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Trio Nueva Finlandia: Ha! - What's Going On?

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The members of the Trio Nueva Finlandia call their music "unique music" rather than "improvised music," for they note that "the word 'improvised' in general use has a taste of being something easy and cheap compared to composing." This is fine, for there's nothing easy or cheap about the music on Ha! - What's Going On?, which showcases their remarkable sensitivity in the musical moment. "Part 3" of "Suite N. 17258," for example, with Baron Paakkunainen on tenor saxophone, has the Baron adding tones that mesh perfectly with Teppo Hauta-aho's bowed bass. On the meditative "Lentosteron," another segment of the same suite, it is pianist Eero Ojanen's turn to interact with Hauta-aho's bowing, and he does so magnificently with some playing on the strings and some marvelous trilling figures at the very edge of the piano's possibilities. When Paakkunainen enters, he only augments the mood.

A good bit of this disc has the same meditative feel: the bass feature (of course) "Less Mingus" builds up ever so slowly from the minutest sounds; on "Emanon," Ojanen plays a few Cecil Taylorian/Romantic figures but the overall sound level remains low. "Ha!," the opening track, seems to mock the seriousness of the later quiet tracks by achieving a horror-house feel, complete with un-human screams. More upbeat (and siren-punctuated) is "Prestosteron."

The members of this Trio have played with everyone from Dexter Gordon to Anthony Braxton. The Baron here plays flute, alto flute, and soprano, tenor, and baritone saxophones. Hauta-aho plays bass, cello, and siren. Ojanen plays piano as if it were two (or more) separate instruments. The music they make here is worthy to be heard, repeatedly and carefully, in its own right.

Record Label: Leo Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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