Juhani Aaltonen and Heikki Sarmanto: Conversations

This two disc set features the tenor saxophone of Finnish musician Juhani Aaltonen and piano of likewise Heikki Sarmanto. Most of the tunes are originals, save for standards “You and the Night and the Music” and “Alone Together.” Aalonen’s got a full and raspy sound on the horn, not dissimilar to guys like Gene Ammons or Al Sears, while Sarmanto’s piano has a crystalline ring. The problem with these 16 tunes is that, while the music is intriguing up to a point, almost all of the songs are agonizing treatises. Songs like “Evening Prayer” and “What We Cannot Imagine” have the saxist yearn, agonize and wheeze through his horn, while Sarmanto’s methodical yet plodding piano trudges through like a Slavonic March. Asltonen’s tenor on “You and The Night…” gasps for air in a way that makes the melody almost unrecognizable, while “Alone Together” pleads like someone in solitary confinement. Heart on sleeves emotions, but a bit much for 2 hours. Whew!

TUM Records Oy

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