Albanians in London has been spoiled in recent months. After the fantastic brass band Tirana Fanfara and old master of music Hysni Zela playing in London in October, another great Albanian singer Elina Duni came to play at the Southbank yesterday, part of the London jazz festival.

Elina Duni quartet is formed of 3 musicians that play piano, cello and battery and the jazz vocalist Elina. The quartet came together in Switzerland where Elina immigrated from Albania at the age of 10. ‘Switzerland is my second beautiful home’, she told the audience yesterday.

Last night’s was Elina’s first performance in London. The band is very popular in Europe, especially in Switzerland, France and Belgium and have received positive critical acclaims. Mixing old with new, they have created a unique style that transfixes the audience.

Elina sings old Albanian folk songs, re-worked by her and her band and executed in a unique style that blends Albanian traditional melodies with jazz sounds.

Although lyrics are in Albanian, Elina takes care to give a summary of the meaning to the audience who is then invited on a musical journey that goes from plaintive and melancholic sounds to soaring joyful rhythms.

Elina’s quartet has enchanted european audiences and it was about time the British public discovered her. She is a great jazz singer, beautiful and very charming on stage, with great vocals and able to improvise, in true jazz style.

Not having heard of the band before, a member of the audience said ‘their music sounded as something coming from very far’.

The exotic and ‘from somewhere else’ feel of the music was felt not only by the British audience but Albanians too, because of the jazzy execution of old Albanian songs. It did also bring back memories and emotions from another time for Albanians there were there. Although quite melancholic and dealing with themes of exile and separation, Elina’s music also talks about love and passion, joy and hope.

We wish to see them again perform in Britain and bring their mix of old Albanian music with contemporary jazz on stage again.