Productions of the label ECM from Munich are traditionally something special. One can rely on the fact that mediocrity does not take place. If you buy an ECM album, you can be sure that you will be supplied with the very best both artistically and concerning recording technology. Since you cannot go wrong by buying albums from artists you've never heard of, or albums with music that's outside of your very own music cosmos, it's quite possible that ECM albums have their own view on music extended. There are sometimes aspects of listening to the music that you never even suspected could ever appear on your own screen, like one or other classic album, even though you were sure jazz was the only true music. Customer confidence in ECM is remarkably high. The same is obviously true for ECM artists, which can be seen in the fact that not a few exclusively or at least reliably return to the Munich label to bring new albums to the jazz, the classical and the world music fan. But there has to be more than pure trust of the artists in the good reputation of the label, in the high quality of the recordings and the apparently successful marketing. Presumably one feels as an artist at ECM duly appreciated and in good hands, otherwise it could not come to the high number of albums that many musicians have made over many years under the roof of ECM. In the case of one of ECM's long-standing musicians, the saxophonist Trygve Seim, the eighth own album of 22 albums has just been released, where he cannot be heard as a bandleader but in formations of fellow musicians. The entire creative period of the Norwegian on ECM from the beginning to the present day is documented by those albums.
On the album Helsinki Songs Trygve Seim presents his newly assembled quartet with pianist Kristjan Randalu, bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Markkuu Ounaskari. He himself can be heard on the Helsinki Songs recorded at the Rainbow Studios in Oslo with the soprano and the alto saxophone. As you can hear, he is justly proud of the musicians he has won for his quartet, each of who ideally and congenially supports his idea of a Nordic songbook dedicated to the metropolis of Norway. The mood of the 11 songs is typically elegiac with their autumnal and wintry moods. In terms of mood, Trygve Seim, with his men of common Nordic origin, is in the best company of classical composers of Scandinavian origin, such as Sibelius and Einojuhan Rautavaara, who just died about one year ago. A wide landscape, as is often the case with Sibelius, appears before one’s eyes in "Sol's Song", with which the album is reminiscent of Jan Garbarek's saxophone aesthetics, recorded on numerous ECM albums. The "Helsinki Song" provides another view of the Nordic solitude mirroring vastness of only gently structured Norwegian landscape, which is reflected in the restrained rhythm of the drums, the obstinate bass line and the harmoniously quietly flowing piano line. In "New Beginning" and "Sorrow March" the Trygve Seim Quartet conveys that the unrestrained existence in the vast Nordic landscape manifests itself in the spiritual, with "Katya's Dream" leading into a pastoral colored dream world that touches no less. Markedly worldlier, albeit still on the Nordic path, there is the musically exciting "Randulusian Folk Song" and "Yes Please Both", after the quartet has delivered the "Birthday Song" composed for Mats Eilertsen in a relaxed atmosphere and in contrast thereto "Ciaconna Per Embric" skillfully inspired by the drums.
The Helsinki songs by and with Trygve turn out to be convincing pieces of music with their predominantly Nordic relaxed high-class interaction of the four musicians who each audibly are ingenious masters of their craft.
Trygve Seim, tenor and soprano saxophone
Kristjan Randalu, piano
Mats Eilertsen, double bass
Markku Ounaskari, drums