Tampere Jazz Happening
October 30November 2, 2014
On the way from the airport to the city of Tampere you pass by Nokia, situated fifteen kilometres west of Tampere, the Scandinavian city famous for its gumboots and cables, and famous for its mobile phones. For a while 'Nokia' was synonymous with mobile phone. When you arrive in Tampere you can immediately recognize the industrial character and history of the town. The Finnish territories were industrial late-bloomers but when the industrial revolution started, Tampere was at its centre. The city rapidly grew into a Finnish Manchester, hence its nickname Manse, and even now the term Manserock referring to the local style of rock music. Tampere
Tampere is located between two lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi, differing in level by 18 meters. Tammerkoski, the rapids connecting them, have been an important power source throughout history and are currently used to generate electricity. Today the city has a population of 222,000, while the greater area is home to approximately 364,000 people. As a centre of heavy industrialization, technological development was accompanied by severe social struggle. The worker unions were strong here and in 1905 the Bolshevikhs even held a conference in Tampere's workers' house. In 1917, after the Russian October Revolution, Finland gained its independence as Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov aka Lenin had promised in 1905. In the same year Tampere was at the centre of a bloody Finnish civil war that left its traces in the town. The days of heavy industrialization have gone and a new phase of urbanization as in other parts of Europe has started. Part of that phase is the redefinition of buildings (and many institutions) of that era. In the industrial past, education and arts in Tampere were not only highly developed, but also had their very own character and profile compared to that of (the capital) Helsinki. Tampere has a more leftist, progressively forward pushing character and image. That also goes for music, theatre and other art forms. Jazz Happening
The 33rd annual Tampere Jazz Happening played three venues: Telakka, a smaller workshop of an old shipbuilding company where the groups from Finland played their concerts, and two venues at the old Customs House with the Tullikamarin Pakkahuone, the big hall of the Customs House, and a smaller club section called Klubi. The festival offered 24 concerts within 4 days with groups from Norway and Sweden (6), Great Britain (3), the Netherlands (2), the US (3), India (1), Mali (1), and Finland (7).
Opening on the first festival night, Telakka presented an exhibition of photographs of Jan Granlie, former chief editor for Norwegian magazine Jazznytt
. The exhibition's photographs were taken from Granlie's recent book "My Favourite ThingsJazz Photos 20042014." The photos not only present special, recognizable, and surprising views, but also tell a story for insiders as well as for curious visitors of a number of European festivals. The collection is likely to trigger a lot of smiles in the first group and wonder and questions in the second. Among the documented festivals are Bodø, Clusone, Hagenfesten, Jazzkar Tallinn, Kongsberg, Moers Festival, Molde, Nattjazz Bergen, Oslo, Stockholm, Polarjazz Svalbard, Punkt Festival, Umeå, and Vossa. Tampere is especially well-documented in its rich variety of music through the years.
A press conference was held prior to the full day programmes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Festival press conferences can be pretty redundant and boring, but Tampere presented something that was worthwhile, quite informative, useful, and motivating. Japanese trumpeter Takuyo Kuroda from Brooklyn, the Finnish drummers Mikko Hassinen and Teppo Mäkynen
, and two British artists, pianist Django Bates
and dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, were interviewed in a way that gave them a good opportunity to tell something interesting about their work and their approachan excellent preparation! Thursday
The festival opened on Thursday night at the club (Klubi) of the old Customs House, with British band Partisans and Norwegian power band Elephant 9 with Swedish guitar man Reine Fiske. Partisans which is Phil Robson
(g), Julian Siegel
(reeds), Thaddeus Kelly
(b) and Gene Calderazzo
(dr) unbelievably have been playing for almost 20 years straight now and can be considered the instigators and motor of a new jazz era in Great Britain. The band works in a tight format of its own, having absorbed and redefined essential elements of electric jazz and rock idioms of its forerunners. Elephant 9 is a younger band tapping into the same vessel, but as a heavily sprawling jam band build around the organ of Ståle Storløkken
. It was a well-chosen sequencing considering the audience was mainly made up of young people. Partisans, highly dynamic and stirring, led its audience along clear lines of demarcation and progression into the jam to come. Partisans familiarized them with its sharp and sparkling idiom. Elephant 9with the heavy rhythm section formed by bassist Nikolai Eilertsen
and drummer Torstein Lofthus
took some time to warm up before going into overdrive, sprawling and exploding. It was the tension built up from the high predictability and suspension the band was exploiting. It was utmost thrilling to experience how the band found its way to circumvent and suspend the moment of sheer explosion, again and again, and to see the band complete quite a wild ride with a long endingeven for this band's standards. Maybe it was the Tampere factor. Friday
The second and third day had two slightly overlapping streams of concerts, one at the bigger hall of the old Customs House, and one at Telakka, a quiet, intimate space in an old shipbuilding workplace where all bands from Finland would be performing.
