohle shows that her voice can also groove. This is a title one can hardly sing as written, not exact singing but expression is what is demanded here. Pohle answers to this demand skillfully by using her voice nimbly and playfully, accompanied gingerly by The Ralf Ruh Trio.
The real surprise on this CD is „Beneath the Midnight Moon“ a gorgeous song, composed by Ralf Ruh with lyrics by Bettina Pohle. Not only does Pohle's voice come into effect particularly well in it; the song is written with great skill and quality that rival international jazz standards without effort. The Ralf Ruh Trio accompanies perceptively and gently. Good timing, rhythmic secureness and mutual close listening inform the overall music playing of Pohle and the Ralf Ruh Trio on this CD.
Hopefully we will hear more from Bettina Pohle, preferably again with the Ralf Ruh Trio. Perhaps the label then decides to print a real CD booklet with all the bells and whistles. This music
deserves it.
Susanne Westerholt, OMM (Online Musik Magazin)

timeless Jazz music
Music Jazz: With Just [b] Bettina Pohle presents her 2 nd album, accompanied this time by the Ralf Ruh Trio
From: GFDK - Bettina Pohle
Just [b] 13 songs: ballads, up-tempo swing, blues to latin, standards and an original, elegant vocal jazz, "old-fashioned" in the sense of old school. Not effect or passing fads guide Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio's interpretation, but instead their deep appreciation of the beauty of the original music and lyrics, or as the press put it: /.../it shows their devotion to jazz - and to story-telling." (SRS Swiss Radio & TV/Apéro).
Singing standards or writing jazz in standard fashion in times where mainly the "newest" and most "different" jazz musicians/music seem to promise success, is a little bit like swimming against the tide, but one has to agree with the American jazz connoisseur David Friedlaender, who recently wrote:
"The beauty of singing a standard is that it is not just about you, a standard is a piece of music that is shared cultural “artifact”. When you sing it you are joining in, personally contributing your expression to the music culture in a way that can join people together. You are saying I know that “Moonlight in Vermont” feeling and this is how I feel it. I think this maybe why people love to hear so many people's versions of standards."
Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio – their versions of timeless jazz classics is music that gets under your skin, stays in your head, touches your heart and makes you hungry for more.

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio

Octason Records, 2012 - OSR 21201
When first listening, and without reading the thin booklet or even rummaging about in the internet, one immerses into a past long gone, a past that got freshend-up. An American sounding voice, accompanied by a jazz-piano-trio; together they revere sixteen timeless jazz virtuosi. And then suddenly one notices that all of this is coming from the cultural capital (and not only) of the old Europe: Berlin.
Bettina Pohle is German and has always been singing. Her life moves between the German music business and California, where she doesn't just sing but also leads a life in academic research and teaching. We owe three solo records to her already and two more with pianist Ralf Ruh, among them „Just [b]“.
Pohle knows where she wants to go, and she states it clearly with her extraordinarily strong voice - which is raspy one moment and jet black the next, and then again crystal clear and bright - taking it back to her hometown Berlin. She sings in perfect accordance with the rhythm and never disappoints Ruh's expectations, this exquisite pianist who makes suspenseful plots sound relevant and sober. Bettina Pohle adopts the harmonic fabric of „The man I love“ without immitating any past diva; or „Don't get around much anymore“, a bewitching and in it's composition dazzlingly beautiful song.
A spotless album, with which the singer lets us plunge into days gone by with a voice that projects into the future.
Alceste Ayroldi für Jazzitalia

