Ånon Egeland, Bruce Molsky, and Arto Järvelä - Rauland Rambles
Ånon Egeland, Bruce Molsky, and Arto Järvelä Rauland Rambles
OArt Music, Finland
Review by Greg Harness
Isn't it great when you find out that three musicians you admire have recorded an album together? Bruce Molsky is a veteran of American string bands and transatlantic sessions; I wrote about his collaboration with Annbjørg Lien in a previous RootsWorld article. I've heard Arto Järvelä on more recordings than I can keep track of, performing with JPP, Maria Kalaniemi, Timo Alakotila, Ruthie Dornfeld, and more. And it was Norway's Ånon Egeland who, back in the late 1990s, opened my ears to how musical a munnharpe can be.
Recorded at the 2016 Rauland International Winter Festival in Norway, this album contains a great mix of Norwegian, Finnish, and American traditional tunes in various combinations of fiddle, hardingfele, ukulele, kantele, banjo, munnharpe, and seljefløyte.
"Engelska från Korpo"
“Engelska från Korpo,” an English dance tune from Finnish island of Korpo, is the first track and features all three musicians on fiddle. The trio plays this as an airy, ethereal dance, performed mostly in unison, but each player throws in his own harmonies and ornaments throughout.
“Harvelandsvalsen” is played by Egeland and Järvelä on fiddles and Molsky on banjo. The tune comes from Norway's Tvedestrand, and is ostensibly a waltz, although it does not stay strictly in three-quarter time. Molsky's clawhammer banjo fits the fiddles perfectly.
“Reuben” features Molsky on banjo, Järvelä on kantele, and Egeland on seljefløyte. This is one of those songs in which I never tire of hearing a new version. I enjoy how every rendition takes a slightly different direction -- different instrumentation, different speeds, different mixing of the innumerable verses and textual variations. I've heard many banjo versions, but never a version with kantele. And the overtone flute adds a special forlornness to this story of a wrecked train. This is the standout track on this album, and my new favorite recording of this standard.
"Laulu, olut ja viina"
It's great to hear these musicians from separate cultures and traditions come together, absorbing and recreating various regional styles, each player bringing an individual spark. This cross-cultural collaboration is yet another treasure from musicians who already held my highest respect.
- Greg Harness