The Yrjö Award, presented by the Finnish Jazz Federation, is the most prestigious award in Finnish jazz music and the biggest acknowledgement a jazz musician can receive for his or her work in Finland. This year it was presented at Tampere Jazz Happening. It was awarded to drummer Markku Ounaskari
. The ceremony was followed by a short concert by Ounaskari in duo with reedist Jone Takamäki.
The material Yrjö prize is a work of art, made by a local artist from the city where the Jazzpäivät takes place in that particular yearthis year the sculpture "Kaksi vasenta kättä ja yksi oikea" ("Two left hands and one right") by Anssi Kasitonni: "A bad drummer has two left hands, an ok drummer has one left and one right hand, and an excellent drummer has two left hands and one right hand." The Varjo-Yrjö, a shadow Yrjö, granted by Finnish Broadcasting Company Yleisradio, was given to the Turku-based jazz society Flame Jazz association for uplifting the jazz culture in the city. Jussi Fredriksson received the decoration. In addition, the Jazz Federation presented the Andania Award for his jazz oeuvre to Juha Söder, former long-standing Chairman of the Federation, and a long-term powerhouse in Finnish jazz business and education.
Ubiquitous The Thing (Mats Gustafsson
, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten
, Paal Nilssen-Love
)is presently one of the tightest groups, with the sharpest profile, and most distinctive identity in the European scene. Audiences know what to expect and can rely on it. A key characteristic of the group are its berserk sound storms that are based on a highly repetitive, nearly formulaic, and almost ritualistic approach, emerging from energy outbursts and wild rushes with the impetus and urge to break through sound barriers and reach some stronger or deeper reality. Operating along this line The Thing's opener Theme For Alfie
had some great breaks and swirling pieces of rock. They went on in full blast, finishing with a stretched rendition of Don Cherry
's "Golden Heart." Not only jazz has travelled long distances around the world, fusing into other cultures' music. So did the Vikings more than a thousand years ago. The Thing's Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, who comes from the nearby Swedish town of Umeåas an introduction to its second piece "Walhalla in Mississippi"alluded to both parties' possible meeting on the banks of the Mississippi river in Memphis, Tennessee. With well-played, weighty seriousness, Gustafsson fabulated about his distant ancestors in the Caribbean delta, referring to the recent "news" (World News Daily Report
) on the unearthed remains of a Viking knarr boat in the Mississippi that suggests the Norse pushed their exploration of America a lot further than historians previously thought. A story told in typical mysterious and mystical jazz style. The Thing played a strong, pretty varied, and enjoyable set.
Young, Kobe born trumpeter Takuya Kuroda from New York created a contrast with his lighter approach of soul jazz based music. In recent years Kuroda has been involved in the band of successful singer José James and this year made a promising Blue Note debut himself with the album Rising Son, recorded with James' band of pianist Kris Bowers
, bassist Solomon Dorsey
, drummer Nate Smith
, and outstanding, young trombonist Corey King
. Tampere saw him with his touring band of Takeshi Ohbayashi
on keyboards, Rashaan Carter
on electric bass-guitar, Adam Jackson
on drums, and trombonist Corey King from the original line-up of the recording. The album's sound with its spacy, elastically rebounding hip hop beats, undercurrent murmuring bass lines, and two warm, brilliant horns with an interplay of catchy melodies were anything but equalled during the live setting. The horns did their great work, but were impeded rather than carried and propelled by the rhythm section with a sound too thick, having a grinding effect on the music.
