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Hot Heros: Folkjazz from Finland

Anthony Shaw By

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From the tarnished keys of his favorite old tenor sax, through the scaberous tones of the same instrument to the tangle of his extensive rusty beard, Sami Sippola epitomizes the essence of a free jazz artist. So needless to say the most recent of the releases featuring this well established Finnish musician is another tour de force of urgency and angst, but with a local twist.

Accompanied by two very well-respected musicians from his own home town, the location of the renowned annual Tampere Jazz Happening, Sippola appears on this the second recording by his most recent ensemble Hot Heros, pursuing the same vein of freeform out-front jazz that he did earlier with Black Motor. Accompanied by the same bassist from his earlier trio, the ever robust Ville Rauhala, Sippola has exchanged one creative, extempore drummer for a second. Where Simo Laihonen would challenge Rauhala and Sippola with obdurate individuality, on this album they are accompanied by the wider church of Janne Tuomi's 25 years experience among the most progressive venues for European experimental music. 

The opening notes of this album, as well as the hand-painted watercolor of mysterious Finnish forestry, not to mention its title, suggest that this outing might be the product of three local off-duty lumberjacks. However three minutes into the opening "Iltalaulu (Evening Song)," it appears that the folksy melody was just a starting point for a meditational jaunt down an improvised forest track. And it continues in a singularly provoking vein.

The album is in a way a very local affair, with all tunes named in Finnish, often taking a traditional-sounding motif to start and pushing it far down a loose compositional track, led by Sippola's raucous sax in tight formation with his bandmates. Maybe it is more restrained than some of his work in Black Motor, but with Hot Heros Sippola is still eager to bend ears and push Finnish free-jazz forward. He is also keen to remind the world that 180 kilometers north of Helsinki is the town where the most Finnish of fusions are to be found.

Track Listing: Iltalaulu; Luonnon Ylistys; Mettäpiruja; Laivat Purjehtivat Avomerelle; Ameriikan-Suomalainen Hambo; Virsi Kaitajärveltä; Kamalka; Sillan Yli Salmen Taa.

Personnel: Sami Sippola: tenor sax; Ville Rauhala: double bass; Janne Tuomi: drums.

Title: Folkjazz from Finland | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Eclipse Music

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