111

Pepa P: Saxigon

Matthew Wuethrich By

Sign in to view read count
What musical shapes have yet to be explored? Did the New Thing of the '60s contort jazz into all its possible forms, or was it merely formless as many critics have asserted? On Saxigon, Finnish saxophonist Pepa Päivinen and his quartet answer these questions with a thunderous NO. The title of the album, and most importantly the music, suggest a shape of jazz that marshals the raw fury and intense soundings of Coltrane, Ayler, Taylor and their progeny, yet retains a respect for structure, and (gasp!) recognizable, but not obvious, melody and harmony. Playing Edward Vesala's compositions, the quartet unleashes a sound rife with contradictions: urgency and introspection; restlessness and reflection; power and vulnerability; density and space.

Saxigon confounds the listener by hanging on every note and beat as if they were the last, while simultaneously suggesting a myriad of forms. On the opening title track, Paivinen begins with a playful extended intro, tossing out phrases that promise a jaunty blues at one moment, then toying with the idea of a rollick through Birdland. When the rest of the band strikes their first sounds, they evoke the roar of an avalanche crashing and tumbling to the ground. Finally the dust begins to clear, but nothing is resolved. The band seems to desire movement towards something, as Jimi Sumen's distorted scream of a solo builds in intensity, Vesala's rolling thunder drumming hints at powerful storm clouds waiting on the horizon, and at the moment one thinks they are either going to release the tension with a furious explosion or a graceful resolving chord, they do neither-the group falls dead silent. Slowly, Paivinen snakes in and begins another winding journey outwards.

All of the compositions on the album embody this sense of restlessness and reaching, but the band remains in complete control of their dynamics. Iro Haarla's spacious piano intro on "Secret Knowledge" sings us a lullaby, then brushes impressionistically. Päivinen blows glacial, mournful phrases on "Surface of the Well", then heads for the tortured stratosphere explored by Coltrane. On the intro of the same composition Haarla, now on harp, and Sumen gently dialogue until Sumen's razor-edged tone combines with Vesala's ominous bass drum to create a mounting sense of dread. Throughout the album, the band controls their spasms of melody and rhythm. Their control evidences that Vesala was composing with a specific concept in mind- a concept that searched for form while never becoming static.

Saxigon was Vesala's last recording, for he died two years later at the age of 54. Did Vesala sense his life was hanging so precariously on the edge? Unknowable, but Saxigon distills the essence of his Sound and Fury recordings into a small group, leaving behind a rich musical document that sketches out some new shapes for us to survey.


Track Listing: 1.Saxigon 2.Secret Knowledge 3.Almond Snow 4.Surface of the Well 5.Phenomena

Personnel: Pepa P

Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Strawberry Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Timeless Again" CD/LP/Track Review Timeless Again
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 11, 2016
Read "A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke" CD/LP/Track Review A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 9, 2016
Read "Parachute" CD/LP/Track Review Parachute
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 13, 2016
Read "The Music of Enrico Pieranunzi" CD/LP/Track Review The Music of Enrico Pieranunzi
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 23, 2016
Read "Better Than Anything" CD/LP/Track Review Better Than Anything
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 24, 2016
Read "The Lightning Bell" CD/LP/Track Review The Lightning Bell
by John Eyles
Published: July 19, 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!