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Kalle Kalima / Ed Schuller / Ernst Bier: Jazz Parasites: Very Early

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Parasites is an international trio that has been in existence for over five years. Drummer Ernst Bier and bassist Ed Schuller's long-fostered musical partnership is evident throughout, resulting in an airtight but loosely swinging rhythmic feel, no matter what the context. Similarly, guitarist Kalle Kalima demonstrates his diverse influences while never falling victim to them. He'll introduce a certain flexibility of vibrato or a delicate turn of phrase or change of dynamic that is beholden to none.

Kalima's subtle approach can be heard clearly on John Coltrane's "Wise One," which might be the album's finest offering. Check out the transition from metric freedom to the duple section to hear his subtle shadings, the long sustains, slight distortion, tasteful vibrato and hairpin bends that imbue each phrase. Coming out of a section containing glacial swells, crystal-clear harmonics and pure tones—stylistic traits associated with his teacher, Raoul Björkenheim—the timbral change is particularly effective. In this trio, no member is subservient, another group attribute demonstrated by this crucial musical episode. Schuller, who'd been demonstrating his formidable arco skills, begins to vamp, changing each repetition to suit Bier's accented and multihued percussives.

This entire review could be devoted to discussing this interpretation, so numerous are its changes in mood and color, but there's a lot more on offer. Highlights include the blues-inflected rock-solid groove of Kalima's "Parasites," where he demonstrates his subtle comping and fluid soloing. A cooler aesthetic opens "Very Early," as might be expected, but the results are never stagnant, largely due to Bier's intricate brushwork, Schuller's sensitive pizzicato and a particularly tasty solo. The trio breathes simultaneously as dynamics swell and fade, the varied and tasteful interaction keeping interest high.

The closer, a skewed updating of "Watermelon Man," finds Schuller offering another fine solo but flexing his rather small rap muscles. His faux-macho, heavily accented delivery and clichéd lyrics are what might happen if the butcher from the PBS show decided that a foray into hip hop was in order. "Who let the watermelon man out" indeed! It's cute though, which is all it was meant to be, and after a fantastic disc, such indulgences afford a chuckle.

Track Listing: Very Early; Johannes Kostaja; Falling Grace; Checker; Wise One; Parasites; Allen and Stanton; Watermelon Man.

Personnel: Kalle Kalima: guitar; Ed Schuller: bass; Ernst Bier: drums.

Title: Jazz Parasites: Very Early | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Jazzwerkstatt Berlin-brandenburg E.v.

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