Vespers

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Iro Haarla
LABELS: ECM
PERFORMER: Iro Haarla (piano, harp), Mathias Eick (trumpet), Trygve Seim (saxophones), Ulf Krokfors (bass), Jon Christensen (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: ECM 274 3616

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Haarla is probably best-known for her work as an arranger with Edward Vesala, the late Finnish percussionist and band leader whose Sound and Fury Ensemble is highly regarded in many quarters (even earning a rarely-awarded coronet in Cook and Morton’s essential Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD) but whose music never really engaged me. Since Vesala’s death in 1999 Haarla has pursued her own path, and I find her work with a small group far more satisfying. Here, her compositions are well-served by her colleagues, who play with great sensitivity, clarity, elegance of phrasing and beauty of sound. The music is predominantly slow, melodies and harmonies developing like clouds or mists drifting almost imperceptibly from one shape to another. It’s not always gentle, though, and never cheerful, so you need to be in the right mood for it. Barry Witherden