Standards for the Blue Hour
Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio - "just [b]"
by Frank Becker
S ometimes soft, occasionally brittle, even dramatic, narrative, then again gravelly – the likeable Berliner Bettina Pohle interprets a dozen standards of the American songbook on her latest album „Just [b]“, adding the extra from her own music kitchen: „Beneath the Midnight Moon“ - a title she co-wrote with her pianist Ralf Ruh – and which can stand comparison easily.
The well-travelled artist's biography shows work done with renowned colleagues such as Esther Kaiser, Jörg Seidel, Celine Rudolph and Nicolai Thärichen. The traces can be found in the songs by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, Sammy Cahn, Duke Ellington, Oscar Levant or George Gershwin, all of which she slips over her own (fitting) dress.
It is not least due to the unostentatious classic trio accompaniment of the Ralf Ruh Trio that this album has turned out to be an album for the cocktail hour, the Blue Hour. The swinging piano, full of character, played by Ralf Ruh – every so often in the style of Oscar Petersen - , Peter Horisberger's almost „invisible“ drums and especially the gentle voice of the double bass, made to talk by Lars Gühlcke, provide Bettina Pohle with the foundation that guarantees for a delightful short hour, sometimes dreamy like in „Angel Eyes“, or prancing in Latin-American style like in Eden Ahbez's „Nature Boy“. A well-rounded affair.

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio - just [b]
Bettina Pohle, voc - Ralf Ruh, piano - Lars Gühlcke, bass - Peter Horisberger, drums
© 2012 Octason Records
You And The Night And The Music  2:46 - 2. Blame It On My Youth  4:34 - 3. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (My Baby)?  4:25 - 4. The Man I Love  4:50 - 5. Big Spender  1:59 - 6. Come Rain Or Come Shine  4:41 - 7. Nature Boy  5:55 - 8. Don't Get Around Much Anymore  3:43 - 9. Beneath the Midnight Moon (Ruh/Pohle) 4:41 - 10. Angel Eyes  5:03 - 11. Teach Me Tonight  4:04 - 12. God Bless The Child  5:31 - 13. ByeBye Blackbird  4:13  -  Gesamtspielzeit: 56:24

Just [b]
Octason Records
Time after time a vocal jazz record is a beautiful thing! Already with her first recording with the Ralf Ruh piano trio, Berlin based singer Bettina Pohle caught my positive attention. Now her second album „Just [b]“ is out, and its elegance and charm best unfolds in the hours of dusk. It is simply fun to listen to Bettina's slightly dark and velvet voice, be it in the snappy opener „You And The Night And The Music“, in the lascivious „Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (My Baby)?“, or in the marvelous „Big Spender“ from the Musical „Sweet Charity“, accentuated by a smacking contrabass. Recommended!
Rainer Guérich, chief editor inMusic

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio
"Just (b)"

Already with her previous CD „Time and Again“, Berlin jazz singer Bettina Pohle had shown that she is rightly deemed to be a sensitive and creative performer of jazz standards. With her current album she once again confirms this appraisal and again she has with the congenial Ralf Ruh a reliable partner at her side. Completed with bass player Lars Gühlcke and drummer Peter Horisberger, Bettina Pohle has engaged a sensitively acting trio, which interprets the breezily arranged standards wonderfully. In this vein the classic „Big Spender“, for example, receives a completely new livery, away from heavy chords and driving rhythms – terrific! But also „Come Rain or Come Shine“ or „Angel Eyes“ - both standards heard a million times – appear here in a new light: Cool and intimate at once. And this might be what Bettina Pohle had in mind with her CD, i.e. to show what the basic essence of these standards is, what they are like by their nature - „just be“ as program. She and her trio accomplished this well!
CD, 2012, 13 Tracks, Label: Octason Records
Marion Möhle, Melodiva,22721

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio: Just [b]
A singer previously unknown to me is being accompanied by a classic jazz trio. The CD's program is diverse, besides jazz standards the four artists offer musical tunes, rhythm&blues songs and pop songs like „Nature Boy“ and Bye Bye Blackbird“ (which have long been part of the jazz repertoire), and with „Beneath the Midnight Moon“ even an original number. The quartet does justice to all of them. The singer is excellent and the trio outstanding. And that is not to be taken for granted. Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and many others have set the bar high, Bettina Pohle is up to par - with best instrumental support. In recent years numerous Northern European and Northern American female vocalists have been highly praised and promoted accordingly by the record labels. Often rightfully so. However, domestic artists can keep up, which this CD proves. It is suited both for careful listening and for having it play in the background.
Herbert Huber

