Scandinavian folk combined with elements of jazz has become a repeated feature of ECM releases in recent years, and in truth, this comes from almost identical roots. Trumpeter Arve Henriksen is a regular contributor to that label and this recording of a reworking of the Danish hymn repertoire given a modern update firmly belongs in the ECM Nordic jazz meets folk tradition. Born in Jutland, singer Janne Marke has a pure and sweet sounding voice that is almost certainly inspired by the native folk tradition. Recorded by Lars Nilsson, who worked with Lars Danielsson on the excellent, ‘Libretto’ album of last year, this project has a gentle, reposing quality and one where folk fans will feel very much at home. Mark adds her own lyrics to the traditional music, and is clearly interested in the close artistic relationship that exists between literature and music. A pared down instrumentation includes piano and celeste, bass and drums, plus tap steel, but it is the sound of the trumpet that dominates proceedings here.
Of interest to jazz fans is the highly personalised sound that Henriksen generates on the trumpet and which has rightly been described as flute-like. This is evident on the title track where he takes a solo on the introduction, with the sparse sounding vocals only to accompany. Then, the trumpet takes on another guise, that of a high-pitched alto saxophone, in the style and manner of Jan Garbarek. Other world music influences come to the fore as the album progresses, with, ‘Walk quietly, hushed through the world’, this time on the trumpet betraying a distinctive Indian feel and this is a truly haunting piece, with minimalist piano accompaniment from Henrik Gunde Pedersen. Full marks to ACT for including an outstanding inner sleeve with canvas painting by Neo Rauch that has something of Frida Kahlo quality to it, full lyrics in both English and Danish, and useful notes by the Scottish translator on the complexities of the translation process.
With the current interest in English folk music, a renewed passion for Welsh folk music and the continued devotion to folk in both the Irish and Scottish music traditions, Scandinavian folk sometimes loses out which is a great pity. Watch out for a review in these columns of a stunning re-issue of a Norewgian folk duo in the near future.