From an European point of view, the Indian subcontinent, with its highly developed musical tradition, lies between Kobe in Japan, and Brooklyn in North America. The Indian tradition was made accessible and highly enjoyable in Tampere by great master musician Zakir Hussain
, joined by his colourful troupe of two-sided stick drums (Deepak Bhatt, Vijay S. Chavan), frame-drum (Abbos Kosimov), sarangi string instrument (Sabir Khan), and bansuri bamboo flute (Rakesh Chaurasia, nephew of the famous Hariprasad Chaurasia). Zakir Hussain's deeply rooted, multi-stylistic versatility enables him to take various audiences on a journey spiced with playful allusions to their own musical habits. In Tampere he thereby not only bridged differing cultures of listening and experiencing sounds, but also got his audience deeper into the circles of Indian music, which resulted in a magical and musical celebration full of joy and light. Finnish performances at Telakka
The festival had two nights with Finnish acts at Telakka. The first night: a percussion trio called Kallio Slaaki, a quintet lead by bassist Jori Huhtala
, and an almost exotic octet of remarkable drummer Teppo Mäkynen
, called Teddy's West Coasters. Telakka is a quiet, intimate place with a wooden interior, long tables, and an almost domestic, relaxed atmosphere. It was packed both evenings with an expectant audience in a good mood.
Kallio Slaaki is a threesome of top-class Finnish drummers, filling the stage with their three drum sets, and an assortment of percussion instruments. Last year, Mika Kallio
, Mikko Hassinen, and Anssi Nykänen released their debut album, Polymania for Percussion
(Fiasko Records, 2013) on vinyl. Visually and sonically the performance resembled some zealously tinkering mine-workers in their subterranean small work space. They were conjuring some dwarfish magic by producing a lot of good sounds full of appealing coherences but did not turn it all convincingly into a captivating narrative.
Bassist Jori Huhtala
(1984) is a member of Raoul Björkenheim
's Ecstasy with saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen
and drummer Markku Ounaskari, as well as the Big Blue quartet with Jorma Kalevi Louhivuori
on trumpet, Antti Kujanpää
on piano, and Joonas Leppänen
on drums. The first album of his quintet, featuring saxophonists Mikko Innanen and Joakim Berghäll
, pianist Aki Rissanen
, and drummer Ville Pynssi, will be released on the Fredriksson Label in early 2015. For this concert young pianist Artturi Rönkä was subbing for much sought-after Aki Rissanen and he proved to be a notable talent. The group played a highly respectable set with lucid arrangements and a remarkable connection of melodics in a boppish framework. Teppo Mäkynen (1974) is an elegant drummer and a remarkable musician on the Finnish scene. His octet Teddy's West Coaster with Jukka Perko (as), Ville Vannemaa, Jukka Eskola, Mikko Karjalainen (tr), Heikki Tuhkanen (tromb), Miika Jämsä (tuba), and Ville Herrala (b) has an almost exotic appeal. Mäkynen built a professional identity as a drummer, a dj, a bandleader, and a producer. His electronic qualities were first heard in guitarist Jarmo Saari's Reuna where Mäkynen both scratched and played the drums. As a dj he performed with the band So So by and with the Don Johnson Big Band. Mäkynen worked as a dj as Teddy Rok and with Teddy Rok Seven as a band. Mäkynen also took part in Nuspirit Helsinki and later on in The Five Corners Quintet. The Five Corners Quintet performed classic groove jazz from the 1950s and 1960s. Their debut album (2005) sold more than 40,000 copies in 1,5 years. Now he has arrived at 1950s and 1960s West Coast Jazz with his new octet where he---like his Copenhagen colleague Snorre Kirk
is reviving the virtues of old swing drummers as Jimmy Crawford
from Memphis, Tennessee. It was quite wondrous to experience the elegant sound and swing of the group and see how highly infectious and joyful it worked for the young audience packed in the Telakka venue. The audience and octet became a synched organism.
