In the cool, blustery summer weather that is typical of Finland’s Satakunta province, Dave Douglas’ quintet-Douglas on trumpet, tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Rudy Royston, with vocalist Heather Masse-played a well-received set at the 2013 Pori Jazz festival in July. The music alternated between a loose-limbed intensity and measured melancholy-the latter in particular on the church melodies taken from Douglas’ 2012 album Be Still (Greenleaf). One of those happy, unplanned musical connections took place when the group performed the title track, sparking a rousing response from the outdoor crowd.
“I got so many questions from people here in Finland about why I played it,” Douglas, 50, explained after the set. “When my mother was very ill she gave me a list of hymns that she wanted me to play at her memorial service, and one of them was ‘Be Still, My Soul.’ It was one of her favorites, played in Protestant churches with English lyrics and a melody composed by [Finnish composer] Jean Sibelius. I don’t think she knew the melody is also called ‘Finlandia,’ but we began to play it and I quickly learned that it’s the national anthem here, more or less. It was a real honor to play it in Finland.”