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Linda Fredriksson - Where Poetry and Jazz Meet

By Marc Zisman |

'Juniper' by Linda Fredriksson is a rare musical pearl found in the sea of contemporary jazz. Full of breath and free spirit, it proves itself a worthy Qobuzissime.

The Nordic countries have always offered a fascinating singularity in their approach to jazz. A singularity that is no doubt confirmed by this magnificent album by Linda Fredriksson. With Juniper, the Finnish saxophonist, already active in the Mopo trio and the Superposition quartet, demonstrates the full range of their artistic skills here. Surrounded by Tuomo Prättälä on piano (electric and acoustic), Minna Koivisto on modular synth, Olavi Louhivuori on drums and Mikael Saastamoinen on bass, Fredriksson combines themes composed over a number of years on guitar, piano and vocals (heard on Lempilauluni), which have now been beautifully arranged for this group. Juniper is even, according to Linda themself, a singer-songwriter's album but performed by an instrumental jazz band. However, this album is, above all, a record centred around introspection, a form of soaring meditation that is then speckled with little finds, like the watermark rain heard on Neon Light (and the Sky Was Trans), the weightless opening theme...

This fascination for singer-songwriters like Neil Young or Sufjan Stevens - two influences that Fredriksson notes - gives their playing a real narrative force. This ethereal, essentially acoustic jazz, capable of haunting digressions (Nana - Tepalle), also appropriates a whole electronic instrumentarium that is handled with great delicacy. Fredriksson succeeds in fusing all of this disparate material, which evokes the most rudimentary folklore as well as futuristic sonorities. For this album they borrow elements from the music of Satie, to the atypical jazz of labels such as ECM or Hubro. To bind these ingredients together we have Linda's breath, inherited from a spiritual approach like that of Pharoah Sanders, or the more free-spirited Eric Dolphy. A Qobuzissime album that is invigorating and full of rare musical poetry.


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