Friday, May 23, 2014

Juhani Aaltonen, To Future Memories

I paid less attention to Finnish tenor jazzman Juhani Aaltonen in previous years than I might have. Then two years ago I heard him in a 2-CD duet with Heikki Sarmanto and it woke me up. I posted on it here on April 30, 2012. Now I am back with another.

This one, To Future Memories (TUM 036), finds Juhani fronting a sextet, with his regular quartet of Iro Haarla (piano and harp), Reino Laine (drums) and Ulf Krokfors (bass) plus the addition of a second bassist, Ville Herrala, and percussionist Tatu Ronkko.

This is a moving program of the sextet playing the music of Antti Hytti, who has a somewhat melancholy way yet also shows the spiritual influence of mature Trane and Pharoah Sanders.

The combination of songs and players works splendidly. Juhani thrives articulating the often balladic melodies and working off of them on tenor, flute and alto flute. Pianist Iro Haarla plays a prominent role in a post-Tyner, post-Alice Coltrane zone. The full rhythm section of two bassists and two drummer-percussionists adds much fullness and color.

The music has a consistently free, rubato flow to it that works well with the compositions.

It may be a bit of a sleeper, but a few close listens convinces you that this is music that is very worthwhile. It is not out to scorch you so much as set a mood that is uncompromisingly free yet contemplative.

I once again am impressed. This is an album to live with over a long period of time. It keeps sounding better to me. Kudos!

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