Juli Wood: tenor saxophone
Alejandro Urzagaste: guitar
Clark Sommers: bass
Mike Schlick: drums

Album Information

Title: Synkka Metsa (Dark Forest)
Year Released: 2015
Record Label: OA2 Records

Synkkä Metsä

Inspired by Art Farmer’s 1964 recording of Swedish folk songs, “To Sweden With Love,” Chicago saxophonist Juli Wood delved into her own Finnish heritage for material to explore on her newest recording. With hauntingly beautiful melodies and harmonies that invite new interpretations, Wood and her quartet – with Alejandro Urzagaste on guitar, Clark Sommers on bass and drummer Mike Schlick – create an inspired recording of six traditional Karelian, Finnish and Aland Island songs along with two compositions by famed Finnish musician Matti Jurva. “She weaves her own straight forward statements from the horn with a great deal of heart and a real heaping helping of soul.” – Jan-Erik Holmberg, Hufvudstadsbladet/Helsinki.

Track List

1 Lapin äidin Kehto Laulu
(Lapland Mother’s Cradle Song ) 5:04

2 Taivas on Sininen ja Valkoinen
(The Sky is Blue and White) 7:29

3 Karjalan Kunnailla
(Hills of Karelia) 4:40

4 Väliaikainen
(Temporary) 5:30

5 Ken voi Tyynessä Seilata
(Who Can Sail in the Calm?) 5:01

6 Toul’ on Mun Kultani
(There is My Sweetheart) 3:47

7 Tuohinen Sormus
(Birchbark Ring) 6:17

8 Villiruusu
(Wild Rose) 3:59 

Audio Samples



Local saxophonist Juli Wood pays homage to her Finnish roots on her new album

Local saxophonist Juli Wood pays homage to her Finnish roots on her new album

Chicago saxophonist Juli Wood is clearly a fan of that Farmer album as well. Today is the release date of an impressive quartet album called Synkkä Metsä(OA2)—the title is Finnish for “dark forest”—which was inspired by the Farmer album. The mixture of Finnish, Karelian, and Aland Islands traditional songs are probably more ingrained in Wood’s makeup than those Swedish melodies were for Farmer, though—her grandparents were all Finnish immigrants.

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Juli Wood Quartet: Synkka Metsa (Dark Forest)

Juli Wood Quartet: Synkka Metsa (Dark Forest)

Chicago’s Juli Wood—who plays multiple reeds, but sticks to the tenor saxophone here—explores her Finnish heritage on Synkka Metsa, a collection of Finnish folk songs. Inspired by trumpeter Art Farmer’s Scandinavian foray, To Sweden with Love (Atlantic Records, 1964), that featured quartet with Jim Hall on guitar, Wood employes her own quartet here, with bassist Clark Sommers sitting in on bass, Alejandro Urzagaste on guitar and Mike Schlick on drums.

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