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Approaching does not sound like jazz in the conventional sense. It does not swing, and it is often difficult, even impossible, to ascertain how much is composed and how much is improvised. Yet, this is ordered, thoughtful music, and it is pleasantly surprising how much there is to hear.
The recording proceeds from a very basic premise: Finnish percussionist Janne Tuomi, sitting at his drum kit, along with his pocket trumpet, flanked by other percussion instruments. There are no overdubs, and there are no edits. Tuomi builds each piece carefully, even meticulously. Sometimes, as on "Keskus," the music rises to a ringing climax, with Tuomi striking his gongs and cymbals. Most of these performances are in a rubato, or unmetered, tempo, what is often called "free" time, although Tuomi flirts with a recognizable pulse in the early moments of "Kohtaaminen."
Tuomi's pocket trumpet adds coloration by playing notes or sounds, blats and bleeps. There's a trumpet solo on "Contemplation" that sounds like Don Cherry on a bad day. In all other respects, however, "Contemplation" is a very successful performance. It opens with a plaintive melody played on what sounds like a balafon, a sort of West African xylophone. A slow tempo appears, the melody is heard again on pocket trumpet while other instruments shimmer and hum. Despite the relatively weak trumpet solo, "Contemplation" is quite beautiful.
Approaching isn't for everyone. One could accuse it of being a 35-minute drum solo with gongs and trumpet blats for variety. But that's really not the case with this adventurous, unique album.
Track Listing: Ofrenda, Approach, Keskus, Kohtaaminen, Contemplation.
Personnel: Janne Tuomi, drums, cymbals, percussion, tam-tams, opera gongs, changgo, pandeiro, raagini-pro, pocket trumpet, voice.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.