Sibelius Academy Folk Big Band
FBB (Siba Records SRCD-1012, 2014)
Sibelius Academy Folk Big Band’s (Sibelius-Akatemian Folk Big Band) sound is gargantuan. Their release of FBB on the Siba Records label is brimming over with that colossal sound. This big band is teaming with violins, bowed lyres, nyckelharpas, basses, harmoniums, kanteles (Finnish instrument in the zither family), guitars, two-and-a-half-row accordions and five row accordions. Oh, did I mention clarinets, mouth harps, saxophones, recorders, citterns and percussion? Guess I didn’t mention the eight vocalists that go along with big band or the four guest musicians that appear on FBB . If that weren’t impressive enough each of the some fifty members of the Sibelius-Akatemian Folk Big Band work as a musician, arranger, soloist and improviser, all without a conductor or sheet music.
Flying without a net and a cat herder, this big band conjures up out of polskas, waltzes, schottische tunes and shepherd’s tunes a yummy folk sound that is infectiously bright and delightfully bubbly.
Seeking to expand the scope and breadth of Finnish folk while still paying homage to tradition, the Sibelius-Akatemian Folk Big Band pulls out all the stops on this brand of bold, energetic folk from the opening worked over polska tune “A-Taklax.”
Listeners are treated to the miner’s song “Kaivantomiehen Laulu,” the sweet flute and vocal mix of “Laulu Suomessa” and the wild, deep folk of “Haliasoitto,” where listeners are treated to the sweep of strings, a layer of intriguing percussion and vocals that sound like a flock of birds. There’s the delicious folk number “D-Mollisottiisi” with its savvy, snarly turns, the a capella version of “Neijon Valitus” and the charmed “Maria Pohjan Neiti Osa I” with a lovely harp and even lovelier vocals to charm listeners.
“Vanhalla Nuorisoseuralla” and the raucous ride of “Ruskova” are two more stand out tracks.
FBB frolics with expert musicianship, but I think it’s the arranging that really stands out as masterful with this large group of singers and musicians and not one bit sounds cluttered.
Sibelius-Akatemian Folk Big Band’s FBB sound is gigantic, massive, tremendous and prodigious. In other words it’s a big, fat success.
Buy FBB in North America
Buy FBB in Europe
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.