Maria Kalaniemi Trio - Tokyo
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Maria Kalaniemi Trio
Tokyo Concert
Amigo, Sweden (

cd cover I have seen composer/accordionist Maria Kalaniemi perform numerous times over the last decade, and I can tell you that there is a unique character to her concerts that is never quite captured on tape. So it's a pleasure to finally have a record of a live performance that I can slip into the machine any time. While a CD is never 'just like being there,' this recording is a damn fine approximation of the experience. The thirteen tracks recorded in Tokyo and performed with her regular compatriots Timo Alakotila (piano) and Olli Varis (guitar), exude the wide range of emotions she is capable of bringing out of her instrument and more importantly, out of the compositions (primarily written by she or Alakotila). Her often careful approach to the music comes off warmer and more personal in these live recordings.

This is a sort of 'greatest hits' collection, in that all the works included were previously presented on various studio recordings over the years. Some hold strictly to the original arrangements, some not, but all are imbued with new character by the trio formation that is used to present them. Alakotila has always been one of the unsung heroes of Finnish music, with his unpretentious yet unique piano style and his fine-tuned ear for folk, classical and jazz forms. He and guitarist Varis are rarely too far up front here, but are nonetheless essential to the feel of these tracks.

For those who have seen her in concert, this will bring back some of the 'chill down your spine' feeling I often get listening to her perform. For those who have not had the good fortune, this is a wonderful, if inevitably imperfect, start. - CF

CD available from cdRoots

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