270

Kari Ikonen: Karikko

Matthew Wuethrich By

Sign in to view read count
Kari Ikonen: Karikko Jazz musicians have offered up as many definitions of "jazz composition" as there are notes in a John Coltrane solo. Yet the basic challenge remains: how to find the right balance between improvisation, the lifeblood of jazz, and composed structures. Kari Ikonen, on his Fiasko Records debut Karikko, artfully answers this challenge with a set of organic, graceful compositions in which one cannot tell where his composing ends and improvising begins. He uses spare instrumentation to create an expansive sound, then he uses a larger ensemble to paint subtle Impressionistic moods. Still, he retains a sense of dynamics, rhythmic intensity and vitality.

Ikonen, 29, has already garnered positive critical acceptance of his work. Karikko was given the Jazz-EMMA (Finland's Grammy) as the best Jazz album of 2001. In 2000, the Jazz Composer's Alliance recognized Ikonen's wind ensemble piece, "Luoto", with the Julius Hemphill Composition Award in the jazz orchestra category.

"Luoto" means "islet" in Finnish, and like its namesake, this short piece gently drifts alone, small but surrounded by spaciousness. "Luoto" seemingly materializes out of the mist, trombone and bass sax blowing long, low muted tones, converging with the fluttering flugelhorn and saxophones until merging into a hypnotizing whole for a few moments, then dissolving into the ether whence they came.

Ikonen composes structures that ebb and flow naturally, a characteristic which generates the always important mood of spontaneity. "Erakko" (Hermit) sprouts from Tony Elgland's pizzicato bass intro that slowly winds its way into a bowed duet with cello, forming a stem from which diverges Sonny Heinilä's impassioned tenor sax flowerings. Ikonen's hushed Rhodes commentaries on "Epäkkään kosto" belie Elgland and Mika Kallio's turbulent rhythmic underpinning, which occasionally swells to the surface only to smoothly recede again.

The players' detailed contributions give Ikonen's subtle compositions a unified sound, in both the small combo settings and larger ensembles. The horn section on the opening segment of "Oraakkeli" masterfully builds suspense with a fragmented ensemble phrase. Between the fragments Ikonen intersperses space for delicately brief guitar, trumpet and trombone extemporizations, heightening the sense of mystery. On "Yö kaaliossa" the band suggests a song fabric ready to disintegrate. The rhythm section fades in with a lazy swing that sometimes threatens to stumble to a halt. At moments the horns blow loud brassy big band figures, then slip into the background and make distant, flitting commentary. All the while Ikonen insinuates a strange subterranean layer with Moog flourishes slithering around the edges of melody and rhythm.

On Karikko Ikonen has defined jazz composition in his own terms, a definition that invigorates the jazz tradition. He has created a body of challenging, engaging work that rewards concentrated listening and promises more gifts for the future.


Track Listing: 1.Luoto 2.Kuru 3.Keijukki 4.Erakko 5.Unia 6.Ep

Personnel: Kari Ikonen-piano, Rhodes, moog, crotales Sonny Heinil

Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Fiasko Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Life and Other Transient Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Life and Other Transient Storms
by John Sharpe
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Happy Madness" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Madness
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Nihil Novi" CD/LP/Track Review Nihil Novi
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 30, 2016
Read "Meditations" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "Furiously Dreaming" CD/LP/Track Review Furiously Dreaming
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 1, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!