Album Review

Haarla-Krokfors Loco Motife – “Penguin Beguine ” – [TUM Records Oy]

Max Level   7/16/2006   CD, Jazz

What a great ensemble! Iro Haarla (keyboards) and Ulf Krokfors (bass) co-lead this fresh 10-piece Finnish outfit, bursting with personality and originality. Two bassists, two drummers, three horns, keyboards/synths/harp, electric guitar, and a vocalist on a couple of tracks. What comes across is the sound of really good players having a ball with their friends. Track 1 immediately impresses, with the rhythm section locking onto the groove like pitbulls, abrasive guitar and keyboards percolating in the second line, and the horns blurting and tumbling over one another on top. The CD is full of majestic, elegant themes, but the band can’t seem to resist disrupting them with various types of mischief. The exception is Track 9, a heartfelt vocal number composed by Haarla, expressing strong love for another person, and faith that it will all work out. The singer has a lovely voice, and it’s a nice change of pace, bringing us back home after an album’s worth of unpredictable jazz adventures.

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