Helsinki Songs

Helsinki Songs

Drawing on jazz, classical, and folk influences, Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim captures a consistently pure and melodic sound on his many ECM titles as a leader or sideman. Helsinki Songs, a program of originals written mainly in the Finnish capital, finds him in characteristically strong form with a talented quartet. Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen and Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari lay a solid but unobtrusive foundation, while Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu provides the most gripping technical sparkle of the set. “Randalusian Folk Song,” with its waltzing gait and intricate melodies, highlights the pianist’s gifts. Seim is robust on tenor sax (“Birthday Song,” “Ciaccona per Embrik”); his soprano playing can hint at microtonality and an Eastern tinge (“New Beginning,” “Sorrow March”). From the tender, pop-like optimism of the opening “Sol’s Song” to the fragmented, free-form dialogue of the closing “Yes Please Both,” there is a world of rich contrast here.

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