194

Iro Haarla: Northbound

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Iro Haarla: Northbound During the 1980s and '90s, Iro Haarla was content to keep away from the limelight and act as the generally unacknowledged inner architect of the music of her husband, drummer Edward Vesala, and his Sound & Fury group. Haarla met Vesala shortly after leaving Helsinki's Sibelius Academy in 1978, and until his death in 1999 she channeled her own musical talents into bringing shape and structure to her husband's brilliant but largely intuitive ideas.

Haarla made telling performance contributions to four Sound & Fury ECM albums—Ode To The Death Of Jazz, Invisible Storm, Nordic Gallery, and the band's masterpiece, Lumi—and was by all accounts a vital composing and arranging partner in all her husband's projects.

But if Haarla's ECM debut as a leader has been a long time coming, it's a deep and rewarding one, performed by a wonderfully compatible quintet whose members are rich in history among themselves and with Sound & Fury. Jon Christensen has the tough job of settling into the drum seat but, freewheeling creative giant that he is, he does so with complete assurance.

Trygve Seim first played with Haarla and Vesala in 1996 and was developing a new quartet with the duo in 1999. His vivid, painterly contributions, favouring long, lyrical brushstrokes over rapid-fire pyrotechnics (altogether more Vermeer than Jackson Pollock), are things of beauty and joy and are central to the success of Northbound. Haarla similarly prefers to dig deep and anthemically rather than accelerate to speed, focusing on the piano and using the harp (which she sometimes plays in traditional cascading style and sometimes as though it were a koto) mainly for colour.

The prodigiously talented Mathias Eick, who first played with Seim in 1993 at just twelve years of age, and Uffe Krokfors, a muscular and forceful bassist with a deliciously weird harmonic touch and inventive mastery of arco style, worked on Sound & Fury's Ode To The Death Of Jazz in 1989. Both are heard to savage advantage on "Time For Recollection."

The circle may be broken, but some of the links remain, and this family of musicians starts out from an easy intimacy with Haarla's music. Not surprisingly, a feeling of loss runs through the album, but Haarla is a searching and emotionally mature composer and arranger, and the music is never mawkish, communicating instead a strong sense of life and positivism. "With Thanksgiving" is the apogee of this balance: it seems to be quietly mourning what was, while looking forward to what may be. The arrangements continue Haarla/Vesala's concern with through-composition, while also incorporating a greater degree of improvisation than Sound & Fury allowed.

Lovely, articulate, river-deep music and, it is to be hoped, a harbinger of more Haarla-led projects to come.


Track Listing: Avian Kingdom; Barcarole; With Thanksgiving; Time For Recollection; On A Crest Of A Wave; Waterworn Rocks; Veil Of Mist; Light In The Sadness; A Singing Water Nymph; Yarra, Yarra; Northbound.

Personnel: Iro Haarla: piano, harp; Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophones; Mathias Eick: trumpet; Uffe Krokfors: double-bass; Jon Christensen: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Shoebox View" CD/LP/Track Review Shoebox View
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 4, 2016
Read "Life" CD/LP/Track Review Life
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Masters Of War" CD/LP/Track Review Masters Of War
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 29, 2017
Read "Endemic Ensemble: Tangled" CD/LP/Track Review Endemic Ensemble: Tangled
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Live 1978 at The Old Waldorf" CD/LP/Track Review Live 1978 at The Old Waldorf
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 5, 2016
Read "Iceland" CD/LP/Track Review Iceland
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 21, 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!