Trees of Light
Lena Willemark voice, fiddle and viola
Anders Jormin double bass
Karin Nakagawa 25-string koto
Out this week on ECM Records, Trees of Light brings together traditional music-making from Sweden and Japan with jazz bass improvisations. This seemingly unlikely fusion works beautifully. Each member of the trio retains their own stylistic signatures and technical approach, yet the resulting colloquy finds many musical meeting places.
On “Lyöstraini,” a propulsive bass groove, diaphanous glissandos from the koto, and Willemark’s gently undulating singing craft a beguiling ambience. Partway through, roles reverse, Jormin takes a forceful solo, leaving the rhythm to be handled by koto and pizzicato fiddle. When Willemark’s singing returns, it is energized, full throated, and ebullient. “Dröm” begins with Willemark singing solo. Only gradually does the instrumental tapestry which surrounds her emerge. Eminently and memorably tuneful, Willemark’s vocals are abetted by shimmering strummed chords and a lithe solo by Nakagawa. Jormin combines walked lines with deftly employed plucked harmonics. “Urbanus” shows a more experimental side of the trio, with howls, whispers, shouts, and dolphin-cry glissandos pitted against dissonant breaks in the midst of a walking line from Jormin.
While this trio could be a single album experiment, the wide range of sonic combinations they display on the material here makes one hope that Trees of Light is just the beginning of this collaboration.