Juniper by Linda Frederiksson


There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. If I like something, there should be no feelings of guilt, no concern that other people would consider that I have poor taste. The image that I think I present to the outside world should have no bearing on what I actually like. I reckon I’ve watched every episode of Star Trek: Voyager at least four times and if anyone else disapproves, then that’s their bad luck. On the other hand, the 17 year old me, proudly carrying around a copy of “Shooting At The Moon” by Kevin Ayers And The Whole World, is still alive and kicking, as this blog demonstrates.

One song that I really like, and could be regarded as a guilty pleasure, is “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty. I left it off my list of guilty pleasures last year but I think it’s great. One of the main reasons that I like it so much is the saxophone playing of the British musician, Raphael Ravenscroft. He was paid £27.50 for his playing on the song.

The first time that I was made aware that a saxophone solo could be a work of beauty was when I read Richard Williams’ review of the title track of Van Morrison’s album, “Moondance”. I can’t find the original article but, when describing Jack Schroer’s alto sax solo, he wrote that a thousand old jive saxophonists got to their feet and applauded at the end.

The most outrageous saxophone solo I’ve heard is by Bunk Gardner, who played with The Mothers Of Invention until 1969. The solo occurs at the end of the third track of Side Two of the second best album ever, “Starsailor” by Tim Buckley. As if Tim Buckley’s vocals on “The Healing Festival” weren’t manic enough, the free form wildness and extemporisation of Bunk Gardner’s tenor saxophone is thrilling.

One day at College, nearly 50 years ago, my friend Paul once told me, in the company of someone called Bob, that he didn’t like a particular song (I can’t remember which song), because it had a saxophone solo in it. Bob was a great guy but was also very scary because he was the go-to dope dealer and I never partook. Nevertheless, we got on okay and often sat together in lectures, pretending to understand astrophysics. A few days later, Bob complained to me, in his broad Brummie accent that he couldn’t “understand how Paul could dismiss a whole instrument”. You say one thing that you don’t mean in a casual conversation and fifty years later, it gets repeated on a random post.

Linda Fredriksson is a jazz saxophonist from Finland. They have been in three bands, Superposition, the lavish jazz-rap ensemble Ricky-Tick Big Band and an eclectic power trio called Mopo, playing baritone sax, alto sax, flute and bass clarinet. They like to consider this album as a singer-songwriter’s album played by an instrumental jazz band. However, Linda Fredriksson prefers to use the term improvised music rather than jazz for their own music. “It’s a freer term and more accurately describes this music, which I do. Probably most of all I wouldn’t put my music in any genre.” They cite several influences including Feist (“the songs are intimate and they combine gritty recordings with hi-fi“) and Billie Eilish (“I like her minimalist approach“).

Linda Frederiksson composes most of their music on guitar or piano because they like to hum a melody while playing the chords of the composition. Most of these songs were originally recorded on a “thrashed out” acoustic guitar which they were given when they were a child. “I love its sound, so I still use it for composing. I recorded the guitar for a demo pattern with a laptop mic in my kitchen“. They intended to record over this lo-fi sound in the studio but they felt that something was lost when that happened. “So I ended up using the lo-fi demo part instead.” Linda Frederiksson feels that the resulting feel of the album makes it sound like “it was played in someone’s living room or on the porch of their cottage.”

Another important ingredient to the sound is “found sounds”, such as falling rain, a conversation about a birthday cake, the steady hum of a forest or a group of friends cooking a meal. “It was sheer experimentation: would a clip of my friends chattering in my kitchen fit here? Why not, since it ended up changing the mood significantly. My goal was to use the recordings as stealthily as possible. If a listener doesn’t pay any rational attention to them while listening, I’ve succeeded in my task.”

Other musicians on the album include Tuomo Prättälä on piano (electric and acoustic), Minna Koivisto on modular synth, Olavi Louhivuori on drums and Mikael Saastamoinen on bass.

“Nana-Tepalle”, is dedicated to Linda Fredriksson’s departed grandmother and displays a full range of emotion, which is enhanced by a beautiful piano coda. “The outro of the song was the last unfinished part on the album. When I worked on it, my grandmother started to fall ill and eventually passed away. I realized that I have to dedicate this composition to her, it had that certain kind of essence.”

“Lempilauluni” features Linda Fredriksson’s wordless voice. “In my mind, this song is playing in my mind at the cottage when all the hustle and bustle is left behind. Someone is sitting on the dock, smiling. It’s a mellow, warm and sleepy afternoon. I can hear the flies buzzing and the pine trees smelling.”

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

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