The second night brought three Finnish configurations: Saxophonist Esa Pietilä's Liberty Ship, the trio of guitarist Teemu Viinikainen
, and the new electronic group of drummer Mikko Hassinen.
Saxophonist Esa Pietilä is an avid sailor and his Liberty Ship a Finnish super group gathering much sought-after pianist Aki Rissanen, bassist Antti Lotjonen
and internationally well-known drummer Olavi Louhivuori
(he plays in groups of Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen
and the Scandinavian quintet of Polish trumpet legend Tomasz Stanko). The quartet formed in 2012 navigates the waters of free jazz and improvised music, moving along unexplored passages of their own choice and challenge. One year ago the group released its double album Approaching
on the profiled Edition label, with a collection of 'loose compositions' in the first part, and a completely improvised second part. It indicates a great potential of music created 'in the moment,' that bore out at their Telakka set in a fully captivating way. The musicians set their sails high, mastered the falling winds, and opened vivid panoramas.
Teemu Viinikainen Trio played an energetic as well as spacy and grounded set with a classical jazz guitar sound at the centre. It is a strong versatile trio (witness its recent album Hit it!
(Prophone Records, 2014). Guitarist Teemu Viinikainen is a rock-solid musician with an impressive discography and range of participation in the Finnish scene, who has already received some international appreciation. The trio's drummer Mikko Kallio, playing his personalized drum kit, participated in two other ensembles at the festival (percussion trio Kallio Slaaki and Mikko Innanen 10+) as did strikingly robust bassist Ville Herrala
(Teddy's Westcoasters and Mikko Innanen 10+). Elektro GT is a new group of drummer Mikko Hassinen, with a heavy load of electronics, gathering trumpeter Jorma Kalevi Louhivuori
, the ubiquitous Aki Rissanen on keyboards, guitarist Varre Vartiainen, and bassist Lauri Porra. They served a deliciously spiced and uplifting electronic soup at Telakka, also proven by its recent self-titled debut album on Texicalli Records. Saturday
The afternoon presented three groups: the British Sons of Kemet, the all-Norwegian quartet of saxophonist Karl Seglem
and the Beloved trio of British pianist Django Bates. Reedist Shabaka Hutchings
's band Sons of Kemet with two drummers, Mark Sanders and Sebastian Rochford
, and Chris Barrett as a tuba player. Sons Of Kemet's debut album Burn
(Proper, 2013), with Oren Marshall on tuba and Tom Skinner as first drummer, draws from the musical Bermuda Triangle that stretches from Ethiopia to New Orleans (Hutchings among others has played in the Heliocentrics and The Step Ahead Band of Mulato Astatke). The Nile and the Caribbean, the Jamaican Nyabinghi drumming, and the Jamaican musicians Count Ossie and Cedric 'Im' Brooks all are references and sources of its music. Sons Of Kemet has been plagued by frequent line-up changes that impeded the development of their live rendition after a brilliant start. Drummer Mark Sanders was an adequate and strong choice for one of Kemet's drum chairs, but nonetheless the music remained a bit too uniform in the Walk Like An Egyptian mode.
Saxophonist Karl Seglem
is a long-standing, non-extravagant force in Norwegian music, who returned to his folk roots with his last album NyeSongar.no
(Ozella Music, 2013) which was recorded with the renowned Norwegian Eple trio of pianist Andreas Ulvo
, bassist Sigurd Hole, and drummer and visual artist Jonas Howden Sjøvaag. In Tampere, accomplished bassist Roger Arntzen
was subbing for Hole. Seglem and the group performed clearly focused and full of beauty, calmly working towards a wonderful apotheosis in the last piece with its overwhelming, melodic richness and colour. It light-heartedly led to deeper concentration.
