Jarmo Saari's Republic Louhisali April Jazz Tapiola, Espoo, Finland April 26, 2014 Spring in the north of Europe is long awaited after the long dark winter months, and with the yearly arrival of April Jazz in the eastern Helsinki suburb of Tapiola the ears of the city's musical community inevitably orientate in this direction. Every year this mini festival brings a host of American musicians for solo concerts and for late night interplay with local Finnish musicians. These informal cross cultural gatherings aside, the festival typically also showcases some of the best of contemporary ...read more
This first album released on Eclipse Music by 3 Nordic young male improvisers sees the fruit of time spent together in small practice rooms. It is tight, driving music, often with more than an occasional comic twist in the tail. With an eye, or probably more a highly tuned ear, to the dance-ability of their music they have produced an album that has more than an element of Klezmer as well as free-form jazz alongside contemporary rock in its insistent and powerful rhythms. This underlines why northern European jazz is at the forefront of more accessible modern jazz these days.read more
Mikko Innanen's Innkvisitio Sellohalli 10th Anniversary Concert Helsinki March 13, 2014Much music is best consumed with a pinch of salt, if not a glass of beer or something stronger, and the best works of Mikko Innanen are quite hard on the aural digestive system. But as any good meal appeals to far more senses than the gastronomic, so Innanen is involved in more than a musical odyssey. Moreover the meal he serves has to be considered very much in its context. This concert formed a 10th anniversary show for his main ...read more
This album of tunes from the cross-border, French-led trio features many elements of their native approaches to improvised music-- exploratory experimentation on the boundaries of the respective instruments, solo work of a high order, and a strong sense of playfulness. The three instruments concerned are all from the middle range of pitch, as suggested in the title, two tenor saxophones led by a cello. As one might expect from the likes of Vincent Courtois (sometime colleague of John Greaves, Sylvie Courvoisier, Dominique Pifarély, and Joachim Kühn to name a few) invention features highly among the selection, even ...read more
Josh Pollock may seem a strange guitarist to be featured in a jazz magazine in as much as a large body of his music is distinctly rock-worthy. Indeed in this interview he explicitly avows the necessity for rock bands, and especially ones in which he is involved such as 3 Leafs and Citay, to really rock! But in addition to his mainstay work in and around San Francisco theaters (Shotgun, EXIT Theater) Pollock has been participating in radical freestyle composition and performance, much of which can readily be incorporated under the jazz rubric. Most noteworthy of recent ...read more
The third album from this Finnish, drummer led quintet is something of a departure from its predecessors, not in its participants, its ethos nor its strong visual imagery, but in the balance between the components. With only occasional use of powerful rhythm, both earlier albums bore a sparse and principally acoustic feel on the long, even rambling, instrumental pieces. The development of guitarist Lasse Sakara's taste in electronics may help explain the current change, although the credits are again all (but one) ascribed to the leader Olavi Louhivuori, whose musicality obviously extends beyond his drumkit. As before, ...read more
Despite its ambitious, other-worldly title, this album by the young Swiss piano trio is a very grounded product, highlighting the compositional skills of its leader Stefan Aeby. On this his second album with the trio, Aeby continues his relaxed, sometimes lugubrious style of tune, making for a selection of tracks that meander along well trodden routes but also can bring the listener up short. Bruine," the sixth track, epitomises this with a languorous fade out that tempts the listener repeatedly to check that the disc is still playing, before merging directly into the combatively assertive Riot" where ...read more
As its name suggests,this album is aimed at an audience familiar with gamelan and tuned percussion, as opposed to the year's other drum trio release by Zach Hill, Janet Weiss and Matt Cameron, a 40 minute rolling improvisation. Here each piece is highly scripted by leader Mika Kallio, and mainly follows lines he lays down on his numerous tuned gongs. Not that unimpeded and even raucous jamming play no part, but it is small compared to the number of more delicate tunes that fill the album, nine in total. It should be remembered that this is released ...read more
Black Motor with Verneri PohjolaFlow Festival, The Balloon StageHelsinki, FinlandAugust 11, 2013On the last day of the summer holidays, and under what's typical seasonally unpredictable weather, a large crowd gathered in downtown Helsinki for Scandinavia's urban music event, Flow Festival. Black Motor Trio began its set with a tunes featuring its usual bravado and panache, ably abetted by Finland's decorated trumpeter, Verneri Pohjola. This was the same lineup as on its recent release Rubidium (TUM records, 2012), where the band successfully interwove Pohjola's more melodic pieces with its usual free jazz repertoire. The band frequently ...read more
The opening 30 seconds of this exploration of the Time Continuum belies the power of the music that follows. A Cross-European Venture is a selection of pieces, mainly from the pen of pianist Sid Hille, more than ably assisted by a thoroughly competent Italo-Finnish gang of four. Hille's credentials have been accumulated over a 30-year career that has taken him all around the shores of northern Europe and beyond. Graduating in 1993 in Holland, Hille took up a teaching appointment in the small Finnish coastal town of Kokkola, where he soon established contacts throughout the Nordics. That ...read more
Reading that this EP was partly the product of illness and a miscarriage, this collection of four and a bit songs under such a foreboding title might have been expected to be darker, especially considering Norway's reputation for such expression. Randi Tytingvåg, however, has an innate lightness in her voice and writing. Strange, in this case, that songs and singing of Richard Thompson come to mind. The songs are very strongly but simply constructed around their principal themes, the choruses repeating the emotion without overstating them, as in the painful Today Was Cancelled": I'm lost in the ...read more
Helge Lien is a contemporary Norwegian pianist principally known for work on his own and with his trio, for which he has been awarded Norway's 2008 DnBNor Musicians Award. Despite extensive exposure to the more mainstream music created with his trio, however, Lien has long been associated with more experimental projects, like the HERO duo, from 2005-6, with saxophonist Rolf-Erik Nystrøm; with Tri O'Trang, where Lien plays alongside saxophone, trumpet and/or tuba; and his more recent solo piano outing, Kattenslager (Ozella, 2012 ) This album of duets with singer Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer is not easy listening either. ...read more
The opening 30 seconds of Wild," the appropriately named first track on this exploration of the Time Continuum, belies the melody and the meter of the music that follows. The album consists of 10 more pieces, mainly from the pen of pianist Sid Hille and more than ably assisted by this thoroughly seamless Italo-Finnish foursome. Hille's credentials have been accumulated during a 30-year career that has taken him all around the shores of northern Europe and beyond. Graduating from Utrecht in Holland, Hille soon took up an appointment in the small Finnish coastal town of Kokkola where, ...read more
Dave Liebman with the Andy Emler TrioApril Jazz FestivalLouhisaliTapiolaHelsinki, FinlandApril 24, 2013 Saxophonist Dave Liebman is known to have played the length and breadth of the jazz world, on both sides of the Atlantic, in both hemispheres, and, having done so for nearly 50 years, it is impressive that he is still able to find novelty and innovation in every performance. As his record testifies, his name is synonymous with virtuosity and also humility, as he devotes himself to educational work in equal measure to performance. His ...read more
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