Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - Raul d'Gama Rose
The splendid music on Conversations is as close to the celebration of Impressionism in modern music as possible. It is true that saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen and pianist Heikki Sarmanto create epic narratives here, and also true that both act as characters in those narratives. Of greater significance, however, is the extraordinary emotion of these musical stories, facilitated by sublime technique and use of dynamics by both musicians. Aaltonen crowns his playing with broad glissandi in longlegato passages marked by staggeringly brilliant and complicated cadenzas. He employs soft dissonances uttered or sung with towering, filigreed figures that show a reverent respect for Pharoah Sanders. While Sander's is rococo in his work, Aaltonen is more direct. With simple angularity, he provokes extraordinary responses from the pianist.
Sarmanto is always ready for what Aaltonen throws at him. Sliding single notes and beautifully colored chords punctuate Sarmanto's filigreed runs on the keyboard, showing how broad a musical palette he is capable of using. His colors are always moving and the hues always changing. The brilliant arpeggios are interrupted by fingers stabbing at the keys, accentuating a particular characteristic of the music. Listening to him solo is like watching a wholly new canvas come to life and remain alive with eternally changing, always-wet colors that trickle and drip down the canvas. As the colors run, new relationships are formed with those dappled on by the tenor saxophonist. Both musicians trade licks with entwined lines, like the proverbial geometry of a DNA molecule. ... read more...
Personnel: Juhani Aaltonen (tenor saxophone); Heikki Sarmanto (piano).
Audio Mixer: Lars Nilsson.
Liner Note Authors: Petri Haussila; Heikki Sarmanto.
Recording information: Nilento Studio, Gothenburg, Sweden (01/16/2010/01/17/2010).
Photographers: Erik Uddström; Jukka Mykkänen; Jori Grönroos; Matti Pietinen.
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