Beloved /bee-love-it/ is a musical configuration of a special kind. Pianist Django Bates resorts to his earliest conscious influences: the music of Charlie Parker
. This early experience has been reworked together with two younger musicians, especially in terms of dynamics and melodic colour. The musical partnership with Danish drummer Peter Bruun and bassist Petter Eldh
was a result of finding them, by being ready and open on a deeper level, not by consciously searching and selecting. Bruun and Eldh struck a chord when Bates heard them playing by accident when passing their rehearsal room at the Rhythmical Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. Playing together unprepared confirmed his first impression of Bruun's impressionistic way of drumming and Eldh's drummer-like and percussionist way of bass playing combined with short melodic motifs. Their direct mutual rapport allowed them to focus on developing the dynamic finesses of the music. After that, and as a consequence of their first gig at Copenhagen Jazzhouse with Evan Parker
, a real piano trio became a fact. Nonetheless this configuration is primarily defined and perceived by the special musical approach and musical personalities, and not its format. It is exactly that what makes Beloved one of the best piano trios today.
The piano trio is the supreme discipline in jazz. Through rich possibilities, it functions as a strong filter sifting out those few who were and are able to set new standards. What matters is how the three instrumental vertices relate to each other dynamically, harmonically, and sound-wise, to build something coherent, in close dependency. Eventually, each shift at one vertex inevitably triggers shifts by the other two. Letting the song sing itself is at the core of the piano trio. Connecting a diversity of songs in a gripping way is the highest achievement.
Right from the start the trio's reworking of Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes" made clear, literally, how the wind blows. It was the dynamics of spreading the basic line and overtones, letting it unite or evade each other. This was elaborated very sophisticatedly in Parker pieces and their own compositions (among others "Donna Lee," "Sadness All The Way Down," "Star Eyes," "Pianist As Promised,"" Confirmation,"" Alicia") in lightning-fast, irregular movements and salmon leaps, thereby transcending the played notes. It was fascinating how all three musicians expanded the sound by their well-dosed own singing voices as well as special keyboard and kalimba ingredients. The tight conjunction and attuning of these characteristics, the intertwining of steady and elusive, dense and open, was just stunning and Beloved's appearance undoubtedly a highlight of the festival! Having experienced that, the richness of Parker's work, it also is a bit wondrous that Parker, who is considered one of the greats and a key jazz musician, is performed so little.
The night programme had again 4 contrasting shows to offer: Mathias Eick
5, ICP Orchestra, Bill Frisell's
Space Age Guitars, and Linton Kwesi Johnson together with the Dennis Bovell Dub Band.
The double drum quintet of Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick with pianist Andreas Ulvo, Audun Erlien
on electric bass guitar, and Gard Nilssen
and Torstein Lofthus
on drums, opened the evening part of the program. Ulvo already played with Karl Seglem that same day and Lofthus with Elephant 9 during the opening night of the festival. The double drums and electric bass empowered the chanting melodies, providing the right pressure and open space and saving them from becoming sweet. As ever it was a strong, joyful affair to be immersed in Eick's music played very loudly but with full dynamics nonetheless. It appeared to be last performance of the group with ubiquitous Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen (who had arrived in Tampere from Istanbul). As a thank-you and goodbye the group ended with its piece "Oslo" as a smoking flag.
The Instant Composers' Pool Orchestra (ICP) from Amsterdam has been around for quite a while. Founded in 1967 by pianist Misha Mengelberg
, reedist Willem Breuker
, and drummer Han Bennink
, it soon developed as Mengelberg's child whereas Breuker installed his Kollektief. Breuker passed away in 2010 and Mengelberg had to retreat from playing and traveling last year, whereas Bennink is in full action still. Its line-up has been quite stable during the last 15, 20 years: Michael Moore
(cl, as), Ab Baars
(cl, ts), Tobias Delius
(cl, ts), Wolter Wierbos
(tromb), Thomas Heberer
(cornet), Mary Oliver (vln, viola, voc), Tristan Honsinger
(vlc, voc), Ernst Glerum
(b), Han Bennink
(dr, voc). Now it is a new challenge for the present ICP instalment to go on with its still existing high potential, and to find its way and shape.
