All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

3

Iro Haarla Sextet: Kolibri

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
On Kolibri, Finnish pianist Iro Haarla brings together four mainstays of the country's improvised music scene, along with rising trumpet star Verneri Pohjola, in an outfit which sits mid way between a small group and a big band in terms of its capabilities. It's an accomplished unit. All six were part of the TUMO agglomeration which partnered trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith on Occupy The World (TUM Records, 2013), while four of the older generation were part of celebrated drummer Edward Vesala's Sound and Fury band in the 1980s. Haarla herself also co-wrote or arranged for the drummer's larger projects up until his death in 1999.

With that pedigree it should be no surprise that over the course of seven original compositions, the pianist realizes a near orchestral conception in which the solos are less important than the overall feel. At the heart of the artfully organic arrangements lie the off kilter, sometimes even enigmatic, interactions between Haarla's piano, Ulf Krokfors' bass and Markku Ounaskari's drums. The leader sets the mood through careful placement of accents rather than pyrotechnics, a trait she shares with Pohjola who similarly eschews grandstanding for explorations of timbre and smeary distortion.

In the liners, Haarla expresses a desire to showcase rhythmic and tonal diversity alongside the ballads with which she has been most associated. She succeeds in that, but such is the luminous beauty of the slower numbers that her reputation will if anything be strengthened. Case in point is the opening "Nightjar," a gorgeously atmospheric piece evoking images of sun climbing through early morning mist, with an aching motif stated first by Kari Heinilä on tenor saxophone, then echoed on trumpet. Another highlight follows on the suite-like "Procession" where an emotionally charged piano/bass duet and portentous fanfares bookend a series of bristling horn pontifications.

"Spirit Bear," introduced by Haarla on chen (a Taiwanese relative of the Japanese koto), drifts edgily, full of eddies and undercurrents. Only "Legend of Cranes," where a boppish theme erupts out of a nervy improv, is in anyway a flag waver. "Vesper" closes the album as it began, in a swelling lyricism of gauzy reeds and brass, embellished with shimmering cymbal and airily melodic bass. But whatever the tempo, Haarla thrives in triumphant fashion, well-matched by TUM Records' immaculate production standards for both packaging and audio quality.

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.

Title: Kolibri | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: TUM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Ante Lucem for Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Quintet

Ante Lucem for...

ECM Records
2017

buy
Ante Lucem for Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Quintet

Ante Lucem for...

ECM Records
2016

buy
Kolibri

Kolibri

TUM Records
2014

buy
Kolibri

Kolibri

TUM Records
2013

buy
Vespers

Vespers

ECM Records
2011

buy
Northbound

Northbound

ECM Records
2006

buy

Related Articles

Read First Impressions CD/LP/Track Review
First Impressions
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 25, 2018
Read Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two CD/LP/Track Review
Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two
by Chris May
Published: February 25, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review
In Stride
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 25, 2018
Read Osmosis CD/LP/Track Review
Osmosis
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 25, 2018
Read Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest CD/LP/Track Review
Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 25, 2018
Read You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To CD/LP/Track Review
You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 24, 2018
Read "Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath II" CD/LP/Track Review Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath II
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Mississippi Slide!" CD/LP/Track Review Mississippi Slide!
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Trip" CD/LP/Track Review Trip
by James Nadal
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Takunde" CD/LP/Track Review Takunde
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 8, 2017
Read "Solo" CD/LP/Track Review Solo
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 11, 2018
Read "Overseas V" CD/LP/Track Review Overseas V
by Troy Collins
Published: March 30, 2017