Jazz CD Reviews – March 2014

March 31, 2014

Kris Adams Longing (Jazzbird JB 003)

As a glance at the composers and lyricists whose work is presented here instantly conveys, Kris Adams draws her repertoire from a broad palette. There are songs by Joni Mitchell, songs with lyrics by Norma Winstone and Abbey Lincoln, songs from the pens of names as diverse as Mary Lou Williams and Cole Porter. There are also songs with lyrics by Kris herself, to music by Steve Swallow (Wrong Together), Joakim Breicha (When You Smile) and one, Pulled Pork, for which she also wrote the music, and there are also some Latin touches. Kris’s voice is light and tuneful, gently introspective, and admirably suits the contemporary jazz scene.krisadams Most of the arrangements here are by Greg Hopkins, who also plays trumpet and flügelhorn. Among other instrumentalists on this album are pianist Tim Ray, guitarist Eric Hofbauer, saxophonists Shannon LeClaire and Bob Patton and Rick DiMuzio. This album will prove especially attractive to those whose taste leans towards thoughtful and highly musical latterday concepts of jazz song.

Juhani Aaltonen To Future Memories (TUM Records TUM CD 036)

Hearing Juhani Aaltonen play, it is hard to believe that this questing, inventive and always forward-looking musician has been active in Finnish jazz circles since the end of the 1950s. Although he was an in-demand studio musician through the following decades, Juhani also played free jazz and jazz rock, worked with musicians such as Edward Vesala, Arild Andersen, Heikki Sarmanto, Helsinki’s New Music Orchestra, Peter Brötzmann and the UMO Jazz Orchestra, and he also led his own small groups.j-aaltonen

Now, many years later, Juhani is as adventurous as ever before, playing alto and tenor saxophones and flute and bass flute in intriguing explorations of music composed by Antti Hytti. The core group is Juhani’s quartet: pianist Iro Haaria, bassist Ulf Krofors, drummer Reino Laine; extended on this outing by bassist Ville Herraia and percussionist Tatu Rönkkö. The music is drawn mainly from Antti Hytti’s work in the motion picture industry, for which he composed during the 1980s and 90s. The composer’s themes are often pleasingly lyrical, a quality that is especially appropriate for an instrumentalist such as Juhani, who has always maintained lyricism in his playing.


Henrik Otto Donner & TUMO And It Happened . . . (TUM Records TUM CD 039)

Always melodic and intriguing, the music composed by Henrik Otto Donner is especially suited to the music played by TUMO. This is a large studio-assembled orchestra drawn from Finland’s notable and effective improvised music scene. On this occasion, TUMO is joined by alto and tenor saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen and vocalist Johanna Ilvanainen, both of whom provide thoughtful interpretations of the composer’s concepts. TUMO is a 33-piece orchestra, with brass, reeds and rhythm conducted by Mikko Hassinen, and strings conducted by the composer. This album was recorded late in 2012; sadly Henrik Otto Donner died the following year.And It Happened . . . is an eloquent memorial to a fine musician.h o donner

More information about Kris Adams can be found on her site (see above) and the Jazz Promo Services website; and there is also the TUM Records site. As always, Amazon is the place to go for these and other albums.


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