For a concert to mark her 60th birthday last year, the Norwegian singer and kantele player Sinikka Langeland convened a band made up of starry ECM label mates, notably Trygve Seim on saxophone and Mathias Eick on trumpet. This configuration has led to her 12th solo album, ‘Wind and Sun’, its lyrics drawn from the poems of Langeland’s contemporary Jon Fosse. Originally known as a playwright, he has concentrated more on novels since converting to Catholicism, but his terse, elliptical poetry has been a constant, wrestling with the eternal even before that conversion. Fosse is from the rural west of Norway and Langeland from Finnskogen, the ‘forest of the Finns’ on the eastern border with Sweden, but they share common concerns: folk culture, the force of grace and the power of absences. […]The sweet unfolding folk melody of ‘When the Heart is a Moon’ segues from that lunar image into angels bearing messages from the dead. ‘The Love’, which brings together Fosse’s ‘Den Kjærleik’ and ‘Kvarandre’, expressions of tenderness a decade apart, has an inviting swing. ‘Wind Song’ begins with a Jew’s-harp ostinato from Langeland as the rhythmic bed for playful games from Eilertsen and Thomas Strønen on drums.
David Honigmann, Financial Times
On this album, Langeland is joined by a quartet of Norwegian jazz notables, all from the ECM stable, each one a bandleader in his own right. Trygve Seim (saxophone) has been a regular collaborator for years and Mathias Eick (trumpet), Mats Eilertsen (bass), and Thomas Strønen (drums) are all sympathetic players whose sensibilities are in perfect alignment with Langeland’s own. The other major contributor here is writer and poet Jon Fosse, whose serene verse makes up ‘Wind and Sun’’s lyrical content. The 12 songs included here are at turns pensive, playful, and affectionate with plenty of space to move around. Against the raindrop plucks of the kantele, the musicians hold languid conversations, whipping up small storms and settling back into glacial grooves
Timothy Monger, All Music
Langeland wird unterstützt von einem Quartett der Kammerjazzmeister, dem Trompeter Mathias Eick, dem Saxofonisten Trygve Seim, dem Bassisten Mats Eilertsen und dem Schlagzeuger Thomas Strønen, die die Tendenz zur großräumigen Klangtransparenz mit Folkwurzeln noch unterstreichen. Und so ist ’Wind And Sun’ ein Fest poetischer Melancholie.
Ralf Dombrowski, Audio /Stereoplay
Magical. That’s the first word that came to mind as I listened to Sinikka Langeland’s ‘Wind And Sun.’ […] on ‘Wind And Sun’ she turns turns to the contemporary Norwegian playwright and poet Jon Fosse, whose poetry resonates with Langeland’s fascination with natural mysticism. Although Langeland leans into mysticism, it isn’t a wispy sort of mysticism. Her vocal instrument is a powerful one, capable of holding its own with Seim and Eick on their brassy horns. On ‘Wind and Sun Langeland’ has created arrangements that illuminate Fosse’s poems through her stunning, often minimalist vocals and kantele, and her sensitive ensemble fleshes out those arrangements in amazing accord with her and one another. I first noted the way the arrangements match the topic in the third track ‘It Walks And Walks,’ a superb arrangement founded on a walking bass line from Eilertsen, over which Langeland’s vocals and the horns play with a melody that sometimes plods with the bass and sometimes stretches the meter. Color and texture come from Strønen’s sensitive drumming, and Langeland’s lightly plucked kantele that somehow sounds like a chiming steel guitar. Pensive, reverent and life-observant, the song rides a line between art song, folksong, and jazz improvization. It all beautifully matches the text, which addresses the linear and yet somehow cyclical nature of life […] ‘Wind and Sun’ is a deep listening experience.
Gary Whitehouse, Green Man Reviews
After the solo album ‘Wolf Rune’ for voice and kantele, Sinikka Langeland has again returned to a quintet setting to present her now unique and uniquely beautiful music. With her recordings over the last decade or so, Langeland has drawn inspiration from culture of Finnskogen, an area on Norway’s border with Sweden known as the ‘Forest of the Finns’ and with her latest album searches for new avenues of expression in the contemporary poetry of Jon Fosse. Langeland’s marriage of her compositions and the words of Fosse is brought to life by a quite exceptional band. Saxophonist Trygve Seim is no stranger to exploring more traditional music and poetry, and his full sounding soprano saxophone plays an important part as a storyteller alongside Langeland’s voice. Seim is also partnered by trumpeter Mathia Eick who is a perfect foil for the saxophonist. With his lean and lyrical phrasing, and clean and clear tone the two voices of trumpet and tenor blend superbly supporting Sinikka’s vocal on ‘It Walks And Walks’. Eick is also particularly fine on ‘When The Heart Is A Moon’, a lovely ballad that opens with Sinikka’s kantele and vocals before being joined by Eilertsen’s strong and warm bass line. […] The charm in Sinikka’s music has been the way the traditional and the modern sit side by side. In somehow capturing the essence of both, the kantele player and vocalist’s music has a timelessness that is emotionally engaging and often leaves the listener with a feeling of inner calm. This is a trait that she has continued with her new compositions and the development of her arrangements for jazz quintet and done so without sacrificing the links she has forged with the traditional music of the region. The music on ‘Wind And Sun’ therefore sounds as fresh and intoxicating as ever, while looking ahead for new ways to bring the ancient and traditional together with the new.
Nick Lea, Jazz Views
For this new recording, Langeland chooses to once more broaden her horizons of sound, with an all-Norwegian all-star constellation of players, all of them ECM recording artists and ensemble leaders in their own right and with complex interwoven histories going back many years. […] And so to summarise, these expert players know one another well, sharing an advanced improvisational understanding, individually and collectively elevating the atmospheres of the songs presented on this album. […] Whilst the setting of poems by Hans Børli, Edith Södergran, Olav Håkonson Hauge and Finnish Forest rune songs have formed the core of Langeland’s repertoire to date, ‘Wind and Sun’ sees her turn her attention to the contemporary poetry of Jon Fosse, who has described the process of writing as ‘an act of listening,’ and wrestles with questions of faith in his work in a way that resonates with Langeland’s fascination with natural mysticism. […] This connection between all involved in the making of this album is clear to hear. There appears to be a very distinct understanding that enables the musicians to express themselves whilst remaining within the soft, unspoken boundaries of the nature of the poetry and music itself. ‘Wind and Sun’ in its entirety feels this way, with moments of glistening beauty mixing intrinsically with a foreboding melancholy. Langeland’s voice carries passion and truth, crossing oceans as it takes flight. Softly spoken, or strong and terse, it is always crystalline in delivery. The supporting cast give the listener a sense of time and place, adding to the atmospheric nature of the songs with sensitivity and imagination. The delicate hues of colour and subtle textural interplay between the musicians is a delight, helping create a beautiful landscape of sound. And this is the landscape of Sinikka Langeland’s music, one where the listener can visualise for themselves the places and people that inspire her music.
Mike Gates, UK Vibe