This is Music with a capital M! They say that music is at it’s purest when it is improvised and that is very much true. Especially in a situation like this where two master improvisers like these play together. This kind of vigorous creativity is extremely seldom heard. Numerous fine details, sophisticated and versatile variations in moods, feelings and several tempo changes plus their mutual communication make the album so very unique and gorgeous.
The general feeling is rather easy going and peaceful no matter what the pulse or general mood is. As a matter of fact, they and many other elements can change within one piece. The intensity is all the time present, peaceful music can be of high intensity as much as faster tempos.
The album has its rough moments, too. A couple of times the intensity gets so hot and fiery that Aaltonen changes from flute to human voice. («Into Light» and «Eyes of the Wise»).
Known as a guitarist with a loud sound and strong intensity (for example in his own groups the former Krakatau, the present eCstAsY and the Norwegian-Finnish Scorch) he now controls himself and plays calmly. The intensity is here but at the same time his guitar sings.
For years and years they have had this dream of playing some beautiful day as a duo. That dream arouse with many recording and other sessions with Edward Vesala, after all they both come from ‘Vesala university’. And that has given them both a lot of philosophical aspects to their music making. Many things from Vesala, with their personal views, of course, can be heard in their music. For example, their profound love for the Finnish nature is clearly heard when Aaltonen’s flute sounds like birds singing in the trees.
If one closes his or her eyes, the feeling would be like sitting in a live concert. The CD sound and balance are absolutely top quality. Even better than on stage at Tampere Jazz Happening gig where Awakening was recorded.
Both Aaltonen and Björkenheim have in many cases proved that they are some world class musicians. Here is, once again, a very good example of that. Awakening is absolutely the best Finnish jazz release of the year 2018. One of the best in the whole Europe, too, I dare to say. A
stunning, unbelievable educational listening experience.
Juhani Aaltonen (s, fl), Raoul Björkenheim (g)
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