The Mortal LeaseAlbum
Cover: Pauliina Nykänen
|LP, CD, digi
|Flame Jazz Records
Sävellykset: Josefiina Vannesluoma
Flame Jazz Records released the album The Mortal Lease by Josefiina Vannesluoma and the Mortal Lease band in October 2023.
Singer and composer Josefiina Vannesluoma released her debut solo album The Mortal Lease in the fall of 2023. In addition to Vannesluoma, the Mortal Lease band features young top musicians Mikael Myrskog, Nathan Francis, and Ville Luukkonen. The album also features Sampo Kasurinen on alto flute, clarinet, and tenor saxophone.
Markus Kärki, who has worked on albums like Signe's To Sappho, served as the artistic producer of the album alongside Vannesluoma.
"Markus did an amazing job with the album's sound, almost like expanding our ensemble into a chamber orchestra," praised Vannesluoma.
The inspiration for the album and its source of lyrics is Edith Wharton's sonnet series The Mortal Lease. The ornate sonnets tell of ecstasy, thirst for life, and the search for meaning. Vannesluoma, a graduate of Sibelius Academy, composed the material heard on the album for her master's concert in 2019.
"I stumbled upon Edith Wharton by chance. I subscribed to a newsletter of American poets, where she was featured. I became interested in her because her work and life story appealed to me on many levels, much like other historical female poets whose poems I've composed music to," Vannesluoma explained.
"All the poets I've followed have been pioneers of their time. They all had a linguistic or thematic element in their work that caught my attention. They were all united by an uncompromising commitment to pursuing their passion, and they did not settle for common expectations. I composed the sonnet in two days and showed it to Professor Anders Jormin, who encouraged me to compose the entire series."
The eight-track album is a rich and nuanced whole with moods ranging from ecstatic outbursts to subdued elegance. Influences from different musical styles also naturally become part of the jazz ensemble's storytelling.
The album opens with impressionistic tones, with pianist Mikael Myrskog and alto flutist Sampo Kasurinen painting in the background, and Vannesluoma interpreting in a state of delicate wonder. This is followed by more traditional jazz ensemble playing with the song Because our kiss, which was also released as a single. The third track, All is sweet, erupts into a lively blues with references to ancient myths in the lyrics.
The listener lingers in the realm of infatuation on the track Yet for one rounded moment, which is adapted to a Bulgarian folk melody, Kalimankou denkou. Delicate vocal ornamentation and clarinet interludes add a touch of Balkan romance to the song. Towards the end of the album, the intensity increases as Kasurinen switches to the tenor saxophone. The fiery solos in the song Shall I not know? keep the listener engaged before the final track's magical mood, Strive we no more.
The Mortal Lease is built around ambitious ensemble playing. Each musician has formed their own role in the story. Their interpretations are particularly evident in precise rhythmic expression, fiery solos, and collective moments of exploration.
"On the album, you'll hear a lot of improvisation, both solo breaks and beautiful textures created by the entire ensemble. In the mixing phase, our technician Markus Kärki was surprised when he saw the sheet music because many fully composed-sounding sections were actually entirely improvised by the band," Vannesluoma smiled.
However, the final interpretation is shaped by the entire ensemble during each performance.
"We've been playing this series live for several years now, and it's cool to see how each time we find something new in the series by arranging it on the fly," Vannesluoma explained.
- Because the currents
- Because our kiss
- All is sweet
- Sad immortality is dead
- Yet for one rounded moment
- The moment came
- Shall I not know?
- Strive we no more