ICP's Tampere appearance was amazingly compact and vital. Starting from an energizing propelling and clearing Sun Ra cacophony, the orchestra rushed into and slid through Brook Bowman's "East Of The Sun, West of The Moon," also the title of their recent album and full of salutes and allusions to ICP's founding father. The bunch worked through "Rebus Knebus," "Een Beetje Zenuwachtig," "The Mooche," finishing with a great combo of Sean Bergin
"Lavoro" with Count Basie
's "Moten Swing," a kwela-imbued tribute to another Amsterdam musician who passed away recently. There was a lot of looseness and short spontaneous action, but heavy instant composing, no. Cellist Honsinger gave a sample of honsinging, hongesticulating, honjumping and honfalling ICP-conduction in "Een Beetje Zenuwachtig" ("A Bit Nervous"). Last but not least, clearly visible and clearly experienceable: Uri Caine
was at the piano (for the first time) fitting in effortlessly, heartfelt and driven by fun!
Guitarist Bill Frisell
played a lot of programs through the years and presented a brand new one, Guitar In The Space Age, at Tampere. This time it is not music influenced by or music for, but a revaluation or even celebration of the originals themselves. It is in fact a guitar duo program with Greg Leisz
, the high calibre rhythm section of Tony Scherr on bass guitar, and Kenny Wollesen
on drums. They play classics like "Turn, Turn, Turn," "Surfer Girl," "Rebel Rouser," "Reflections from the Moon" and also Ray Davis' "Tired Of Waiting For You," classics that ignited and influenced every youngster of that time who picked up a guitar to conquer the world with the new space ship sounds paradigmatically laid down in the piece "Telstar." "Telstar," written and produced in England by Joe Meek and performed by The Tornados, became a number one hit in Great Britain and the US in 1962. Frisell was 11 years old then. Telstar featured a Clavioline, a keyboard instrument with a distinctive electronic sound. The story of Joe Meek and his sound engineering is an interesting chapter of music culture as such.
Frisell presented no nostalgia show. He rendered the richly undulating sounds with his frolic smile, visible enjoyment, and mild understatement. As usual, Frisell did not load it semantically or symbolically. It was honest and almost like a good concert of classical repertoire. He presented it as a gift of pure music, music from the past he can strongly relate to. The reception was a bit mixed, maybe also depending on age, not really controversial but differing in degrees of interest and pleasure. It would be interesting to know how next generations will look back on the internet era 30 years from now.
Tampere Jazz Happening added a special touch to its programming by inviting legendary dub-poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and his equally legendary collaborator, the Dennis Bovell Dub Band. LKJ's poetry involves the recitation of his own verse in Jamaican Patois over dub-reggae, usually written in collaboration with renowned British reggae producer/artist Dennis Bovell. LKJ not only expresses his experiences as a British citizen of Jamaican descend. His poetry-music also formulates and fosters identity, alertness, and defense in a social-political perspective: 'all oppreshan can do is bring/ pashan to di heights of erupshan/ an songs af fire we will sing/ ... sen fi di riot squad quick/ cause wi runnin wile/ wi bittah like bile' (from "All Wi Doin is Defendin"). It is 'functional' music and verse of significance still grounded in and directly connected to everyday life of a social and ethnic groupa connection that is absent in greater parts of present popular music as well as in radical attitudes and approaches in music. Also in this festival environment the performance of both the band and LKJ had a differing cutting edge, serving as an important counter to mainstream media. The music felt independent and was gripping, the words sharply stating. LKF toasted with a calm, stoic, steadfast and incisive voice that cannot easily be removed, redirected or silencedan impressive performance. Sunday
The last day had four heavy bands: the big ensemble of Finnish saxophonist Mikko Innanen
, a Dutch-American double duo or quartet, the all American E-collective of Trumpeter Terence Blanchard
and Norwegian-Bulgarian Balkan bunch of Farmers Market.
