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Tampere Jazz Happening 2014

Henning Bolte By

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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.
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