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   Tuomi: Tight-Rope-Walker: Release Information

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Release Date: 15.02.2005
EAN/UPC: 705304565629
TT Catalogue No: 4480

Huge is the boom Scandinavian singers have triggered in the past few years. Rebekka Bakken, Kari Bremnes, Rigmor Gustafsson or Cæcilie Norby – Names like these are currently luring German jazz audiences into music halls and record stores, zealously forming a new definition of contemporary “Euro-Jazz” and effortlessly cutting its umbilical cord from the US schools. Until now the Finnish faction has been conspicuously missing on this new top team of noble Nordic voices. Kristiina Tuomi presents herself as an exciting and original vocalist who puts Finland on the map of modern jazz song-writing – and this with trans-European flair and poetry from Poe to Shakespeare.

A “Tight-Rope-Walker” is what the title of Tuomi´s debut album heralds, and the 27 year-old’s artistic biography already reads very much like a balancing act. As an autodidact, the daughter of a Finnish mother and German father discovered music relatively late, studying at the Free Arts University in Berlin. From opera to jazz all the way over to pop and dance-floor productions, this up-and-coming artist quickly developed her talents. With Stefan Goldmann, she romped in the realms of deep house and electro, and advanced to a favourite on BBC play lists with the Berlin electronic act „Paloma”. She started up her Scandinavian indie-pop band by the name of „Seazoo” with wandering fellow countryman Kalle Kalima, by trade already guitarist for Jimi Tenor or Tomasz Stanko. And just as her clear, expressive, but at the same time sensitive voice can be impressively effective over louder beats, she is equally at home in an acoustic ambient: The trio „So Weiss“ with Braunschweiger saxophonist Susanne Folk and double-bass player Roland Fidezius from Berlin, with its outstanding German-English spoken-word put to music, is evidence of this – and now her new three-piece band as well, with which she recorded her first CD under her own name.

A trans-European diagonal of a very special class joins hands on “Tight-Rope-Walker”: Finland - Germany – Portugal is the “axis of sound” for this session, which took place in Hamburg´s Vagnsson Studios.

As master of the keys, Berlin’s new discovery Carsten Daerr takes charge. After a classical musical education he embarked on an independent path, allowing himself to be influenced by post-bop master Kenny Kirkland, by Hancock or Metheny and at the same time taking a wide terrain of inspiration from the classics - from Schubert and Olivier Messiahs all the way to Morton Feldman. He says that he even mixes nature and city noises into his sounds. His creative team-working began during his jazz piano and composition studies at the University of Arts (among others under Hubert Nuss and Maria Schneider), and today he can boast collaborations with countless greats of the guild, among them Bobby McFerrin or Marc Wyand. Beside his work in jazz, Daerr is also active as a composer for New Music. „Berliner” originality instead of US-fixed tradition-consciousness. Daerr manages to make even the most adventurous changes sound round, „casually original“ raves the Rolling Stone. And the magazine Keyboards certifies Daerr’s playing to have „enormously harmonic and pianistic imagination which creates a new bridge between European art, music and jazz.” „Tight-Rope-Walker“ lives quite significantly from Daerr’s flexible range between abstract chord power and his gift of melodic accompaniment.

The tremendously ever- singing, sometimes springing, and then again earthy fundament is provided by Carlos Bica. The Portuguese, elected Jazz Musician of the Year 1998 in his homeland, has been very well-known in international circles since the debut of his trio Azul (with guitarist Frank Möbius and drummer Jim Black) in the year 1996. In his „Azul“ project he meshed jazz, rock and ethnic sounds with the heritage of his home, but also acquired merits in song-writing through his cooperation with singer Ana Brandão. Bica has played with many of the greats at home and abroad, from Portugal’s vocal icon Maria João and Fado singer Carlos Do Carmo, to stars of jazz like Ray Anderson, Aki Takase or Kenny Wheeler.

Finally the versatility of Kristiina Tuomi’s vocal power: She masters breathy ballad-like tones just as much as a girlish-coquettish mood, and brilliant is her ability to intensify from restrained to powerfully expressive passages. The German-Finn slips into many characters during her highly diversified repertoire. This usually comes from Carsten Daerr’s studio, using purely original compositions as well as falling back on a suspenseful literary spectrum. Solemn, stately tones in Shakespeare put-to-music, a noise miniature that paraphrases a Suzanne Vega song, echoes of Bartók, flanked by two Poe poems that form a tremendous brace around the opus with their pensive character.

Without for even a minute allowing herself to copy her singing Scandinavian sisters, Kristiina Tuomi contributes original facets and multifariously new impulses to that ever-so-popular Nordic-coloured jazz of our day.


Listening Tipps:
* “Romance” (1): The fantastically flowing lead-in ballad pays new tribute to the young Edgar Allen Poe´s cryptic hymns to nature, written in 1829.
* ”Tight-Rope-Walker” (3): Brilliant suspense is inherent in this title song: The piano sparkles in the highest range with the bass playing around it like a voice, until Kristiina Tuomi comes in on this dramatic fundament with her story of the staggering protagonist. Block chords and bass-staccato spiral furiously upwards until the turbulencereturns to calm with the last cascades of the piano.
* “Carlos (Sweet)”(4): Tuomi plays out her breathy gentle timbre in this dancingly simple, light-footed number penned by Bica, who also serves up a lyrical solo here. An unexpectedly noisy interlude livens up the end.
* “ Rid My Pain” (7): A masterpiece of classical poetry adaptation: Shakespeares Sonnet 139, one of those intensive love poems dedicated to his ominous “Dark Lady” strides forth in proud melancholy dignity.

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