I really like the whole album. Saw their gig at the 2022 North Sea Jazz festival last weekend and was touched by the story about searching for and finally recording the right pinetree sound for this song.
Favorite track: Pinetree song.
"Fragile beauty" is one of the terms coined in the liner notes for the solo debut of this Finnish saxophonist and that definitely hits the point. Very beautiful music; jazz might be the basis sources of influence from other genres (i.e. Neil Young, Feist, Sufjan Stevens) are cited, as well.
Favorite track: Transit in the softest forest, walking, sad, no more sad, leaving.
Fredriksson narrates without words and transcribes the songs arranged for guitar, keyboards and vocals to a full band. There is a balance between acoustic instruments and synthesizers, between minimalist and orchestral playing, grandeur and the personal dimension of the compositions.
Linda Fredriksson (they/them) shares their debut solo album "Juniper" on We Jazz Records, 29 Oct 2021. Linda (of Mopo and Superposition) has been working on the compositions heard on the album for several years, composing them mostly on guitar, keys and by singing. Only later have they been arranged for the band heard on the album, including Fredriksson on saxes and various instruments, Tuomo Prättälä (of ilmiliekki Quartet) on rhodes, moog and piano, Minna Koivisto on modular synth, moog and OP, Olavi Louhivuori (of Superposition) on drums, and Mikael Saastamoinen (of OK:KO and Superposition) on bass, plus featuring the Swedish artist Matti Bye on piano.
At heart, "Juniper" is a "singer-songwriter album", performed by an instrumental jazz band. The end result is unique, personal, and as Linda themself puts it "quiet and introspective". The first single from the album is "Neon Light [and the sky was trans]", "a song from the shining streets – the beginning of something new", featuring field recordings of rain falling down behind the window of Linda's Helsinki working space.
It's a fitting introdution to an album full on wonders and carefully crafted secrets ready to be discovered. "Juniper" is a world unto itself, and Fredriksson describes the process as one of isolation and of learning slowly to do new things. After the demo stage, the songs were taken to the full band, but what's on the record often stays true to the minimal nature of the early demos. Linda credits their co-producer Minna Koivisto as a key ally in the process of maintaining the demo sessions' fragile beauty on the actual finished record.
With regards to instrumentation, those who have heard Linda Fredriksson in Mopo and Superposition are likely to be surprised by their credit listing including not only alto and baritone saxophones, plus bass clarinet, but also guitar, Rhythmic8 synths, ambience recordings and drum programming. Linda describes the way of finding new sounds through their beloved old guitar as follows: "It's an old acoustic guitar that has been hit by a car and is literally full of holes, but that makes the sound just perfect for this album and you can hear the instrument on 'Pinetree song' and 'Lempilauluni' (Finnish for 'My Loved Song')."
In fact, Linda began their music-making with guitar and vocals, and the debut of the hole-filled vintage acoustic guitar makes perfect sense here, while also describing the album's immediate sound perhaps better than any other individual instrument used. The influence list for the album name checks the likes of Feist, Neil Young, Susanne Sundfør, Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Eric Dolphy and Fever Ray, yet the number one inspiration for Fredriksson prior to making the album was "Carrie and Lowell", the 2017 album by Sufjan Stevens. Different as the albums are in terms of instrumentation and general scope, it's fascinating to draw parallels between them by listening to the quietness and immediacy of the music. "Nana – Tepalle" also relates to the world of "Carrie and Lowell" in being a dedication to a lost family member, Linda's grandmother (she is featured in the digital single artwork).
Throughout the album, Linda plays their saxophones in a way that is serving music first and foremost. The musician's ego, so often at the forefront in jazz, takes a backseat, and the songs themselves remain. Linda thinks as a composer, utilising their instrument where and how necessary, not presenting "chops". "It's sometimes hard to play simple," they say, "but I tried to follow my instinct about what the songs need. The mood rules here, any solos or improvisations happen around that at all times."
"Juniper" can still be heard as a jazz album, but perhaps one reminding that the word doesn't need to mean any one thing in particular. At its best, jazz music is highly personal and "of the moment", both true on "Juniper". The album has been made in two different studios, three homes, two summer cottages and four working spaces. It was recorded with professional studio equipment but also with an iPhone and on a basic built-in laptop speaker. With that, "Juniper" stands as a remarkable musical diary of a creative musician and composer during the early 2020's.
released October 29, 2021
All songs composed by Linda Fredriksson
Linda Fredriksson alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, guitar, piano, voice, rhythmic8 synth
Tuomo Prättälä rhodes, moog synthesizers, juno 106, prophet 8, piano
Olavi Louhivuori drums
Mikael Saastamoinen double bass & effects
Minna Koivisto modular synthesizer, moog, op-1
Matti Bye piano (on "Nana")
Joonas Saikkonen granulator (on "Pinetree song")
Joonas Saikkonen: band, sax and guitar recordings at Lammaskallion audio and E-studio.
Linda Fredriksson: sax, bassclarinet, guitar, voice, keys and field recordings at various houses, homes, cottages, working spaces and locations during 2019-2021.
Minna Koivisto: modular synth, keys, sax and field recordings at Vallila, autumn 2020
Tuomo Prättälä: keys recording at Sonic Pump, November 2020
Tari Doris: field recording at Töölö, August 2020
Matti Bye: piano recording at Barnängen studio, Stockholm, February 2021
Produced by Linda Fredriksson and Minna Koivisto
Executive producer Matti Nives
Mixed by Joonas Saikkonen
Arranged by Linda Fredriksson, Olavi Louhivuori, Tuomo Prättälä, Mikael Saastamoinen
Mastered by Jarno Alho
Illustration by Sanna Hellikki Turunen
Artist photos by Iiris Heikka
Design and plant scans by Matti Nives
Flower petals collected in Kumpula, Helsinki (only fallen petals used)
Artistic advisers and supporters along the way: Stina Koistinen and Kerkko Koskinen