Sisu Kristjan Randalu, New Wind Jazz Orchestra

Sisu Kristjan Randalu, New Wind Jazz Orchestra

Kristjan Randalu (p), Wolf Kerschek (arrangement), September 2022, New Wind Jazz Orchestra, Guest: Ingrid Jensen (tp), Ben Monder (g)

Sisu Kristjan Randalu, New Wind Jazz Orchestra

Sisu beginnt mit dem sofort fesselnden „Mouse-Hunt“, bei dem die kanadische Gasttrompeterin Ingrid Jensen ein gekonntes Solo inmitten beeindruckender Sektionsarbeit und frenetisch stampfender Abschnitte bietet. Ein Tempowechsel folgt mit dem Titelstück ‚Sisu‘. Dieses achtminütige Stück, das auf Estnisch „Zufriedenheit“ bedeutet (und auf Finnisch „innere Stärke“), steigert sich in seiner Intensität von komplexen Bläser-Crescendos zu ruhigen Klavierriffs und schlängelnden Wechseln zwischen Saxophon und Klavier.

Sisu Kristjan Randalu
Sisu Kristjan Randalu

Sisu Kristjan Randalu, New Wind Jazz Orchestra

Sisu marks the beginning of a new chapter for esteemed Estonian pianist and composer Kristjan Randalu – as his first large ensemble project recording. It’s also the debut outing for the New Wind Jazz Orchestra conducted by Wolf Kerschek and features special guest trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and guitarist Ben Monder.

Founded in 2018 by Lauri Kadalipp, the New Wind Jazz Orchestra aims to amplify Estonian music internationally through new collaborations. Artistry is at the heart of the orchestra’s mission and so Randalu’s distinguished reputation (he has worked with the likes of David Liebman, Nils-Petter Molvær, and Dhafer Youssef) and smart repertoire were a perfect match for the jazz orchestra. Randalu says: “Now using all these different parts, voices, colors, options and instruments, I think it really enhances the musical material.”

This nine-track record combines brand new, large ensemble arrangements of original compositions by Randalu, as well as reworkings of established pieces from the Estonian canon. There are no traditional “swing big band” sounds here; rather, the album features a myriad tapestry of intriguing, pulse-oriented arrangements. Randalu affirms: “My goal was not to put together a traditional big band program.”

Sisu opens with the immediately captivating ‘Mouse-Hunt’, which features Canadian guest trumpet star Ingrid Jensen – providing a skilful solo in and amongst some impressive sectional work and frenetic stomping sections. A change of pace follows with title track ‘Sisu’. Meaning ‘content’ in Estonian (but also inner strength in Finnish), this eight-minute piece builds and fades in intensity from complex horn crescendos to calm piano riffs and snaking trade-offs between sax and piano.

American guitar giant Ben Monder joins as a special guest on ‘Spielchen und Rechenshaft’. Ominous at times, this track packs a real punch with exquisite harmonic textures and virtuosic solo sections. ‘Song of Freedom’ was originally written for male choir and large wind orchestra but here gets the big band treatment along with the Estonian classic ‘Pippi Longstocking.’ Beginning with an introduction featuring piano and flute, the piece pays respectful homage to the original while adding a contemporary ambiance. ‘Partly Clouded’ is a Randalu composition now revisited to perfectly demonstrate Randalu’s arranging abilities.

Tracks ‘Lünk’ and ‘Valse Hésitante’ were originally written for double concerto format for string orchestra with viola and piano as soloists, but here they are reinvented for the big band format. Album closer ‘Sheep Song’: “is another Estonian composition originally from a soundtrack,” Randalu explains, “that turns out to be very complex in rhythm. But the interesting part is that the composer originally wrote the melodies to lyrics, which turned out to have shapes and uneven sequences, which now gives the basis for the track.”

Sisu was recorded and produced with the utmost care and professionalism: “there’s no compromise with the production,” states Randalu. Mixed and mastered by the multi-Grammy-Award winning engineers Klaus Genuit and Tyler McDiarmid, the virtuosic rigor and passionate commitment have been employed by all the musicians to craft a landmark recording in Estonian contribution to music, as well as what will surely be considered a highlight for large jazz ensemble recordings released internationally in 2022.

Text: Whirlwind Recordings

Sisu Kristjan Randalu, New Wind Jazz Orchestra

Kristjan Randalu – piano, Wolf Kerschek – conductor, Ingrid Jensen – trumpet (1), Ben Monder – guitar (3), Aleksander Paal – alto, soprano saxophones, Allan Kaljaste – alto saxophone, Markus Eermann – tenor saxophone, flute, Tobias Tammearu – tenor, soprano saxophones,

Martin Kuusk – baritone saxophone, clarinet, Ingvar Leerimaa, Artur Kiik, Andrus Karjel – trombone, Johannes Kiik – bass trombone, contrabass trombone, Allan Järve, Jason Hunter, Samuel Jalakas, Vallo Mänd – trumpet, Mihkel Mälgand – double bass, Karl-Juhan Laanesaar – drums

Sisu Kristjan Randalu, New Wind Jazz Orchestra
Sisu Kristjan Randalu, New Wind Jazz Orchestra
Sisu Kristjan Randalu, New Wind Jazz Orchestra : Reviews : verhoovensjazz