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Maria Kalaniemi and Aldargaz
Rockadillo (Finland) / Northside (US)

cd cover maria-hands In three recordings on her own (plus side gigs and other ensembles too numerous to list) and in the concerts I have been lucky enough to hear, accordionist Maria Kalaniemi has proved herself a phenomenal technician, a sensitive player with an unusually vibrant, physical approach to the instrument, a strong composer and a vital interpreter of other writers. She has toured the world, introducing us to her brand of "newly composed folk music" from Finland, and has handily thrown the term "folk" into chaos as she and her fellow musicians push into pop, jazz and art music in a way that makes the music impossible to categorize.

Real Audio
Ahma is a composers' album, with contributions from Kalaniemi, a number of new works by pianist Timo Alakotila and one each from guitarist Olli Varis and bassist Tapani Varis. The writing runs from the exuberant ("Ahma" and the brief burst of hyper-energy that is "Kampi") to the pastoral ("Kaamos"), from the romantic ("Ängskär") to the austere (T. Varis' "Nautilus"). It is also an arrangers' album, and the collaboration of Kalaniemi and Alakotila has never been stronger on that front. The six piece ensemble Aldargaz includes Petri Hakala on mandolins and Arto Järvelä on violin, and the group is as fine-tuned as they could be; Aldargaz has hit its stride, with enough time now to have developed that unifying sixth sense that marks great ensemble playing. They are aided and abetted by the fiddlers from JPP and occasional outbursts from a drummer and a horn section, all pulled tightly together by arrangements that can surprise and one or twice amaze. Ahma finally takes Kalaniemi out of the "folk" music box and into the broader world of popular composer and musician, and she seems poised to move even further outside in the future. – Cliff Furnald

Buy it at
Buy it at

Audio: "Kamppi" composed by Maria Kalaniemi, published by Zen Master/Finland
©1999,2001 Rockadillo (Finland), Northside (US)

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