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Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima has been making records of a distinctly off the wall hue since he started his professional career over 15 years ago in Helsinki. This orientation took him to study in Berlin where he has been based for the last decade. Working mainly with German musicians, he has seen success in Europe both as a cutting edge instrumentalist and composer, but surprisingly this latest album sees him working specifically with covers of country classics. Focusing particularly on tunes from the cinema, as with his three earlier releases with the avant-garde K-18, Kalima here selected highly recognizable pieces from Stan Jones' Ghost Riders in the Sky to Marty Robbins' El Paso, and in addition to the title piece three by cinematographic composer Dimitri Tiomkin. With the exception of a march by Sibelius and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, the melodies are pure country to which Kalima applies his broad technique. In addition to his jazz scales and phrasing, Kalima here explores the fundamental sounds of those country forebears like Luther Perkins and Chet Atkins, varying the tone from delicate washes from his e-bow and a regular hair bow to regular downhome flat back picking, steel slide and exquisite use of the natural harmonics of his guitar. Support and inspiration is credited particularly to fellow Berlin resident but Los Angeles born bassist Greg Cohen, whose early listening habits coincided with Kalima's own first guitar teacher, instilling in them both a love of country sounds. Max Andrzejewski on drums brings a edge to the rhythm, while keeping his contributions mainly sparse. These skills enable the band to take a simple melody like that of Jack Thorpe's Little Joe the Wrangler and push it into a pulsating, bravura fusion romp. So although this album is a departure for the Kalima in terms of genre, it has been close to his musical nature from the beginning, and fits with his own legacy of edgy but unadorned guitarism.
Track Listing: Santy Anno; Ghost Riders In The Sky; Ballad Of The Alamo; Jääkärimarssi; Lännen Lokari; High Noon; El Paso; Hallelujah; Little Joe The Wrangler; Man Of Mystery; The High And The Mighty; The Green Leaves Of Summer; South Of The Border.
Personnel: Kalle Kalima: guitar; Greg Cohen: double bass;
Max Andrzejewski: drums.
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