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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Iro Haarla Sextet: Kolibri

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Iro Haarla Sextet: Kolibri

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Finnish Pianist-composer Iro Haarla's compositions for her sextet emphasize her aim to reach a different, larger sound than the sound of her Finnish-Norwegian quintet (Northbound and Vespers, both on ECM, 2006 and 2011). This sextet is comprised of top Finnish musicians who collaborated closely with her in the past and began to work as the sextet in 2009. Its three-horn front line sound, as captured on Kolibri (the Finnish word for hummingbird), enables Haarla to use complex arrangements, rhythmic diversity ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Iro Haarla Sextet: Kolibri

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Iro Haarla Quintet: Vespers

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It's been six years since Iro Haarla released Northbound (ECM)--while not her actual debut as a leader, certainly her first with international exposure--an album of remarkable beauty that cemented the Finnish pianist/harpist/composer's position as the silent voice behind the music of her late husband, drummer Edward Vesala. There's no denying the import of Vesala's work for ECM, beginning with 1976's Nan Madol--truly a momentous album that spoke, in cinematic terms, of the landscape and culture of Finland--but, equally, a fundamental ...

LIVE REVIEWS

The Iro Haarla Quintet at Scandinavia House

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The Iro Haarla Quintet at Scandinavia House, NYCScandinavia HouseNew York City, New YorkJune 16, 2008 There were not one but two reasons to be excited about attending this concert at Scandinavia House on this night. Pianist/harpist/composer Iro Haarla had never before played in New York City, so this was a first for her as well as her admirers. The second was that the music played was entirely from her debut album on ECM, Northbound ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Iro Haarla: Northbound

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Beauty can mean many different things, but in my view of music, the concept centers around euphony, construction and the listener's emotional response. Consonant intervals, melodic lines that have internal logic, chord progressions that create and release tension, and timbres that blend together all work toward the beautiful. Add to this the mental imagery that some music can engender and you have the possibility of a totally engulfing experience. Northbound can easily be placed among the most ...


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