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Iro Haarla Quintet: Vespers

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Iro Haarla is a Finnish pianist, harpist and composer who had a long and diverse career before she released her ECM debut, Northbound, in 2006. In its rapt, forceful quietness, it was one of the memorable jazz albums of that year. The Finnish/Norwegian quintet on Northbound has been reunited for Vespers.

Trumpeter Mathias Eick, tenor/soprano saxophonist Trygve Seim and drummer Jon Christensen are the Norwegians. They suit Haarla’s songs because they are all patient and inquisitive and capable of selfless dedication to ensemble atmosphere. Finnish bassist Ulf Krokfors is a long-term Haarla associate. He provides shifting contexts from which the other four players venture. Eick, one of the most poetic players to enter jazz in the new millennium, has described Haarla’s music as “difficult” and “demanding.” But there is no sense of strain here, as the players float in the free air of Haarla’s open forms and postulate their own ideas and evolve them.

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