Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

293

Sinnika Langeland: Starflowers

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
If jazz is an art of synthesis (rather than fusion) whereby disparate musical forms and styles are brought together in the spirit of exploration and experimentation to create something new, then Starflowers is just about the perfect album.

Vocalist Sinikka Langeland, of Norwegian and Finnish background, has merged her investigations of the folk music of her homeland with the poetry of Hans Børli, the kantele or Finnish table harp and the jazz aesthetic of ECM and three of its stellar musicians (trumpeter Arve Henriksen, saxophonist Trygve Seim and bassist Anders Jormin) to produce a work of myth and mystery.

As with Anat Fort and her first release A Long Story (ECM, 2007) the recognition that an ECM debut brings did not happen overnight. She has worked with Jormin for more than a dozen years, recorded with Henriksen previously and plays regularly with Markku Ounaskari, the percussionist on this release.

Langeland, in constantly expanding the sources of her interests and their musical expression, shows that jazz is truly a world music. Nevertheless, Starflowers is most definitely music of the north, as anyone who responds to Jean Sibelius' Lemminkäinen Suite will understand.

The music is stark, but paradoxically rich, starting with Langeland's unique voice and presentation. The kantele adds a floating, thin but sustained sound that entwines itself around everything else. From the first notes of "Hastnatt på Fjellskogen"," with their clashing, naturally "out of tune" upper harmonics, we have entered a different world—one that is old, hidden and beautiful in its austerity.

The supporting band is magnificent and brings the feel of improvisation to what was originally folk music in its rhythmic base. Langeland was first seduced by Jan Garbarek's sound, which epitomized for her wide spaces and timelessness, twenty-five years ago. Seim, while not copying that unique sound, adds, through his timbre, intonation and phrasing, a sense of deepness, longing and awe.

Henriksen, who has appeared on a number of recent ECM releases, once again displays his unique timbre that is shocking when connected to the word "trumpet." Flute-like and other-worldly, his sound adds much to the mystery that the music evokes, and he uses it wisely when playing with Seim.

Jormin provides the combination of precision and exciting rhythmic drive that he is known for, while playing exactly-pitched harmonic solos that add one more eerie thread to the Nordic tapestry. The rhythmic foundation of the music is expertly provided by Ounaskari, who brings a propulsive sparseness to his playing that meshes perfectly with the rest of the band.

Most of the compositions are settings of the nature poems of Børli and having the words nearby does enhance the listening experience, but the music stands on its own, as the purely instrumental, swinging and grand "Vindtreet" demonstrates.

Langeland's Starflowers is a magnificent work of art that is almost humbling to listen to.

Track Listing: H

Personnel: Sinikka Langeland: vocal, kantele; Arve Henriksen: trumpet; Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophones; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Markku Ounaskari: percussion.

Title: Starflowers | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Live 1972" CD/LP/Track Review Live 1972
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "With You In Mind" CD/LP/Track Review With You In Mind
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: August 12, 2017
Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" CD/LP/Track Review EE-YA-GI (Stories)
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 13, 2017
Read "OR" CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Bad Hombre" CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 14, 2017