Goodland Trio - Skogen

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Goodland Trio
Skogen I Staden
Gammalthea (

One of the many things I love about Nordic folk music is the way musicians are not afraid to blend traditional hardingfeles, nyckelharpas, and kanteles with “new” instruments. I am thinking in particular about the saxophone, and the way it's been integrated into folk music by Ragnhild Furebotten, Over Sundet, Frode Haltli, and others. Maybe it's the influence of Norwegian jazz legend, Jan Garbarek, who himself intertwined the saxophone into Nordic music beyond the boundaries of jazz. Maybe it's the thrill of mixing various reed instruments -- accordions and harmonicas and clarinets -- in a confined musical space. Or maybe it's that saxophones are shiny.

Goodland Trio was new to me, but I was familiar with two members of the ensemble. Saxophonist Hanna Wiskari Griffiths also performs with Habbadam and is part of the six-saxophone ensemble Horn Please! And Oskar Reuter, who appears primarily on 12-string guitar with Goodland Trio, is the mandolinist with that mighty fine bluegrass band The Downtown Ramblers. Jonathan Larsson rounds out the trio with his accordion.

"Kanadensarn (Canadian)" (exceprt)

All of the songs on Skogen I Staden are instrumentals, and all are original compositions with six written by Reuter, four by Larsson, and two by Griffiths. Many are based on dance tunes, with two polskas, a waltz, a march, and a “schottis that wanted to be a halling but really was a Canadian all along.” The three musicians really have an affinity for each other and for each others' music. These tunes sound like they are played with one musical mind, like a master of the pipe organ who is working three separate musical voices with one body. The musical prowess of this trio is inspiring.


My favorite track is “Fanfar,” a Larsson composition and a tribute to the region of Dalecarlia in central Sweden. The Trio is joined by two Dalecarlian musicians, Maria Hultgren on fiddle and Mikael Sjögren on viola who arranged the piece for the larger ensemble. Griffiths's soprano saxophone carries the melody, and the tune begins as a saxophone-accordion duo. Then the various strings are added, and they follow along in various harmonic and countermelodic voices. This tune more brought to mind arrangements of another Swedish ensemble, Väsen, who are mentioned explicitly as the inspiration of another track on this record, “På väg hem.”

"På väg hem" (exceprt)

I have only one complaint. The title track is hidden, playing only at the end of track 12 following about 90 seconds of silence. I have always found hidden tracks unsettling. It's probably the silence that separates the hidden track from the rest of the record that unsettles me.

That said, listeners will find Skogen I Staden a very enjoyable record. There is much to love in the mix of instruments, the compositions, the arrangements, the musicianship, and the overall production of this album. - by Greg Harness

Further adventures:
Review: NID
Review: Habbadam


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