On her third album Koan, Johanna Elina Sulkunen has launched a new project, this time as a SOLO, called Sonority. The project invites a multilayered journey of sounds of a human voice mixed with electronics and touching on life’s big questions. The name of the album, Kōan means paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment.
All the sounds on the album are based on vocal sounds and field recordings from Japanese Buddhist temples and manipulation of them– electronically. Johanna traveled to Japan in 2016 to record in temples and collect sounds. In her words: “I had to contextualize the text and the project that I’m working with somehow. I also wanted to record the sounds and objects in the temples to create music with the surroundings” Says Johanna.
Rather than concentrating on the storytelling, language has been used as a tool. It has been broken into pieces exposing the poetics of a sonic material of letters, syllables, and words and revealing an infinite source of sound-based composition and improvisation.
“Concentrating on sound has opened a lot of doors for me as a composer and vocalist. The ‘liberation of sound’ is not a new statement, but with my background as a so-called ‘jazz vocalist’ the use of electronics and the more sound-based composing combined with the full autonomy in solo playing has been a personal liberation for me!” states Johanna.
Along with her jazz background, some of the biggest influences for the project shine through in the album. Among them; Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros, and on the other hand electronic musicians like Ikue Mori and Holly Herndon. The result is a special combination of music concrete, improvised vocals and contemporary classical music mixed with jazz influences. Human vocal sounds and electronic sounds create a symbiosis where electronics become embodied in the human body and voice becomes electric.
Album “Belonging” was nominated as a Danish Music Award jazz vocal album of the year 2016.
Anders Filipsen (Dk)- synths
Henrik Olsson (Se) – guitar
Håkon Berre (No) – drums
“Johanna Elina continues to cultivate her style […] Denmark based singer/songwriter with a jazz background is even more fearless and abstract than before” […] in the outstanding expression of the voice, that plays along with a small group- keys, guitar, and drums – that has played and produced in many layers. ” – Helsingin Sanomat. Finland.
Her debut album”Our Garden” was released in 2011 with an exquisite response. There were altogether 11 musicians appearing on the album, among them Danish Music Grammy winner August Rosenbaum (DK) on piano, international names like Francesco Bigoni (ITA) on saxophone, Joel Illerhag (SE) on bass and Håkon Berre (NOR) on drums. With an open mind towards different musical expressions, the music can be described as modern alternative jazz.
About Our Garden
“… Johanna Elina opens her debut album in superior fashion, full of originality and feeling of the simple melody and a cream of the crop accompaniment from the orchestra around her.” – Christian Munch-Hansen. Politken.DK
“ Exciting new voice on the Danish jazz scene is bidding fall welcome with a confident and compassionate debut… that goes against the institutional jazz diva affectations, and gives space for independent and original songwriting.” – Geiger. DK
“Johanna Elina has set an ambitious and high standard. It is music with depth, which insists on being listened to.” Jazz Nytt, DK.
Johanna Sulkunen – voc/composition
Randi Pontoppidan – voc/composition
Guro Tveitnes – voice
Anna Mose – voice
Kamilla Kovacs – voice
Carolyn Goodwin – bass clarinet
Pauline Hogstrand -viola
Anne Anderson – trompet
Ida Bach Jensen- double bass
Maria Dybbroe – sax
Johanna Sulkunen (voc/composition)
Tapani Toivanen (bass/composition)
Simon Toldam (piano,synths)
Olavi Louhivuori (drums)
Tomasz Stańko Experience
Lengendary free jazz trumet player and ECM artist, Tomasz Stańko, with a group of younger highly accomplished musicians from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Poland. The Group played it’s first tour in Denmark during the Copenhagen Vinter Jazz Festival 2016 and received among other praise a 5 star review from Danish national newspaper, Berlingske, at a sold out concert in Copenhagen Jazz House.
Tomasz Stanko (Pl) – trumpet
Tomasz Dabrowski (Pl) – trumpet
Snorri Sigurðarson (Is) – trumpet
Thomas Hass (Dk) – tennor sax
Johanna Sulkunen (Fi) – vocal
Artur Tuznik (Pl) – piano
Martin Fabricius (Dk) -vibes
Stian Svenson (No) – guitar
Richard Anderson (Dk) – bass
Radek Wosko (Pl) -drums
Read the reviews here:
5 stars for The Tomasz Stanko Experience from Berlingske Tidende Review Berlinske Tiderne
4 Hearts review for The Tomasz Stanko Experience from Politiken. “Strength of the concert was the democratic nature, where intensive listening played a big role… Johanna Elina Sulkunen spread out her voice also appeared with Dadaist cascades and also added text to her singing in her
beautiful composition ‘Circles’.
Johanna Sulkunen – voice
Aki Rissanen – piano/ synths
Joonas Leppänen – drums