3

Iro Haarla Sextet: Kolibri

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Iro Haarla Sextet: Kolibri Finnish pianist Iro Haarla has expanded her customary quintet approach—trumpet, saxophone and rhythm section—with the addition of a third horn, Jari Hongisto's trombone, on Kolibri. The sextet is composed of some of Finland's most dynamic improvisors, and Haarla has given these vibrant artists the space to move the music in their own individual directions within the framework she has laid down.

From the first notes of the opener, "Nightjar," the music—spacious, minimalist in Haarlas' piano part, and initially featuring Kari Heinila's haunting tenor saxophone—creates a dream-like soundscape. Drummer Markku Ounaskari provides complex textures outside of the mode of timekeeping, and the three horns' interplay displays a subtle gorgeousness to round out this achingly beautiful ballad.

"Where "Nightjar" suggests fragility, and perhaps melancholy, "Procession" exudes a power and strength via surging rhythms pushed forward by Ulf Krokfor's powerful bass lines. Trumpeter Verneri Pohjola interweaves his fiery solos with Heinila and Hongisto, the three horns shining brightly with the tonal range of a big band.

The sound of Kolibri, on a blind listen, could easily draw the guess "is this one of those recent ECM Records?" The music unfolds at a patient pace, with a coolness and loose precision coming from six master improvisers. Indeed, Haarla has recorded at ECM, on many of the late Edward Vesala's (1945-1999) discs, as well as two more as a leader: Northbound (2006) and Vespers (2011), both outstanding quintet outings.

The title tune opens with spare piano notes inserted into a vast space, followed by single, well-spaced bass notes, until Heinila's flute blows in like a birdsong. "Kolibri" is Finnish for "hummingbird," and the tune—along with "Nightjar" and "Legend of Cranes"—form a sort of "Bird Suite," inspired by Haarla's fascination with the lives and struggles of birds, the juxtaposition of their delicate appearances with their toughness and ability to survive a harsh world.

The music of Kolibri has a visceral quality, sounding like something that has existed through the ages—delicately beautiful in its abstraction, sometimes nebulous, but always underlain by an earnestness and elemental strength. Extraordinary music.


Track Listing: Nightjar; Procession; Kolibri; Spirit Bear; Sad But True; Legend of Cranes; Vesper.

Personnel: Iro Haarla: piano, chen; Verneri Pohjola: trumpet; Jari Hongisto: trombone; Kari Heinila: tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute; Ulf Krokfors: double bass; Marrkku Ounaskari: drums.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: TUM Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Troy Collins
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Troy Collins
Published: October 22, 2016
Read "Day By Day" CD/LP/Track Review Day By Day
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Enter the Plus Tet" CD/LP/Track Review Enter the Plus Tet
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "No Parking Any Time" CD/LP/Track Review No Parking Any Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 5, 2017
Read "Romance 76" CD/LP/Track Review Romance 76
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!