Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

35

Kallio Slaaki: Helsinki, Finland, April 12, 2012

Kallio Slaaki: Helsinki, Finland, April 12, 2012
Anthony Shaw By

Sign in to view read count
Kallio Slaaki
Kanneltalo
Helsinki, Finland
April 12, 2012

In spring 1973 the Prince of Psychedelia, Daevid Allen, invited his adulatory and, quite likely, addlepated audience to follow his band Gong as they ventured on their journey "Down the Oily Way," a euphemism for a trip as mystical as it was musical. In spring 2012 the diminutive and somber looking Mika Kallio invited his audience to follow him and his trio—and a plethora of gongs—along an equally variegated and often even more humorous path than any 1970s psychedelic musician could have imagined.

With his modest stature and bald pate, Kallio bears as little resemblance to Allen physiologically as one could imagine. He is known in his homeland as a percussionist with a preference for the abstract, if not the arcane, popping up alongside contemporary and established artists from Mika Innanen to Otto Donner, but is similar to Allen in his clear preference for the eclectic and experimental. With the trio Kallio Slaaki (roughly translated as Kallio's Clout) he also incorporates the same sense of absolutely dedicated fun that earned the shambling, surrealistically attired Gong collective their reputation 40 years earlier. Kallio aims for a similar sense of humorous detachment from the burdens of the everyday world and achieves it with the help of only two associates—both percussionists, and both male, too.

Their concert in the Helsinki suburb of Kannelmäki attracted a broad swathe of listeners— from the typical grey-bearded aficionados, to a handful of pre-teens inspired by parents to witness a greater quantity of drumming than they could expect at the heaviest of rock or metal gigs. Admittedly, there were some begrudging whispers, but the evening flowed with a range of music, from the ultimately sublime to that surfeit of rhythm the youngsters had hoped for. Apart from the one cover of the evening, Pierre Favre's "Prism," Kallio's role as composer and conductor was clear, leading melodic lines with his array of over 20 tuned musical gongs, flagging changes with colored cue cards and semaphore-like waves of his bow, like a bedraggled baton. Within this triad of percussive males, Kallio plays a slightly nerdish role, often in the shadow of his two more conventionally inclined, and archetypically-muscled colleagues. Opposite him and behind his own full kit sat the tall, sturdy figure of Mikko Hassinen, equipped with a similar array of high hats and cymbals, as well as a row of well-weathered tubular bells. Like his leader, Hassinen has also played with many in the Finnish nu-jazz scene, as well as holding a permanent position in Finland's best big band, the UMO Orchestra.

However, central to the earnestness to the left and the force to the right, countering Kallio's gnomic patterning and rattling, was the compact and excellently expressive style of performance from Anssi Nykänen. With a background rooted more in rock or pop than either other drummer, Nykänen played with equal concentration, eyes shut and head thrown back, and with much more expression of obvious pleasure. Behind a bass drum twice the diameter of Kallio's, his kit was the simplest of the three but was played with more humor than the others' combined. This is not to decry the intention or performance of the others at all, since it was the mixed seriousness of intent and lightness of execution that made this evening of pure percussion such a pleasure to experience.

The majority of pieces relied heavily on Kallio's array of over 20 tuned Gamelan-styled gongs, as he picked out lines of melody but repeatedly threw back hooks or lines of rhythm that integrated the pieces into their separate identities. There was much build and release, crescendo and diminuendo, but overriding all was a sense of humor that meant anything could be expected—resounding rolls, sudden non-rhythmic stabs and shocks, as well as some all-but-inaudible air-whisking with Nykänen's flashing wire brushes. And as with any spectacle or circus show, all was performed with an intensity and a great sense of fun.

Photo Credit

Heikki Tuuli

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Diane Schuur at Birdland Live Reviews Diane Schuur at Birdland
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront Live Reviews Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Live Reviews Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden" Live Reviews 38th International Jazzfestival Saalfelden
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "The Comet Is Coming at Black Box" Live Reviews The Comet Is Coming at Black Box
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "John Beasley’s Monk’estra At SFJAZZ" Live Reviews John Beasley’s Monk’estra At SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: November 12, 2017
Read "Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "John Handy Tribute At SFJAZZ" Live Reviews John Handy Tribute At SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: January 30, 2017

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!

Please support out sponsor