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«Drought» is the debut album of Finnish, Helsinki-based quartet Ainon, founded and led by cellist-composer Aino Juutilainen, and featuring violinist-violist Satu-Maija Aalto, reeds player Suvi Linnovaara and drummer Joonas Leppänen, known as the leader of the jazz quartet Alder Ego. The debut album of this ensemble, «Drought», offers an original blend of modern jazz, contemporary jazz, and classical music, colored with echoes of Finnish spiritual myths. The cover artwork by Finnish visual artist Maija Lassila, based on her original artwork «Wanderings in the Innermost» (2017), stresses this vein.

Aino Juutilainen is the main composer of the ensemble. She colors the music with intense moods and overflowing drama, tailored to the strong personalities of this ensemble. The pieces range from the serene and highly dramatic “Kruununhaka” to the chamber kind of ambient soundscape of «Anaesthesia» and «O», the most jazz-y piece here, the playful but more open to improvisation and experiments title-piece, and the cinematic but melancholic «The Bird Does Not Fly».

There are some playful games in the chamber jazz of «Obscure Dreams» and Ainon can be openly emotional but still mysterious on «Grannies & Seagulls». The most intriguing piece here, «Schön Berg», is the only one composed by drummer Leppänen. It is a clever and conscious homage to the Austrian iconoclast composer Arnold Schönberg, accommodating his revolutionary ideas to a swinging pulse. This promising album is concluded with the most beautiful, melancholic «Time Transformed».

Eyal Hareuveni

Aino Juutilainen (c),  Satu-Maija Aalto (vio, viola), Suvi Linnovaara (s, cl, fl), Joonas Leppänen (dr)

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