Finnish multi-reedman Mikko Innanen (Delirium, TUMO) is not short on ideas, here on this bracing 2-CD set recorded in New York with the all-universe rhythm section of bassist William Parker (CD-1 only) and drummer Andrew Cyrille. A fresh voice on the Euro progressive jazz scene, Innanen has imparted his skills amid collaborations with jazz and improvising stalwarts, drummer Han Bennink, saxophonist Frank Gratkowski and a horde of other notables. But young artists often rise to the occasion when performing with the greats, which is an aspect that radiates on this diversely fabricated program, marked by the leader's exceptional technical and improvisational proficiencies.
Disc-one finds the trio engaging in a variety of dialogues and boundary slashing frameworks, alternating with spunky asymmetrical cadences, turbulent exchanges, free-bop and Innanen's succinct infusions of melody. And he provides a mini-clinic of sorts, when using the Indian clarinet on "Look for the Red Door," where he embeds super-fast flickering notes into a sprightly mystical domain atop Cyrille's undulating beats across the toms. Moreover, Innanen's variegated phrasings and husky intonations generate a great deal of interest. On many of these pieces, the trio brashly mixes it up as Parker's intense arco-lines often underscore or mimic the leader's wily and unpredictable mode of attack, regardless of what flights of fancy they're traversing.
True to form, the trio bobs, weaves, and puts matters into overdrive by signaling a state of emergency on the riotous "See You at 103." And excitement abounds as Innanen and Cyrille perform as a duo for a six-part improvisational encounter on CD-2, framing a potpourri of cleverly formulated workouts. For example, "Song 1" is frenetic and boasts a thorny bump and groove motif as Cyrille lowers the heat and rebuilds the theme with his snappy rim-shots and methodical buildups. Moving forward, the musicians delve into some nip and tuck exercises. But Innanen turns the tide by whistling above the drummer's shuffling beats, followed by his buzzing and tremolo-induced sax lines during "Song 5." Innanen's broad skill sets and imaginative concepts parallel an action-packed suspense thriller, rooted in an egalitarian group-centric outlook.
CD-1: Song for a New Decade; The End is a Beginning; Karl’s Castle; Look for the Red Door; A Morning, a Day, a Night; See You at 103; Blue in Nublu; Small and Big Steps. CD-2: Song 1; Song 2; Song 3; Song 4; Song 5; Song 6.
Mikko Innanen: alto and baritone saxophones, Indian clarinet, Uilleann chanter, nose flute, whistles, percussion; William Parker: double bass (CD-1 only); Andrew Cyrille: drums.