Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

5

Verneri Pohjola & Black Motor: Rubidium

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Just going by the name, for those unfamiliar with the thriving Scandinavian jazz scene, a group calling itself Black Motor might be mistaken for a heavy metal rock band—a smash-and-crash set of drums, a blasting three-chord guitar and a wall-shaking bass wrapped around bellowed lyrics. But the real Black Motor, a drums/bass/saxophone outfit—joined on Rubidium by trumpeter Verneri Pohjola—is a Finish improvising jazz unit of the first order.

When a quartet consisting of two horns, bass and drums, with no chording instrument, is mentioned, comparisons with alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman's groundbreaking groups of the late fifties and early sixties are inevitable. Coleman pioneered free jazz. Black Motor, with the guest trumpeter, take the Coleman approach and give it quite an original twist. The opening "Waltz" blares into existence with some loose, almost drunken blowing from Pohjola and tenor saxophonist Sami Sippola. Pohjola has a laidback, lyrical, folk music-like approach to melody that contrasts nicely with Sippola's gruffness, rough edges and sheer power. For those more familiar with American free jazz, they sound something like a meeting between tenor saxophonist Rich Halley and trumpeter Ron Miles, blowing in front of the elastic and often tempestuous rhythm supplied by bassist Ville Rauhala and Simo Laihonen.

"Song of India," from the pen of Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, begins as a gentle lullaby with some sedate two-horn harmony. Then Sippola steps out front, his saxophone's initially robust tone gathering to a scream like that of a bandsaw ripping through a sheet of galvanized steel, giving way to trumpeter Pohjola's restrained, no- wasted-notes beauty.

The music, all seventy minutes of it, proves riveting, but the title tune has to be singled out as a highlight. Rubidium is a rare, silver-white metal that burns when it comes into contact with water. "Rubidium," the song, begins at a low, controlled burn, with a Pohjola solo that has a pinched tight intensity of Don Cherry's pocket trumpet forays on Coleman's classic discs. Then Sippola's saxophone turns things into a conflagration, as black clouds roil up from the Rauhala/Laihonen rhythm team. And somewhere in there, low in the mix, sort of like pianist Keith Jarrett's singing—after a trumpet/saxophone cyclone—someone gives voice to a wordless shout of unabashed and justifiable exuberance at what's just gone down.

And here's an unabashed and justifiable shout-out to a great seventy-plus minutes of improvised jazz from Finland.

Track Listing: WWaltz; Song of India; Vainila; Alma; Rubidium; Old Papa's Blues; Sax-O-Phun; Kynnyspuulla; The Last Janitsar.

Personnel: Vernerii Pohjola: trumpet; Sami Sippola: tenor and soprano saxophone; Ville Rauhala: double bass; Simo Laihonen: drums.

Title: Rubidium | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: TUM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Incidentals" CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 29, 2017
Read "Vol. 1 - This Is My Swamp" CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1 - This Is My Swamp
by Paul Naser
Published: September 29, 2017
Read "Wobbly Dance Flower" CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Dance Flower
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Avant-Garde Party Music" CD/LP/Track Review Avant-Garde Party Music
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "Point and Line" CD/LP/Track Review Point and Line
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Here Today" CD/LP/Track Review Here Today
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 26, 2017