About the album
The second album from Iro Haarla’s Finnish-Norwegian quintet carries forward the work begun on the composer-pianist-harpist’s “Northbound” album, which helped to focus overdue attention on Haarla’s music in its own right as well as on her role as a shaping force in progressive jazz. “Vespers”, likewise, extends a tradition of music - and a scope of feeling - that Iro helped establish in the Far North in her years as arranger/orchestrator for Edward Vesala’s bands and for his influential ECM recordings, including “Lumi”, “Ode To The Death Of Jazz”, “Invisible Storm” and “Nordic Gallery”. Haarla’s group includes powerful bassist Uffe Krokfors, himself a former member of Vesala’s Sound & Fury ensemble, who has partnered with Iro in most of her musical activities of the last decade. The quintet line-up was assembled in 2004 with help from producer Manfred Eicher, and with saxophonist Trygve Seim an important contributor from the outset. Seim, who played briefly with Edward Vesala at the end of the 1990s, has often remarked upon the influence of Vesala-Haarla on his own writing. Plans to continue work in a quartet with Edward and Iro were cut short by Vesala’s death in 1999, but Seim went on to tour Finland with Haarla.
“Northbound” and “Vespers” feature another very unique drummer, Jon Christensen, one of the innovators. He brings to Iro Haarla’s music his own special sense of dynamics, sensitivity and unpredictability. Like Vesala he understands how to play very persuasively and very individually in the free ballad zone. Indeed, he helped to shape it.