Heikki Sarmanto & Jeannine Otis - "Magic Song"
(Sarmanto - Cutler)
Arranged by Eero Koivistoinen
Traveller Records 2013. ℗ Scandia 1980. © Warner/Chappell Music Finland.http://travellerrecords.com...http://soundcloud.com/trave...
"Many of the explorations in vocal fusion jazz in Finland during the 70s and 80s somehow ended up rather less than exciting. But if there were ever two tracks you could imagine a 90s acid jazz crowd going bonkers for, they must be "Magic Song" and "Summer Sun" from the Jeannine Otis & Heikki Sarmanto album from 1980. Now the funky title track, tipping its hi-hat to jazzer-come-soul-sellout school of fusion legends like Norman Connors and George Duke, and the Brazilian-bounce-laden "Summer Sun", appear for the first time on a 7" vinyl single.
Listening to these tracks, it is clear that the pianist/composer Heikki Sarmanto had nurtured international aspirations for some time. He had become known two decades before as one of the key players in the second generation of Finnish jazz musicians, abandoning swing and even hard bop for a strictly modern approach. This can be heard on his debut album Flowers in the Water from 1968, where he develops the approaches chosen as a pianist in groups led by Christian Schwindt and Esa Pethman some years before. During the 70s he shared sessions with the cream of Finnish jazz and developed a skill for orchestral composition. During that time he also spent lengthy periods in New York and Boston, where he stumbled upon singer and poet Jeannine Otis.
So in flew the Detroit-born Otis with her high and clear jazz pipes, to give the Finnish jazz scene something it had been lacking: proper control and pronunciation of the English language. The album was probably intended to open a few doors beyond the small domestic scene, but it ultimately disappeared without a trace into the local dollar-bin universe, only to be dug out by rare groove aficionados twenty years later. It's about time for a proper resurrection!"
- Markus Karlqvist