Artist: Julia Strzalek, Cornelia Nilsson
Title: Scenery Somewhere
Label: FRIM Records
Cat nr: FRIM5
Style: Free Jazz
- Alto Saxophone – Julia Strzalek
- Drums – Cornelia Nilsson
- Liner Notes – Alexander Hawkins
- Mixed By, Mastered By – John Fomsgaard
- Recorded By – Johan E. Andersson
Recorded September 3rd 2021 at Kapellet, Stockholm
Strzalek/Nilsson is a light yet grounded, joyful and interesting meeting between two strong voices. Playing together for the first time as a duo, they manage to create a beautiful piece of music composed in the moment – sometimes playful and melodic, sometimes more percussive and sound oriented, but always extremely attentive and patient.
Julia Strzalek (born 1989) is a German saxophonist and composer, based in Stockholm. She studied at the Music Conservatory in Mannheim and the Royal College of Music in Stockholm where she graduated in 2014. Julia is working in the field of jazz and improvised music. In 2018 she received the prestigious improvisation award by SKAP (Swedish composers and lyricists). Julia released two albums with her own group, ‘Kolibri’ (2016) and ‘TVÅ’ (2020). ‘With a great musical heart, she creates flowing music that always is in motion. Respectfully she ignores genre boundaries and lets her personality shine through in her work.’ (SKAP, 2018)
The award-winning Swedish drummer Cornelia Nilsson (born 1992) has made a big impression on the Scandinavian jazzscene, playing all kinds of music from be-bop to freely improvised music. During the last 6 years she has performed around Europe with musicians like Aaron Parks, Seamus Blake, AC, Jakob Bro, David Wong, Tim Hagans and Grant Stewart to name a few.
She was the drummer of choice when Kenny Barron needed a sub for a concert in Madrid 2019 and recently made her first musical encounter with Mr. Ron Carter.
How magical that in an improvisation recorded in a former hospital funeral chapel, we hear the sounds of life.
We hear the sounds of breath. Not only the gentle sibilance of the air spilling from the edges of the mouthpiece, as it escapes life as a note; not only the airiness of those low drums: but also the sound of the music being allowed to breathe within the space’s very special acoustic. We hear the sounds of the heartbeat in Cornelia Nilsson’s low drums, now urgent, now reassuring. And we hear the unmistakeable sound of the voice in Julia Strzalek’s alto tone.
Drums as heartbeat, saxophone as voice, yes; but throughout, we also hear rhythmic saxophone, and melodic drums. Listen too to Strzalek’s parsimony, as she spins melodies by worrying at permutations of a small number of pitches, just as might a great drummer. And if this is one example of highly compositional improvisation, listen also to Nilsson’s acute sense of orchestration and textural clarity, both of which contribute to the masterful sense of structure which emerges from the performance.
There are moments of great fragility and delicacy in this music, but there is an equally stunning sense of poise and underlying strength: the almost sledgehammer-impact of the duo never capitulating to the histrionics which can occasionally characterise the saxophone-drums context. The quiet fire of the performance does at one point burst out into something more expressionistic, but instead of this being a culmination, no sooner has the moment arrived than it magically transitions into a transcendent final five minute coda of ecstatic restraint.
The sounds of peace, patience, poise, and indeed – the sounds of life.
– Alexander Hawkins, Oxford, October 2022
FRIM (The Association for Free Improvised Music) is a musician-driven association that was founded in 1976 to create a platform for free
improvised music in Sweden and to promote the ongoing discussion about improvised music as an artform. These days FRIM arranges concerts and festivals of improvised music in Stockholm. Since 2017, FRIM is running a monthly concert series at Fylkingen and organizes concerts and festivals at various venues in town. In 2021, a pod – FRIM-Podden – was launched; as well as a record label: FRIM Records.