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio – Just [b]
„Great drama“ is the thought that comes to mind when the first sounds of Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh Trio's album reach one's ear. An endless drum role and piano playing that demands cutting up a mean floor. One wants to book the four musicians right away for an evening gala performance. They deliver jazzy music, which is a bit serious and very entertaining at the same time.
She stands leaning against a tree, Bettina Pohle – in a glamorous red evening gown and a black leather jacket. This contradiction on the album cover already reflects what we are up for: The contradiction in the music. „Just [b]“ starts fiercly and ostentatiously with „You and the Night and the Music“, immediately followed by „Blame it on my Youth“, a first jazz ballad followed by many more. Bettina Pohle's singing is sassy, confident and sophisticated. And every time one wants to lean back and relax, the music starts to seethe again. Ralf Ruh and his two band colleagues accompany the jazz vocalist's singing worthily. With Ralf Ruh at the piano, Lars Gühlcke at the bass and Peter Horisberger at the drums she found three of Berlin's best jazz musicians. They provide for the kind of accompaniment which highlights a good voice on stage. And so here, too, we find contradiction to be the recurrent theme of the album: Bettina's down-to-earth singing on one hand juxtaposed by the instrument's (especially the piano's) snazzy accompaniment on the other hand.
Big Spender“, originally written by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields for the musical „Sweet Charity“ is being presented here in a new and very soft manner. Also „Nature Boy“, a popsong originally and then mostly rendered as a jazzhymn, finds a fitting place on the album and sounds out of Bettina Pohle's mouth like it was made for her. The collaboration with the Swiss jazz pianist, drummer and composer Ralf Ruh is thoroughly successful. It becomes clear: Skills and passion complement each other here.
And for all who are wondering what the highlighted „b“ in brackets stands for, or the grammatical explanations of the verb: Well, imagination knows no limits. Maybe we experience through the music what happens when one is simply pursuing what one stands for. And so we think [b] does not „only“ signify Bettina and her musical pals, it also wants to express that one should simply be the way one is, to not worry about it, and to JUST BE.
Star rating: 8 of 10 stars
Sabine Werner

Just [b] – A Stroke of Luck within the German Vocal Jazz Scene
When Bettina Pohle returned to her native Berlin after twelve years in the U.S., the city was given a truly „Sophisticated Lady“. No, this famous Duke Ellington composition is not on her latest CD but everything else which sophisticated stands for - cultivated, advanced, subtle, challenging, differentiated, elegant – can be found in Bettina Pohle's singing, both in ballads and in up-tempo songs.
It seems as though everything the singer lived and learned, her experiences, the joys and suffering of her impressive artist biography has subtly flown into her interpretations of classic jazz tunes./.../ One of the vocal highlights on her new CD (besides „Blame it on my Youth“) is „Angel Eyes“. During the song's first one and a half minutes, the singer is accompanied very effectively only by a bass, and through this minimalist sound the striking timbre and sensitivity of her voice comes out particularly well. The listener is spell-bound by the great intensity of her performance, in which emotionality and detachement are always in balance. /.../ Nonstop „finger snapping“ distinguishes also „Bye bye Blackbird“. With an easy and cool drive and the best of timing, the singer swings beautifully in harmony with her accomplished trio.
This true feast for the ears is provided by the splendid sound of the entire CD, and not least by the fantastic trio (piano: Ralf Ruh, Lars Gühlcke, bass, Peter Horisberger, drums). The musicians shine in their solos and accompany Bettina Pohle expressively and with dynamic strength. The Ralf Ruh Trio sets the jazzy accents for the intimate and authentic qualities of the singer, thus making it a perfect musical liaison. Bettina Pohle's jazz singing convinces less with pure dynamics than with her finely graded art of phrasing, with intelligent understatement, her knowledge of the lyrics and their communication, and through an emotional depth which her warm alto voice transports in a one of a kind way.
Werner Matrisch, Köln

