The colours of The Magical Forest glow in this remarkable recording which brings together Sinikka Langeland’s Norwegian-Finnish-Swedish Starflowers quintet with the singers of the Trio Mediӕval. It’s an inspired concept: the Trio Mediӕval, with their affinity for folk music and their unique vocal blend, adapt themselves ideally to Sinikka’s sound-world, which is once archaic, timeless and contemporary. The quintet members, all bandleaders in their own right, are amongst the most characterful players in Scandinavia today, and Sinikka sets them free to improvise around her cycle of songs, built upon myths and legends of the world tree. The Magical Forest was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in February 2015, and produced by Manfred Eicher.
The half-finished heaven is the fourth ECM album from Sinikka Langeland, the kantele player, singer and composer from Finnskogen, south-eastern Norway’s “Forest of the Finns”. The music she has written for the ensemble here touches on, as she says, her “whole scale of expression”. Sinnika’s highly original and self-contained oeuvre is informed, in changing degree, by folk traditions of Norway and Finland, as well as classical and contemporary music and improvisation from jazz and other sources. Each of her gifted bandmates brings his own range of colours to the music.
In the winter of 2012/13, the Haus der Kunst in Munich – one of Europe’s most important museums for contemporary art – hosted the exhibition ECM – A Cultural Archaeology. The goal of curators Okwui Enwezor and Markus Müller was to show the range of the label’s artistic endeavours in music, graphic art, and photography and its creative interchanges with film, theatre and literature. For this exhibition, Manfred Eicher and Steve Lake created this box-set accentuating directions in ECM's rich musical history. Many themes and streams are touched upon here including the range of composition in the New Series, music for and from films, imaginative historical reconstructions, trans-cultural music, ambient minimalism, and jazz and improvisation of many hues, in a collection with a playing time of more than seven hours.
Four years after “Cantando”, a new album from the Bobo Stenson Trio – recorded in Lugano last December – explores a broad arc of material. Here we find: free playing (the trio has its own, fresh approach to collective improvising), tunes by Bill Evans (“Your Story”, offered here as a tribute to Paul Motian, for whom this tune was a favourite) and by George Russell (“Event VI” from “Living Time”, another piece associated with Evans), Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s “Oft Am I Glad”, a Norwegian hymn (in an arrangement by Anders Jormin and folk singer Sinikka Langeland), contemporary composition by Norway’s Ola Gjeilo, a Wolf Biermann protest song, Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez’s folkloric “La Peregrinación”, and more. Wide-ranging repertoire has become a hallmark of Bobo Stenson recordings. But it’s not just the eclecticism that is striking.
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