Henrik Otto Donner & TUMO – And It Happened… (2013)

Henrik Otto Donner & TUMO - And It Happened... (2013)
Artist: Henrik Otto Donner & TUMO
Album: And It Happened…
Genre: Contemporary Jazz, Free Jazz, Big Band
Label: TUM Records
Year Of Release: 2013
Quality: FLAC (tracks+.cue)

01. Junnuda (5:00)
02. Close Your Eyes (3:30)
03. Entreaty (2:47)
04. The First Summer (2:59)
05. Have Me, Hold Me (11:16)
06. These Are the Days (4:09)
07. And It Happened… (15:55)
08. For Friends and Relatives (4:48)

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Composer and conductor Henrik Otto Donner who passed away very shortly after cutting this session, was a scion of the modern music scene in Finland. His trademark approach was a synthesis of classical sensibilities and the fluidity of the bebop tradition, peppered with folk hints. His final record, And It Happened brings together eight of his originals that span five decades. The improvisational collective TUMO, augmented by two guest soloists, a doyen of woodwind players Juhani Aaltonen and lyrical vocalist Johanna Iivanainen, superbly interprets these vignettes from Donner’s career with a dynamic vibrancy and sophisticated brilliance.

The title track, composed in 2007, crystalizes the essence of Donner’s vision and style. The dramatic piece starts with Aaltonen’s open, circular phrases over angular piano, bass and drums interplay. The cooperative ad-libbing evolves along intricate and provocative patterns, flirting with but never giving in to atonality. The big band’s darkly hued symphonic refrains support Aaltonen’s stimulation saxophone. Aaltonen’s haunting unaccompanied tenor blossoms into a free flowing, stream of consciousness, replete with growls. The tune closes with the larger ensemble’s undulating sounds and a languid, intimate atmosphere.

TUMO itself includes many a proficient soloist as the exhilarating “For Friends and Relatives” (from 1963) demonstrates. The theatrical yet mercurial piece brims with thrilling spontaneity as trumpeters Jorma Kalevi Louhivuori and Tero Saarti take turns in the spotlight blowing complex, imaginative lines over the orchestra’s cinematic harmonies.

Elsewhere, trombonist Karpesi Sarikoski concludes Emily Dickinson’s “These Are The Days,” with a pensive, sophisticated growling solo. The enchanting song features Iivanainen’s charming, lithe voice as she articulates the lyrics with a pastoral delight. Aaltonen’s resonant alto flute floats over TUMO’s shimmering tones.

Iivanainen’s emotive singing takes center stage on three, contemporary, Finnish poems. “Entreaty” for instance is a dramatic modern aria with folkish hints. Trumpeter Martti Vesala’s languid horn contrast with the band’s beseeching roar.

Late painter Leena Luostarinen’s splendid “Lootuskuka (Lotus Flower),” aptly graces the front of this superb disc, that makes evident Donner’s work’s undeniable universal appeal. It hopefully will, albeit posthumously, bring him the international recognition he so deserves.

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