Henri Aunin

Currently Listening – Sisu by Kristjan Randalu

Continuing with the jazz genre, one of the best Estonian (and if not the world) jazz pianist came out with a new album in this year’s September, in collaboration with the New Wind Jazz Orchestra. Titled “Sisu” by one of Kristjan Randalu’s earliest compositions, It’s Randalu’s first time recording an album with a large ensemble.

Serious but playful album with occasional joyous notes. This takes Kristjan Randalu’s “Absence” from earnest to fun. New Wind Jazz Orchestra guides Kristjan Randalu’s methodical and technical playing to higher grounds, achieving thoughtful harmonies and sometimes very fun harmonic lines. 

The album begins with a playful piece called Mouse-Hunt, which stars Canadian trumpet player Ingrid Jensen. It takes a turn in the next piece, Sisu, which features more of Randalu’s characteristic playing. Sisu debuts from Kristjan Randalu’s previous album called “Absence”, the album I mentioned before.

Coming to a more mysterious tone, Spielchen und Rechnenschaft features American guitar player Ben Monder. Repetitive bass line builds up to the very end, creating suspense until it subsides. Leaving a gap for Song of Freedom, which starts off mysteriously political and develops into a march, almost something out of House of Cards.

The fifth piece of the album is Partly Clouded, which is quite fast-paced and features a repetitive theme across the whole piece. The ensemble’s troubled harmony surrounds the piano’s running melody.  Energetic and well-executed, creates interesting suspense during the entire piece.

Then we get a much-needed pause and head into a joyful piece called Pippi Longstocking. My personal favourite, due to its fun melody or that it’s an Estonian childhood classic and I loved the story. Or maybe that romantic interlude with the piano and the solo trumpet.

After that, it heads right back into Lünk, a very technical and serious piece. Continuing with melancholic Valse Hésitante and ending with a playful piece, Sheep Song.

Overall I recommend giving it a listen for all jazz listeners. Kristjan Randalu, in my opinion, is one of the best jazz pianists out there and also knows quite well how to work with a bigger ensemble, even if it’s his first album with one. It’s a joy to listen to.

This review article is the second from a new blog series I’m currently trying out titled “Currently listening”, where I shortly review an album I’ve recently discovered and listened to. You can read the first article of the series by clicking here.