Iro Haarla

CD18,90 out of stock
Featured Artists Recorded

September 2004, Rainbow Studio, Oslo

Original Release Date


  • 1Avian Kingdom
    (Iro Haarla)
  • 2Barcarole
    (Iro Haarla)
  • 3With Thanksgiving
    (Iro Haarla)
  • 4Time For Recollection
    (Iro Haarla)
  • 5On A Crest Of A Wave
    (Iro Haarla)
  • 6Waterworn Rocks
    (Iro Haarla)
  • 7Veil Of Mist
    (Iro Haarla, Mathias Eick, Trygve Seim, Uffe Krokfors)
  • 8Light In The Sadness
    (Iro Haarla)
  • 9A Singing Water Nymph
    (Iro Haarla, Trygve Seim)
  • 10Yarra, Yarra...
    (Iro Haarla)
  • 11Northbound...
    (Iro Haarla)
Nordische Musik online, CD des Monats
Further, closer listens uncover the unique beauties of Haarla’s music, which sits at that mystical point halfway between improv and composition. “Barcarole” has one of those folky tunes that seems to have been around for years, just waiting for someone to pluck it from the air. Other pieces offer the barest wisps of melody, relying on the group’s ability to generate structure spontaneously. Haarla’s approach to the piano has the weightless, displaced qualities of Paul Bley, while her harp brings a delicate romanticism to the proceedings. … Seim’s blurry, slurred soprano curls are also gorgeously expressive, and a good foil for Eick’s pure toned excursions. … Eick constructs logical, probing solos that hang in the spaces left by the rest of the group. Christensen and Krokfors … never turn up the heat too much, they generate enough momentum to coax the frontline into some gorgeous performances. Let’s hope we get to hear more from them…
Peter Marsh, BBC i
Northbound might appear on the surface to be veering more toward the ambient soundscape but the quality of the playing ensures that this is a thought-provoking and stimulating set that will probably be lurking in my year-end list.
Hugh Gregory, Jazz Review
Composer/pianist/harpist Iro Haarla played a crucial part in the ground-breaking music of her late husband, Edward Vesala. This colours, in part, Northbound, a lovely, melancholy album, though Haarla’s approach to actual performance is, perhaps, more collaborative. she strikes a fine balance between the written and improvised; both inside and outside, the music’s spacious but controlled feel is surely hers. Bringing out the lyrical qualities of these slow, mournful pieces is the passionately engaged work of Trygve Seim and Matthias Eick … Bassist Uffe Krokfors and drummer Jon Christensen also dialogue superbly in a group whose openness, mutual responsiveness and dynamics are remarkable.
Ray Cominsky, Irish Times
Entschleunigte Choräle, dazu Prozessionen irgendwo im Norden, ein aufgerauter Schönklang, destilliert zu Hymnen. Trygve Seim, der neue Große unter den norwegischen Saxophonisten, bleibt ohne Vergleich. Hier gibt er eine tragende Stimme zu den betörend schwelgerischen, niemals banalen Kompositionen der finnischen Pianistin und Harfenistin Iro Haarla.
Ulrich Steinmetzger, Leipziger Volkszeitung
Das Reservoire an skandinavischen Jazz-Musikern ist unerschöpflich. Und so bilden sich immer wieder neue Konstellationen aus über die Grenzen hinaus noch nicht so bekannten Instrumentalisten und alten Haudegen… Das Erstaunliche ist dabei stets, wie man sich auf Anhieb auf einen Atem verständigt, man die Ausdrucksdimensionen gemeinsam verschiebt und gleichzeitig auch bewahrt. So entstehen fast selbstverständlich generierte Erlebniswelten, wie sie die finnische Pianistin, Harfenistin und Komponistin Iro Haarla auf ihrem Album Northbound festgehalten hat. Dank eines exquisit zusammengestellten Ensembles aus Jung und Alt – dessen Motor auf Anhieb rund läuft. Dank der magischen Meisterqualitäten von Jon Christensen am Schlagzeug. Aber auch dank der riesigen, zupackenden Bögen, die die beiden Bläser Trygve Seim und Mahias Eick aufziehen. … Für die Kompositionen von Iro Haarla lassen sich daher kaum gleichwertigere Kommunikationspartner finden. Denn in den Stücken steckt eine Dramatik und Emotionalität, die das Weltläufige wie Heimatverbundene zupackend und packend einfängt.
Guido Fischer, Jazzthetik
Als kongeniale Partnerin sorgte sie für die innere Logik der Stücke ihres Gatten Edward Vesala, Jetzt, sechs Jahre nach seinem frühen Tod, fasziniert Ira Haarla erstmals mit eigenem Material. Flirrend-zarte Piano- und Harfen-Linien verbinden sich mit Trygve Seims Saxophon und Mathias Eicks Trompete zu intim-intensiven Klangbildern. Deren oft ostinate Flächen reißt Altmeister Jon Christensen mit freien Rhythmen dezent, aber effektvoll auf. Melodisch hinreißend, ist diese klug strukturierte Musik von ergreifender Schönheit.
Sven Thielmann, Stereoplay