For those not so familiar with the Finnish scene, the appearance of sax man Mikko Innanen's 10+ ensemble was nothing less than a revelation. The orchestra he gathered with a doubling of all instruments (plus himself as saxophonist) included twelve musicians from among the best of the Finnish jazz scene, offering a broad stylistic range and an energetic dynamism full of quick and surprising turns: saxophonists Mikko Innanen, Jussi Kannaste and Pauli Lyytinen, trumpeters Jukka Eskola
and Verneri Pohjola
, trombonists Jari Hongisto and Juho Viljanen, pianist Seppo Kantonen, bassists Ville Herrala and Eero Tikkanen, and the two drummers Joonas Riippa
and Mika Kallio. Mikko Innanen (1978) is one of Finland's most active, versatile, and prolific musicians. He was listed as a 'Rising Star' in the baritone saxophone category in this year's Down Beat
poll. Musically Innanen feels at home and is experienced in a great variety of styles and approaches.
The ensemble rendered a perplexing, gorgeous variety of 8 pieces, starting well-mannered and orderly while introducing its great sound, and finishing with a wild, relentless oompah ride dedicated to Vattenfall, one of Europe's major electricity generators and largest producer of heat. In between beautiful Ellingtonian glows, Harry Carney
-like excursions, Out of The Cool suspense, a dark and frightening funeral march, all with mighty soloing and a piano escapade boldly rushing through all desirable style areas with joyful ease. The ensemble could not only compete with the ICP orchestra that performed the day before, but was also a serious match for younger, larger top-class ensembles in Europe.
Tampere even dared to program a unit unknown until then: the world premiere of Perch Hen Brock & Rain, a quartet formed by two highly profiled duos: reed player Ab Baars
and viola player Ig Henneman
from Amsterdam, and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock
together with drummer Tom Rainey
from New York. It resulted in a richly instrumented line-up with clarinet, shakuhachi, tenor and soprano saxophone, viola, and drums. Without a doubt a promising potential to look forward to. Doubling the way of playing of one duo would not make so much sense and would not work (out) productively. These four musicians had to find a way to relate to each other by playing in a way that gave birth to something new. Ab Baars, who frequently had an initiating role, exposed his 'abs,' producing sounds as entities in their own right, in a space within a space. These sounds were distinct and pure gestalts, demanding nothing but challenging plenty. The audience was treated to a lot of mutual mirroring, sound expansion and layering, confluence, (de)cresecendosan intricate game with its very own poetics, augmented by some Messiaen traces. This modus operandi culminated in the last piece with shakuhachi, tenor sax, viola, and drums. Announced as "we will play a little something," it lead into a sensitive, miraculous murmuring. A captivating start in Suomi.
It couldn't have formed a bigger contrast with the subsequent E-Collective of trumpeter Terence Blanchard
. Blanchard is a highly skilled, virtuosic musician and merited composer. His E-collective gathered a group of known talented, young musicians like pianist Fabian Almazan
and guitarist Charles Altura
. Unfortunately, Almazan's keyboard too often had a tinny sound and Donald Ramsey's cheap sound on the bass guitar, together with Oscar Seaton
's bass drum, had the same grinding effect on the music as described for Takuya Kuroda's band. And this was no intended trashy sound or old fusion sound recycling. Altura's soloing in this sound bed lasted far too long which altogether had a dulling effect. No doubt there was musical substance, but it was drowned and spoiled by an unattractively reverberating sound. Conclusion
Two concerts at Klubi were attended but not reviewed: the night concert of the group Tamikrest from Mali on Friday and thehilarious and powerful as everclosing concert of Stian Carstensen
's Norwegian-Bulgarian bunch of Farmers Market.
The programming showed well-spread and balanced variety and variation, was a good European representation, and offered some good insights into the characteristics, mentalities, and dynamics of the Finnish scene. The festival schedule and time were convenient, compact and audience-friendly. The stage changes and reorganisation in-between the acts were amazingly effective and smooth and the number of concerts and short distance to/between the venues made the experience clear and doable. The festival's organisation owes a remarkable combination of pro-and reactive capability, effectiveness and relaxed caretaking. Their hospitality was extraordinarily kind, attentive, generous and caring.
Telakka is a wonderful place, but it's a bit difficult to really get 'inside' and share the atmosphere with the Finnish audience celebrating their musicians and groups, when commuting between the Old Custom House opposite and Telakka. Maybe this needs some (more) 'hyvää' practice.