Iro Haarla ‘Ante Lucem: For Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Quintet’ (ECM) 3/5

iro-haarlaThis largely symphonic live recording is taken from commissioned pieces for the 2012 October Jazz Festival in Umeå, Sweden, and brings together the piano and harp playing of leader Iro Haarla, in demand saxophonist Trygve Seim and others in tandem with the NorrlandsOperans Symfonieorkester, conducted by Jukka Lisakkila. Fans of classical music will enjoy the music here as
much as fans of chamber jazz and the four lengthy pieces vary between fifteen and almost twenty minutes. In general the musical tone is mournful and this is attributable to the recent passing of Haarla’s mother who was an opera singer. Different seasons are evoked in the numbers and these include, ‘Perseverence with winter’, which evokes the time of hibernation. The bowed double bass of Ulf Krokfors comes to the fore here with piercing strings and crashing cymbals. On ‘Songbird chapel’, the Debussy-esque tones impress with harp in the background. Introspection is to the fore on this most recent ECM release and once again it cuts across musical boundaries which pretty much typifies the whole ECM ethos.

Tim Stenhouse