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Finnish saxophonist Mikko Innanen has hit upon a sure fire winner with his accompanists on Song For A New Decade. He has enlisted the services of a world class rhythm section in the person of bassist William Parker and drummer Andrew Cyrille, a combination which might show anyone in a good light. But Innanen possesses personality enough to thrive in their company and avoids the common pitfall of being overly reverent. In a sumptuous two disc package, well up to the standards anticipated from TUM Records, Innanen has brought together a 2010 studio session by the trio and matched it with a live meeting with Cyrille, recorded at Brooklyn's I-Beam in 2012.
On alto saxophone Innanen affects a keening tone, to which he adds broad vibrato for emotional weight, (notably as on the theme restatement on the plaintive "The End Is a Beginning"), and plays baritone with a similar vocalized edge. Generally he veers away from all out aural assault alternating boppish extemporization and folky lines blended with jazz inflections. Both Parker and Cyrille take care not to overpower, but furnish wholehearted interplay. Cyrille gives a drum masterclass. It's a pleasure to listen to his rumbling tuneful percussion in such well-captured clarity, while Parker's resonant soul stirring bass knits the parts together.
Innanen pens conventionally structured pieces in which his heads frame loose but natural sounding blowing from the trio. He gets matters off to a fine start with the dirge-like title track which opens into conversational exchange, illuminated by fizzing saxophone yelps which recall Evan Parker in their density and trajectory. However that similarity proves more of an exception than the rule. Innanen uses exotic instruments like Indian clarinet and nose flute on the collectively generated "Look for the Red Door," which ends with blues-tinged wailing over a rustic groove. Some of the most arresting passages on the first disc come on the final "Small and Big Steps" when a lurching alto/arco unison turns into free driving arco abrasion and intertwining alto saxophone. Parker turns in a tour de force with his bow, managing to both support and challenge simultaneously.
Without written material Innanen works from repeated motifs which he mutates and reconstructs. Their duet comprises a continuous largely spacious performance demarcated into six tracks for the benefit of radio DJs (Innanen puts a wry exclamation mark after that statement in the liners). It's all about communication and Cyrille is supremely responsive. In fact as sax/drum summits go it is remarkably restrained, only going into the red at points on "Song 4" as a claxon burst from Innanen's baritone announces a sequence of robust give and take, and "Song 6" where the reedman's assertive baritone riffing at the end suggests Ken Vandermark in its energy. Notwithstanding occasional treading water while waiting to hit on a worthwhile idea, interest and excitement remain the predominant suit.
Track Listing: 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.
Personnel: Mikko Innanen: alto and baritone saxophones, Indian clarinet, Uilleann chanter, nose flute, whistles, percussion; William Parker: double bass (CD-1 only); Andrew Cyrille: drums.
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock. It was love at first sight . This was when Blues, Soul / Gospel Style Music was becoming popular amongst kids as well as hip adults and featured Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner and The Payola era DJ's such as Alan Freed. Not many people remember that Freed's Rock n Roll Band of the 1950's was The Count Basie Orchestra featuring the Guy Singer Tony Bennett (Anthony DiBenedetto) who grew up in Astoria, NYNY right next to my Home Town Jackson Heights NYNY.
I was first exposed to jazz when I heard Red Prysock, Sam The Man Taylor & groups like the Chord Cats recording of Shaboom! It made the Crew Cuts look LAME! Now Jazz, Blues, Soul, Gospel was pretty much joined at the hip back then and I learned that the tasteful Music was featured on The African American Radio Stations which led me to DJ's Like The Bruce, Jocko Henderson, Tommy Dr. Jive Smalls and eventually Symphony Sid Torin, China Valles and Len Pace. This all took place during my high school years and the following years in NYNY and South Florida. I actually flew to Copenhagen Denmark in 1961 to see Stan Getz, (One of my top 3 heroes in the Music Bird, Pres & Getz not necessarily in that order). Sadly Getz had already left town and snuck back into NYNY where he played Birdland (Undoubtedly without a cabaret card due to smack addiction.) No problem for me as I worked for Pan American Airways at the time and enjoyed a 90% Employee Discount.
I met Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Lenny Tristano, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Frank Foster, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among many others over the years.
The best show I ever attended was The Randall's Island Jazz Festival NYNY 1960. Monk & Edward Ellington Kennedy AKA Duke, starred among numerous others. I can not recall the entire Line Up but Monk brought along his Hat Collection which at the time contained I believe he told me 33 or 35 international Hats which he periodically changed often during his Solos. I have been unable to find that roster for that particular festival and since it was long ago I remember mostly Monk & Duke. Paul Gonsalvas played his legendary trademark twenty something chorus solo in between Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue which was outstanding.
The first jazz record I bought was Firstly, my Bro George was / is a Marine and he sent home his wax collection of LP's from Camp Pendleton CA before deploying to Okinawa in 1956 I think. Bird, Getz, Mulligan & Baker, Erroll Garner, Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Jazz at Newport 1956 and many more. I fell in love with Bird, Getz and Jeru & Chet for openers. Pres to my mind takes the all time Tenor Award and Budo, Piano etc.! However I digress Getz Long Island Sound and every other Getz record that I could find that was 1957 by then and I snuck in to Birdland for the First of many times before I was 18 ( Legal drinking age back then) It wasn't until just after my 18th Birthday that I was carded much to the bouncers chagrin as he recognized me as having being an established customer by then.
My advice to new listeners: Listen to the Music and keep it in the forefront not the background. A Local Band Leader whose name escapes me once said to me Jerry you can make time for the chicks later the Music is in the now and is more important than chicks ever will be. He was correct!
Next see live performances and introduce yourself to the Players most of whom will be respectful. Some, however, are unapproachable such as when I saw Miles so many times but his obvious disdain for certain fans was evident and he always walked off the stage after soloing. (Eddie Jefferson sang words to So What that so indicated this)!