112

KSJazz: Jarmo Savolainen, Nordic Trinity & Chris Berger

By

Sign in to view read count








Jarmo Savolainen
Songs for Trio
KSJazz
2006


Nordic Trinity
Wonders Never Cease
KSJazz
2006


Chris Berger
Conversations
KSJazz
2007




These three recent releases from Finnish drummer Klaus Suonsaari's KSJazz label highlight the enterprise's diversity while presenting some very fine music in clear and freshly present sound.

While not quite as radical as the material on another Finnish label like TUM, KSJazz' repertoire is never less than interesting, often at a deep structural level. Jarmo Savolainen's newest trio disc Songs for Trio, to cite one example, functions as a kind of suite. The "song series, seemingly derived from similar musical material, moves effortlessly from the tonal to the pan-tonal and back, Andrew Hill and Herbie Nichols serving as obvious influences. "The Other Side of the Coin , with its six-note repeating figure and temporally suspended quasi-Orientalist timbral trappings, speaks to an entirely different aesthetic, yet Savolainen's playing remains somehow wonderfully 'inside'. Not so for the clusteral "Spider Ballad , the other players joining him in the vicinity of Saturn. Bassist Ulf Krokfors and drummer Markky Ounaskari are extremely sympathetic throughout, the former providing some breathtaking melodies, especially on "Ambiguous Song . The great playing and constantly shifting material makes for a 'mixed bag' disc, in the best sense of the phrase.

Nordic Trinity exists in a similar sphere. The title track from Wonders Never Cease is one of those slow and nostalgically gorgeous tableaux that Allen Holdsworth might craft, but guitarist Mikko Iivanainen's playing is imbued with even more subtlety; he bends, swells and suddenly stops notes at the most microscopic level, as if Jeff Beck had dedicated himself exclusively to jazz over the past 30 years. Even more ethereally timeless is the playing of saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen, whose work is sorely neglected in this country. His playing employs the elastic vibrato and smooth rich tone associated with so many contemporary players and it's shocking to realize that he's a contemporary of Albert Ayler! Shocking, that is, until he blows free, as on the astonishing "Autumn Dance , as drums (Suonsaari) and guitar lend Mahavishnu Orchestra support to Aaltonen's Coltrane impressions. Much of the material is dreamy, ballad chords melting into each other as tempos stretch, loosen and tighten up again in a fog of sinewy saxophone and soft-edged guitar.

To say that bassist Chris Berger's debut offering Conversations is the straightest of this crop of releases is no pejorative. Indeed, his playing bears a remarkable resemblance to Krokfors' own studies in microtonal inflection, as the introduction to "Waltz for Tess makes plain. The compositions here are unapologetically retrovisionary, the title track a thoughtful foray into post-bop chromaticism. The playing is top-drawer, the irrepressible and always vibrant Jeff "Tain Watts bringing expected precision and vigor to "With the Clanging of Cymbals and to the sextet performance of the sophisticatedly lazy "Bluetain . These are just three of the many great jazz releases coming from KSJazz and from Finland in general, always a scene well worth in-depth exploration.


Tracks and Personnel

Songs for Trio

Tracks: What Future Will Bring; Spider Ballad; Maroc; Muted Song; Turning; Other Side of the Coin; Ambiguous Song; Past and Present; Our Side; Aspiring Song; Too Bad; Way Out.

Personnel: Jarmo Savolainen: piano; Uffe Krokfors: bass; Markku Ounaskari: drums.

Wonders Never Cease

Tracks: Wonders Never Cease; Offering; Passion; Autumn Dance; All My Yesterdays; Sininen Uni; Noble's Dream; Snarling Dogs; Peace of Mind.

Personnel: Juhani Aaltonen: tenor saxophone; Mikko Iivanainen: guitar; Klaus Suonsaari: drums, gong.

Conversations

Tracks: Conversations; Ballad For Dominique; New Places, New Faces; Little D's Dance; Lost in 1506; Waltz for Tess; With the Clanging of Cymbals; Where or When; Blutain.

Personnel: Chris Berger: bass; Steve Wilson: alto and soprano saxophones; David Budway: piano; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums; Loston Harris: piano; Marcus Parsley: trumpet; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone.


Shop

More Articles

Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017
Read 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon" Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Marc Copland: Zenith and Haunted Heart" Multiple Reviews Marc Copland: Zenith and Haunted Heart
by John Ephland
Published: March 11, 2016
Read "Two  contrasting releases from Stefan Thut" Multiple Reviews Two contrasting releases from Stefan Thut
by John Eyles
Published: March 23, 2016
Read "Albert We Hardly Knew Ye" Multiple Reviews Albert We Hardly Knew Ye
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 3, 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!