After half a dozen albums under her name and consisting of her compositions, pianist and composer Iro Haarla presents Around Again. A poignant paying of dues, this eloquent and strong album is made up solely of pianist and composer Carla Bley’s works. Joining Haarla on this soaring flight are bassist Ulf Krokfors and drummer Barry Altschul, seasoned veterans of the European free jazz scene.
Carla Bley’s music has had a profound impact on Iro Haarla’s music – and life in general. No wonder, as the parallels are obvious and it is easy to see why the latter might identify with the former. Like Alice Coltrane, both musicians first garnered recognition through performing and recording alongside their husbands, Paul Bley and Edward Vesala. However, they both later rose to even greater acclaim on their own merits. No mean feat in the male-dominated jazz circles.
At the very outset, attention is drawn to how agile Krokfors is in reacting to Altschul’s subtle drumming. One might even think that they both played these pieces already in the late 1960s, but of course Krokfors was not even born when Altschul began recording Carla Bley’s music in Paul Bley’s band.
Nevertheless, the shining star of Around Again is undisputedly Iro Haarla. It is her inimitable, spectral touch that carries the music at least as far as it originally travelled in the hands of Carla Bley. Harking back to her formative influences like Bill Evans, Haarla laces the music with timeless wisdom and Nordic soul.
IRO HAARLA, ULF KROKFORS & BARRY ALTSCHUL: Around Again - the Music of Carla Bley
Iro Haarla, piano
Ulf Krokfors, double bass
Barry Altschul, drums
TUM Records 2018