Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Linda Fredriksson – Juniper (We Jazz, 2021)

Multi-instrumentalist Linda Fredriksson has been fine tooling the songs on this album over a number of years and the dedication their craft shows. Fredriksson plays saxes and various instruments with Tuomo Prättälä on keyboards, Minna Koivisto on electroincs, Olavi Louhivuori on drums, and Mikael Saastamoinen on bass and Matti Bye on piano. "Neon Light [And The Sky Was Trans]" opens the album with patient tones of pastel saxophone, building longer phrases, along side electronic shimmer. The drums build in much later, sounding hollow and muted, as sharper sounds alter the atmosphere, bringing things into focus, using squeals of saxophone amid the placid backdrop. Grooving bass and drums open "Juniper" followed by dark hued restrained saxophone, and subtle riffing electronic instruments which frame the saxophone which is developing one memorable solo, with an early Sun Ra vibe present on this track. "Nana – Tepalle" has a reflective opening with the saxophone probing the available as the synth bubbles, creating a picture, an auditory landscape. Halfway through the track, the tempo jumps, the beat becomes much faster, drums enter and the saxophone pours on energy to keep pace, creating a majestic full band flight. Soft saxophones with stringed instrument create a simple but alluring sound on "Pinetree Song." The music becomes more complex as sounds are gradually added, electronics, bass and drums. Piano with bass and drums play quietly leading to a thoughtful finish. "Transit In The Softest Forest, Walking, Sad, No More Sad, Leaving" uses saxophone in space near to insistent electronic beats, patiently developing low tones saxophone, clanking percussion breaking up the beat, with Fredriksson moving gracefully moving over uneven ground. "Lempilauluni" presents a guitar interlude with wordless vocals, scatting as swirls of electronics add further texture and acoustic bass supports. The scene shifts when saxophone and drums enter, taking the performance in a different but equally melodic direction. Finally "Clea" melds an electronic pulse to soft late night saxophone, and the music develops in a mysterious manner with synth waves, languid saxophone and subtle percussion. There is a dramatic shift and quick filigrees of ascending saxophone and harp like synth, build to a more grand and encompassing sensation, keeping the dynamic tension palpable. This was a very well played album with an interesting electro-acoustic take on modern jazz. As I was listening, I kept thinking back to early Sun Ra records with Pat Patrick or Charles Davis plumbing the depths on baritone saxophone against a shifting backdrop. This music evokes similar feelings and is equally memorable. Juniper -

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