Thursday, May 12, 2016

Juhani Aaltonen & Iro Haarla, Kirkastus

Juhani Aaltonen is one of those reedists from up in Northern Europe that we cannot afford to ignore, so important has been his musical development over the years. Iro Haarla is a pianist-harpist-composer from over there that may have an even lesser presence over here in the States, but certainly deserves our attention. Put the two together on a recent album of duets, Kirkastus (TUM CD 045) and you are in for something special.

These are improvisations on and around ten Iro Haarla composition. Hearing the music is like sitting in a room full of mirrors and windows on a bright spring morning, the sun dazzling and transporting you to a transcendent state of being after a long dreary winter. Or at least that is my feeling hearing it.

Juhani sounds beautifully lyrical in an original but strongly post-Tranish way on tenor. He is brightly projecting on flute, warm and mellow on alto and bass flutes. Iro plays piano and harp in ways that very much enhance her compositional lucidity. It is a set to put you in a state of appreciation and hope, a poetic set that you may find yourself turning to often.

It is an extraordinary and heartening album. There is nothing about it that lessens the purity of the artists' intent, yet it sings proudly and fully with strength and power but with tender fragility as well.

I love it!

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