403

Heikki Sarmanto: Moonflower, A Boston Date & Counterbalance

By

Sign in to view read count








Heikki Sarmanto
Moonflower
Porter
2008


Heikki Sarmanto
A Boston Date
Porter
2008


Heikki Sarmanto
Counterbalance
EMI/Odean—Porter
2008




Porter Records, one of the most unpretentiously eclectic labels around today, now has three titles by Finnish composer/pianist Heikki Sarmanto in its already diverse catalogue. They speak to his range and subtlety as a composer and performer, not to mention demonstrating the fruits of continued collaboration.

The newest disc on offer is Moonflower, but Sarmanto uses musicians that have worked with him in various capacities for more than 30 years. The results are gorgeous, each moment full of rhythmic and melodic detail. Just check out the different kinds of swing informing the two versions of "At the Fountain" to hear this quartet interact, blues and balladry mixing in two penetrating studies of triple meter. Drummer Craig Herndon is beautifully subtle and never shies away from gorgeously intimate brush and cymbal work. This album is more straightforward than its counterparts, but don't be fooled by the soft veneer; there are snakily deceptive runs from saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen which complement the sinewy-sweet melody of a track such as "Run". Equally fascinating are the multi-rhythmic experiments of "African Echos," Sarmanto's keyboard work almost Monkish in its sparseness.

Only occasionally does Aaltonen show signs of his growlingly Ayler-esque roots, evident throughout the other two discs. A Boston Date is a previously unreleased outing from late 1970 and it's the most blatantly experimental of those on offer. All group members are obviously firing on all cylinders and the music swings between jazz and some other unnameable but freer trope as Sarmanto finds himself in Keith Jarrett American Quartet territory. The epic "Top of the Prude" is a case in point, swinging in and out of steady tempo and rhythm at key moments. The guitarwork of Lance Gunderson brings a slightly fusion feel to the proceedings.

This also occurs on Counterbalance, the first studio recording by this group, originally released on EMI in 1971. Here, we are treated to very different versions of some of the pieces that would appear on Moonflower, including that album's title track. Sarmanto is on electric piano and Aaltonen's flute work is exquisite as the track follows its meditative path. In stark contrast, "Seagull" exudes raw energy as Sarmanto slams power chords out of his instrument before everything kicks into high gear with a dramatic tempo increase. The recording is slightly distorted at key moments, but is a welcome reissue and one hopes this trilogy of releases will introduce many to Sarmanto's fine contributions.


Tracks and Personnel

Moonflower

Tracks: Moonflower; At The Fountain; Madame Chaloff; Wolf; African Echoes; Jai Guru Dev.

Personnel: Heikki Sarmanto: piano; Juhani Aaltonen: tenor sax; Pekka Sarmanto: bass; Craig Herndon: drums.

A Boston Date

Tracks: MC; Run; Grass Dream; Ibiza; A Different Kind Of Smile; Top Of The Prude.

Personnel: Heikki Sarmanto: piano; Juhani Aaltonen: tenor sax; Lance Gunderson: guitar; George Mraz: bass; Craig Herndon: drums.

Counterbalance

Tracks: Azure Skies; Jai Guru Dev; Wolf; Moonflower; Counterbalance.

Personnel: Heikki Sarmanto: piano; Juhani Aaltonen: tenor sax; Lance Gunderson: guitar; Pekka Sarmanto: bass; Craig Herndon: drums.

Post a comment

Tags

View events near Boston
Jazz Near Boston
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.