340

Kalle Kalima and his Dance Suite for Domesticated Animals, Helsinki

Anthony Shaw By

Sign in to view read count
UMO Jazz Orchestra and Kalle Kalima
Korjaamo, Helsinki
September 25, 2009

When a guitarist attempts to compose for big band, there's an expectation of strong rhythmic motifs, but when the musician concerned is as suffused in contemporary idioms as is Kalle Kalima one gets much more. The big band in question is Finland's best (and only fulltime) brass ensemble in the country, the UMO Jazz Orchestra of Helsinki playing here under Kari Heinilä.


The setting for the show was instrumental in as much as it is the latest and largest multiple art center in the country's capital, hosting experimental theater, installations, rock concerts and more in the converted tram workshops, still sharing its premises with the current maintenance sheds for the city's rolling stock. Kalima himself seems equally at home sharing the stage with a big band as with smaller operational units, like the one with which he won the New German Jazz Award in 2008—Klima Kalima. In his work with this and his other smaller outfits, Kalima has earned something of a contrasting reputation for the darkness of his compositions combined with a lightness of touch and intention.


In this concert with extended accompanists, Kalima was obliged to pull out all the stops of his extensive contemporary electric technique, and used the occasion to delve into the nether world of a modern brass ensemble's soundscape. This included vocalizations among varying sections of the orchestra, occasional blowing and sucking on or around their instruments, as well as playing to the full range of the players' repertoire. Hence the excitement of listening to a seasoned selection of the country's best modern instrumentalists playing at the height of their own abilities was matched by the replete spectrum of sounds of an experimental guitarist whose own palette is in no way confined by technique. Kalima's sound is essentially delicate, often almost acoustic in the vicinity of Derek Bailey or maybe Bill Frisell, with an emphasis on phrasing and melody rather than timbre or volume. This enables the soloist to surprise the audience with his occasional sorties into the coarser regions of the instrument, which a more acerbic player like Frenchman Marc Ducret tends to miss.


Kalima's six pieces were collectively entitled Dance Suite for Domestic Animals, being part of a wider series of music at the art's center under the title Party in Art And Art in Party. Taking a near traumatic personal experience with farmyard creatures as his initial inspiration, Kalima's titles bear witness to his approach to the construction of the whole piece. Opening with "Mad Cow Limbo," then "Red Bull Tango" and concluding the first half with "Chicken Vindaloo," the music offered ample room for rigorous workouts by band soloists on alto-sax, clarinet, trumpet and tenor sax. The last section also included an extended contribution on tablas and congas from veteran percussionist Mongo Aaltonen, whose work has enlivened many local jazz and rock recordings over the years. Driving the rhythms in an Easterly direction brought yet another dimension to this thoroughly European musical event.



The concluding section included "Stock Market Crash on the Planet Boo Boo," "Eternal Unification of Two Guitar Cables," and "XL Swing with Fries." Here again were solid rhythms, glimpses of melody and in the second piece a hypnotic tranquility built between Kalima's guitar solo and band drummer Markus Ketola, underlining the value of sparseness among large agglomeration of musicians. Kalima reveals that he has absorbed a wealth of influences over his 35 years, citing particularly Frank Zappa, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Mingus and Ligeti, not to mention his former local mentors and composers, bassist Teppo Hauta-Aho and guitarist Raoul Björkenheim. With a palette encompassing such variety it is truly inspiring to listen to a musician who has expanded his own resources into a composer's ample toolkit, and yet still retains his individual touch and style. Keep it up Kalle!


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Panama Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton At UCD Mondavi Center" Live Reviews Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton At UCD Mondavi Center
by Walter Atkins
Published: February 27, 2016
Read "Teresa Salgueiro at the Bitola World Music Festival" Live Reviews Teresa Salgueiro at the Bitola World Music Festival
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 9, 2016
Read "Jazztopad 2016, Part 1" Live Reviews Jazztopad 2016, Part 1
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina" Live Reviews Houston Person at Kiawah Island, South Carolina
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 10, 2017
Read "Brian Charette/Jim Alfredson Organ Duo at Nighttown" Live Reviews Brian Charette/Jim Alfredson Organ Duo at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!