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2009-06-02 by Peter Margasak - 31.03.09

A whole lotta Haaker Flaten going on

Chicago Reader

The Haaker Flaten recording I've enjoyed the most over the past year--discounting the latest set from the quintet Atomic--is Elise (Hemlandssånger Compunctio), a duo recording with saxophonist Håkon Kornstad. The Elise of the title was the bassist's grandmother, whose interpretations of folk hymns from the early-19th-century Haugian Revival were recorded by Norwegian National Radio in the 70s. The lyrics came from church hymnals as well books like Vægteren, a volume published in Minneapolis by a Norwegian Haugian community, but the melodies are rooted from oral folk traditions. The album opens with a brief a cappella recording by Elise Haaker, the only song with any vocals at all; six of the eight remaining tracks are instrumental adaptations of these hymns, in which the duo tease out the gorgeous melodies and reshape them gently to fit jazz language. There's also one free improvisation and a lovely reading of Keith Jarrett's "Death and the Flower." The depth of feeling and degree of sensitivity here reminds me of Ornette Coleman's beautiful duo recordings with bassist Charlie Haden, even though the music sounds totally different.




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