Jazz Articles

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Juhani Aaltonen & Iro Haarla: Kirkastus

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On the sublime Kirkastus saxophonist & flutist Juhani Aaltonen and pianist & harpist Iro Haarla engage in a series of intimate and impressionistic duets that brim with lyricism and spontaneity. A definite spirituality marks all ten of Haarla's compositions and, although various Psalms inspired most, the sacred nature of the music goes beyond strict religious boundaries to a universal and timeless devotional state. The ethereal “Long Sole Sound," for instance, has a Zen serenity. Haarla's strummed, sparse harp strings form ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Juhani Aaltonen & Iro Haarla: Kirkastus

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The most striking thing about Kirkastus--a duo outing by a pair of seasoned Finnish free jazzers, saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen and pianist/harpist Iro Haarla--is the unalloyed beauty of the sound they've made. Aaltonen, in his eighth decade now, has the longer term veteran's credentials. His saxophone style draws from late period John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, with moments of growling and feral roars, subdued and refined here, and set beside moments of reverie and introspection and nuanced story-telling, with the occasional ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Juhani Aaltonen: To Future Memories – The Music of Antti Hytti

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Can anyone just decide, on a whim, to take up an instrument and simply become a working musician anymore? That's precisely what Juhani Aaltonen did as an eighteen year-old living in the town of Inkeroinen, in central Finland back in the early 1950s. Apart from a year of study at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and a semester at Berklee (where he worked with Herb Pomeroy), Aaltonen is that rarest of all birds: a self-taught master musician who learned directly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Juhani Aaltonen: To Future Memories

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Preeminent Finnish saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen is approaching his 80th birthday and continues to meld his technical artistry with fresh concepts. This album features compositions by composer and bassist Antti Hytti, who penned many of these works for movies and short films, featuring the saxophonist performing on the originals. Aaltonen alternates between tenor sax and flutes. With his noteworthy associates, including the dual bass attack of Ulf Krokfors (right channel) and Ville Herrala (left channel), the music takes on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Juhani Aaltonen: To Future Memories

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Helsinki-based TUM Records, launched in 2003, “promotes more experienced musicians whose work is not favored by commercial trends of our time." The label is especially supportive of the freer end of jazz's spectrum, offering up albums like Kolibri by Finish pianist/harpist Iro Haarla, violinist Billy Bang's Da Bang, and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's Occupy the World, to name just a few of the label's adventurous 2013 offerings. Finnish saxophonist/flutist Juhani Aaltonen (b. 1935) , who cites saxophonist John ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Juhani Aaltonen / Heikki Sarmanto: Conversations

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The splendid music on Conversations is as close to the celebration of Impressionism in modern music as possible. It is true that saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen and pianist Heikki Sarmanto create epic narratives here, and also true that both act as characters in those narratives. Of greater significance, however, is the extraordinary emotion of these musical stories, facilitated by sublime technique and use of dynamics by both musicians. Aaltonen crowns his playing with broad glissandi in longlegato passages marked by staggeringly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Juhani Aaltonen & Heikki Sarmanto: Conversations

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Saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen and pianist Heikki Sarmanto are two icons of the Finnish jazz scene. Collaborating constantly for almost fifty years in myriad outfits and formats, despite many moves in their busy musical careers, they have never recorded as a duo. These two “incurable romantics," as Aaltonen defines it, use this opportunity to record an album featuring their unique musical communication as one musical entity. All 16 improvisations--based on Sarmanto's melodies, spontaneous creations in the studio and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Juhani Aaltonen and Heikki Sarmanto: Conversations

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Many musicians from other countries come to the United States to study their art and then remain to build careers. Others, like saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen and pianist Heikki Sarmanto, both from Finland, attended programs in the US--in both cases at Boston's Berklee College--and then returned home to perform and record.With a history of five decades of musical collaboration, the Finnish legends open an ongoing dialogue with Conversations, a two-CD set of nearly two hours worth of free improvisation--a ...


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