On her leader debut for ECM, Finnish pianist-harpist-composer Iro Haarla unveils a strong and responsive new band that pools some very significant talents… and some strikingly original compositions written in a harmonic language that will stir powerful associations for followers of music from the North.

Iro Haarla was for many years the inner architect and orchestrator of the music of her husband, drummer and bandleader Edward Vesala (1954-1999). She had just left Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy when she met Vesala in 1978 and put her own career as a composer and concert pianist on hold to help him realize his musical visions. Vesala was very much an intuitive musician, and it was Haarla who gave shape and colour to many of his ideas in her arrangements and editing of material for his Sound & Fury group. Like all his players, she was devoted to the cause. Edward needed an improvising harpist? Iro promptly learned how to play the harp. (And, later koto, analog synthesizers, accordion, whatever was required). Vesala’s influence on her work and her musical values was profound and continues, but she gave much to his work, too – as can be adjudged by listening to the four Sound & Fury ECM albums on which she appears: “Lumi”, “Ode To The Death of Jazz”, “Invisible Storm” and “Nordic Gallery.” If she started out as Edward’s gifted amanuensis and muse, in the end they were creating the music together.

“It so great to play with Iro,” Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim recently told John Kelman of Jazz Views. “She’s composed some really fantastic stuff in her special way of writing that comes out of the collaboration with Edward.” Seim cites Vesala/Harla amongst the decisive influences on his own musical development. After experiencing a wipe-out Sound & Fury concert in Molde in 1992, Trygve sought out the Vesalas in Finland. He subsequently played with Edward and Iro in 1996 in an ad hoc festival group with Danish guitarist Hasse Poulsen, and Vesala was keen for the collaboration to continue. A new quartet including Haarla and Seim was assembled in 1999, but Vesala died suddenly at the end of the year.

Iro Haarla’s new quintet incorporates more improvising than Sound & Fury permitted, and includes another drummer of great dramatic unpredictability: Jon Christensen, veteran of some 60 ECM sessions, always bringing new ideas and sounds and pulses into play. Christensen and Seim first played together in 1992 in the group Oslo 13. The great Norwegian drummer has always been open to playing with young improvisers and he works regularly with trumpeter Mathias Eick in Jacob Young’s group (see “Evening Falls”). A precocious talent, Eick was only 12 when he first jammed with Seim and Young. At 25 he is playing across a range of idioms including free improvising and alternate rock (with Jaga Jazzist or Motorpsycho) as well as jazz, where his vaulting invention is often astonishing.

Bassist Uffe Krokfors, a powerful player, worked alongside Iro on Sound & Fury’s classic “Ode To The Death Of Jazz” in 1989 then moved on to join Raoul Björkenheim’s band Krakatau, appearing on the ECM albums “Volition” and “Matinale”. He has worked extensively with Iro Haarla in the last few years, contexts including a trio with sax player Rasmus Kösström, and a new large ensemble, Loco Motife, which they co-lead.

Trygve Seim plays with great sensitivity in this setting, Haarla’s often anthemic writing establishing an emotional climate in which he can move freely, making soulful use of the bent notes and discreet eastward-leaning phraseology that has become part of his palette. “Light in the Sadness”, one of the pieces is called, which might also describe the tone of the album as a whole.

As for Iro Haarla, she plays with an alert choice of notes on piano, making them all count: as she has always has done, in free-flowing ballads that belong to a tradition she helped to create. The characteristic cascading harp belongs to that tradition as well. In all, “Northbound” is a very strong statement from a player and composer who should be heard more widely. Plans to tour with this quintet will help to ensure that this is the case.