Drummer Markku Ounaskari and pianist Samuli Mikkonen have collaborated in many ‘jazz’ groups over the years but they’ve always been players open to more than just jazz. Ounaskari was last heard on ECM, for instance, in the company of folk singer Sinikka Langeland (“Starflowers”) and both he and Mikkonen have worked with Finnish group Piirpauke, pioneers in the fusing of folk, jazz and ‘world music’ elements. In recent years Mikkonen – who makes his ECM debut here - has been increasingly inspired by different folk musics, from his own Fenno-Ugrian roots through Middle East and Chinese modal improvisations to the vast diversity of grooves in West Africa and Brazil. At the same time his work is informed by extensive classical studies at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Ounaskari has played with all the major Finnish jazz figures, and with international players including Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Tomasz Stanko and Marc Ducret.
Ounaskari and Mikkonen invited veteran Norwegian trumpeter/singer Per Jørgensen to join them in their new band. Well known to ECM listeners for his appearances on recordings with Jon Balke (“Nonsentration”, “Further”, “Kyanos”, “Diverted Travels”), Michael Mantler (“School of Understanding”, “Review”) and Miki N’Doye (“Tuki”), Jørgensen has also played with David Murray, Dave Liebman, Jack Bruce, Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell and many others, always finding new contexts for his wide-open trumpet playing and his unique vocalese. Jon Balke calls Jørgensen “a magical musician” – a view shared by many other players. Between them the trio members represent three generations of Scandinavian improvising – Jørgensen born in 1952, Ounaskari in 1967, Mikkonen in 1973.