For fans of: Caecilie Norby - Nikki Yanofsky - Hilary Cole

On the Cover of the CD, an attractive blond is leaning against a tree, in which the graphic artist scratched some explanations of the English verb „to be“, among them: „I sing, Therefore I am“ and „Home is where my Heart is“. Trying to classify the music, I am guessing classical music or jazz. Alright, let's put the disc in and see if I was right!
Right from the first few measures of the album, the listener is struck by the superb sound. Drums and piano enter in – a short break – then the singer's voice comes in and bowls me over. Warmly and sonorously the singer's voice floats through the first great swing tune „You And The Night And The Music“ . The album „Just [b]“ was recorded by Berlin Jazz singer BETTINA POHLE and the RALF RUH TRIO. Tenderly the listener's soul gets stroked in „Blame It On My Youth“ - when bass player Lars Gühlcke and drummer Peter Horisberger slip into the song at 01:27, goosebump-feeling is inevitable – a wonderful „cocktail jazz“ ballad!
„Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (My Baby)“ ist finger snapping cool jazz – goes a bit in the direction of Nina Simone, relaxed the singer eases into the groove, Ralf Ruh shines with wonderful accord „voicings“. The quartet manages a successful feint with „The Man I Love“ - the composition starts out calmly and balladic, suddenly in minute 02:19 picks up a fast latin jazz pace, only to present itself from minute 04.07 on almost unnoticably as swinging walking blues.
With „Big Spender“ the CD presents a song from the 1966 musical „Sweet Charity“ (one of the most famous renditions of the song is Shirley Bassey's version), and one of the album's highlights is „Nature Boy“ , a song in which drummer Horisberger subtly and sensitvely canters on the frame of his drum set. Music to dream by presents the wonderfully melancholic tune „Beneath the Midnight Moon“ (with romantic phrasing and enchanting piano playing by Ralf Ruh. And with a humorous „Bye Bye“ the 4 cheerful protagonists bid their fare-wells, after a grooving „Bye Bye Blackbird“ , 4 minutes long one of the most beautiful performances by the excellent singer.
CONCLUSION: Traditonal and yet modern vocal jazz, unbound by the usual sales relevant demands. Great stuff for purists but also for newcomers of the genre. BETTINA POHLE from Berlin sings & whispers with a soft, dark & seductive voice like I haven't heard it in this genre for a long time. Just delicious! Recommended for listening: A delicate, dry & simultaneously fizzy pinot blanc cabinet wine from Franconia.
Date of release 02/14/2012
available: CD & digitales Album
buy recommendation: K K K K K K K K K K
Bronek Kubal aka The Real Dr.Music,

Berlin based jazz singer Bettina Pohle has a rather impressive new album out with Octason Records.  Her song selection on the album is excellent.  The highlight of the album for me is her rendition of “Nature Boy”, in which she harmonizes with her talented rhythm section quite well.  Another track worthy of recognition is “Is You or Is You Ain't My Baby”, which is done in the fashion of Diana Krall.  The same is true of the album's jazz standard “The Man I Love”.  Another excellent track from the album that is equally rich in jazz history is “Come Rain or Come Shine”, which Pohle handles with grace and elegance.  One last jazz standard the aficionado should tune in for is “Angel Eyes”, which highlights both the distinguished character of the featured vocalist and her accompanying rhythm section.     
Dustin Garlitz, Editor

"Just [b]"
A good album! Well done - both with regard to music and vocals. Wulf Müller, All in Music Service, Spain

Reasonable, good and worth hearing
With Time And Again , Bettina Pohle and Ralf Ruh are presenting a wonderfully poignant CD. With apparent ease the duo interprets great songs (among them songs by Michel Legrand,Cole Porter), we hear an exciting version of Ike&Tina Turner's song "Black Coffee", and the last title, "Cry me a River" by Arthur Hamilton, gives one goosepumps - Bettina Pohle can sing! And whoever thought it takes more than just a piano and a voice to make a whole album interesting is taught better in an impressive way! Released in 2011 by 7us Mediagroup 7jazz/ NMD.
JazzScene Hannover

Not just for Jazz-Fans: Bettina Pohle and Ralf Ruh - voice and piano, it doesn't take more to produce an intense record. The two dedicated themselves to "famous" songs, and whether a Cole Porter title or a song by Ike & Tina Turner: The songs are interpreted freshly and convincingly, everything sounds so easy, so effortless. Great album: Time And Again (7Up-jazz/ NMD Vertrieb).

Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh
"Time And Again"

Berlin Jazzsinger Bettina Pohle proves a versatile and multi-faceted interpret of great standards such as "Lover Man", "Black Coffee" or "Love For Sale". With her dark timbre and distinctive voice she succeeds in distracting new nuances from the familiar classics, which she achieves not least due to her congenial partner at the piano. With Ralf Ruh she has found an experienced and award-winning pianist who has long made a name for himself above and beyond the borders of his Swiss homeland. The packaging of this CD in shades of grey at first sight makes it appear a bit plain, which might even be confirmed in the first few sounds – however, after listening carefully, which this disc more than deserves, the extraordinary quality of this duo becomes apparent. An insiders' tip – for now, but hopefully for not much longer! CD, 2011, 9 Tracks, Label: 7jazz
Marion Möhle, Melodiva

CD-Tip: Bettina Pohle & Ralf Ruh «Time And Again»
Bettina Pohle studied literature in the US and worked as a classical soprano before discovering Jazz for herself and also that her voice has a beautiful warm quality when venturing out into the lowest depth of her vocal range. A few years ago the German born singer returned to Berlin and together with the exciled Swiss pianist Ralf Ruh she descried playing music in duo formation: Time and Again shows their devotion to jazz - and to story-telling.
SRS Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen/Apéro

Time and Again
* * * * *

Friends of vocal jazz will be happy about this recording by the Berlin Singer Bettina Pohle and Swiss pianist Ralf Ruh. Both have been working together since 2008 and "Time and Again" is their first joint CD which they recorded in an intimate duo constellation. Bettina Pohle rises to top form at the mike with her dark velvet voice and is accompanied congenially on the black and white keys by Ralf Ruh. The CD's playlist does not only contain Cole Porter's "Love for Sale, but also Ike & Tina Turner's classic "Black Coffee" and the timeless "Cry me a River" which in its spartan soundscape comes out of the loudspeakers particularly tingling. Well done!
Rainer Guérich, chief editor inMusic

Her sound is so very mature and confident that the jazz listener feels that her CD belongs in one's internal catalogue of music that gets listened to over and over again.
John Juliano

I am TOTALLY taken with your CD!! So beautiful! You've got so many warm colours in your voice that it is a joy to listen to your shaping of each song.
Nina Omilian, singer

I sent one of your CDs to a close favorite friend and colleague of mine for her birthday. Today she told me that she had had a wonderful, romantic evening with her husband – the fireplace, your CD... She said the thought your voice and the songs were utterly beautiful ......
Anke Stahl

Great songs and gorgeous singing.
David Friedlaender

Great, absolutely great!

I am thrilled about your way of singing. Your vocal technique - and with it tension and relaxation- all of it takes place on the highest level. For this you need very good breathing! Those preconditions enable you to carry into effect the melodic stream, the flow of it all to such a degree of perfection.
Fritz Weisse, conductor

There's this way she 'throws' her voice, very sexy, like a tease, somehow, like a boomerang or a yo-yo, she tosses it out and it comes back to her. I love it!
Jennifer Severin

I would like to congratulate you on this work and this also goes for the wonderful pianist. I somehow felt transported back in to the South of the US...
Prof. Dr. H.D. Pohle

I always suspected you would be great at jazz. You were already a great classical singer but I had a hunch that jazz was the vehicle that would really bring out the soulful qualities of your voice, and how right I was! You really are a fantastic singer!
Kevin Kaiser, musician

All in all the material and the way it is sung/played is absolutely authentic. One believes every sentence you say and every word. You really managed to use the music as a means of transport for what you had to say – which is essentially the goal one wants to reach. It can hardly be done much better....
Jörg Seidel, Jazz-guitarist/singer

I'm so impressed with the CD!!! You sound fantastic!!! The depth of your voice matches perfectly with this style! I really enjoy your extended tones at the final cadences. A pure and clear sound.
Briach Ciach, composer

I would like to congratulate you and your accompanist to this attractive recording.
Gerd Kratzat, Acoustic Music Books/Ears Love Music

Terrific! A Star is born!
Marion Angulanza, paintress

CD (and especially your voice) sounds very good, it is all played in a relaxed and tasteful way - also from your accompanist at the piano.