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Delirium, A Finnish/Danish quartet, has rekindled the joy of creating improvisation-based music with a verve, power and humor sometimes lost in today's drive for "progress". European free jazz players more frequently remember that freedom is meant to be enjoyed, hence the music often sounds more free-wheeling and most importantly, fun. The music here was captured in a single day's recording session made for the Finnish Broadcasting Company. The band plays loosely and sounds relaxed, enjoying the dialogue of the moment.
Delirium harks back to Ornette Coleman's original quartet in line-up and approach to form. With these building blocks they build an environment where it feels that anything can happen. "1334" begins with Stefan Pasborg rustling around on his drum kit, exploring what sounds it can make. The tune flows effortlessly into a simple, repeated head arrangement from Mikko Innanen on alto sax and Kasper Tranberg on cornet. Suddenly Jonas Westergaard takes the dynamics up a notch with a forceful, exuberant bass line. This course promises a bristling and energetic workout, but Innanen and Tranberg move into a restless, more playful mood, coaxing breathy call and response lines from their horns while the rhythm section colors in the empty spaces.
Coleman's open-ended harmolodic approach shows as an obvious influence, especially on "1998" and "Turku Boogie". Both tunes have catchy, bluesy head melodies backed by a tight groove from the rhythm section. Innanen and Tranberg crawl all over each other's lines, weaving in and out of the melody, going where the moment takes them. But they use Coleman's ideas only as a mood to inspire imagination, not as a style to be shackled to. The music on Delirium comes across as conversations more than as songs. In fact, on "Lux" Tranberg sings along with Innanen, with Pasborg and Westergaard on bowed bass providing ironic side commentary.
The quartet displays strong unity throughout the album, with everyone contributing to the overwhelming spontaneity. Innanen constantly shows his inventive spirit. He has a strong blues foundation that serves to ground and clarify his more adventurous ideas. Here he plays mostly alto sax, but his soprano and baritone playing do not want for imagination either (See "Nuijamiehet" for more of his fresh work on those instruments). Tranberg punctuates with wry interjections and projects an air of humbleness. Pasborg and Westergaard never overpower while laying down their elastic rhythms.
This air of flexibility, fun and togetherness probably made this album a joy to make, and it is certainly a joy to listen to. Delirium works like a late-night discussion between friends, where spirits are high and all ideas are encouraged and debated. We are privileged to have a chance to listen in.
Track Listing: 1.1998 2.1334 3.Ensin oli apina
4.Turku Boogie 5.Delirium tremens 6.Lux
7.Are We Finished?
Personnel: Mikko Innanen, soprano, alto and baritone saxophone
Kasper Tranberg, cornet, voice
Jonas Westergaard, double bass
Stefan Pasborg, drums
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.