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Written in fRoots issue 281, 2006


OArt OArtCD 4 (2006)

Nordik Tree

Nordik Tree NDTCD 006 (2006)

The latest in a long line of albums by fiddle band JPP from Finland’s western region of Ostrobothnia is devoted to the compositions of fiddler Arto Järvelä who, alongside his uncle Mauno Järvelä and harmonium player Timo Alakotila, writes much of the band’s material. He has a characteristic style, a surging driven bow interspersed with, leaping syncopation, busy skittering phrases and an oft-repeated four-note turn over chords that shift in directions that seem eccentrically odd and unexpected until one becomes accustomed to this intricate JPP music that springs from the much more regular Kaustinen tradition.
      Artology, featuring the standard JPP line-up of four fiddles, harmonium and double bass (the latter played these days by Frigg’s Antti Järvelä), comprises ten pieces including a tango dedicated to Julio de Caro and other tunes tipping the hat to the influence of Swedish fiddler Sven Ahlbäck and Americans Pete Sutherland and Stuff Smith, the latter from a live recording at Kaustinen festival.

      It was meeting two fiddles and harmonium band Forsmark Tre from Västergotland in south-west Sweden at Kaustinen festival in 1984 that set Arto and Timo of JPP on a course of adding chordal harmonies and arrangements to Kaustinen fiddling. One of Forsmark Tre’s two fiddlers was Hans Kennemark. In Nordik Tree Arto Järvelä and Timo Alakotila form a trio with Kennemark, again two fiddles and harmonium, with occasional swaps to viola or octave mandolin. The material on Nordik Tree is a mix of traditional tunes from Västergotland and Ostrobothnia with compositions by Järvelä and a couple by Kennemark including a fine bridal-style waltz, All Den Kärlek.
      More intimate in feel than JPP, and somewhat more Swedish (but Västergotlandic, not Dalarna’s lurching polskas), while still with some of those ingenious JPP-style harmonisations and changes, the trio makes a full, elegant sound, as expertly played as one would expect from these three.

© 2006 Andrew Cronshaw

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