Folks understandably may not be familiar with Juli Wood and her group, aside from those who live in the Chicago area; she's a regular performer there, but apparently doesn't wander far from home. Well, this release is a gem, and Wood definitely deserves our attention. She plays tenor sax; her cohorts are guitarist Alejandro Urzagaste, bassist Clark Sommers, and drummer Mike Schlick. The song titles are almost unpronounceable - unless you're Finnish - because they're all in that language. But their content is presented in the common language of jazz, which is recognizable around the globe.
Synkkä Metsä is one of the most relaxing and listenable releases I've heard in a long time. As with many folk tunes, the melodic lines are simple, yet beautiful; the arrangements swing quietly, tastefully and smoothly. Wood gets a subtle tone out of her instrument, and her supporting cast members are equally elegant. The tunes are a varied mix of balladic and up-tempo melodies; all are explained briefly in Wood's liner notes. You'll want to listen to this disc again and again. Congratulations to OA2, for recognizing the talent and value of these artists, and for sharing them with the wider world outside of Chicago.