The trombone seems to be going through somewhat of a renaissance in 2020. That's only if a period when albums such as Grachan Moncur III
's Some Other Stuff
(Blue Note, 1965) were released can be considered the instrument's heyday in jazz. But fresh Norwegian inputcaptured on Oyvind Braekke
's sextet release Wilderness
(Oslo Recording Sessions, 2020)graced the early spring of 2020, and New York-based trombonist Nick Finzer
followed with a similar sextet concept, revealing another highlight of the year in the carefully assembled charts on Cast of Characters
(Outside In Music, 2020). While both those outings show a strong focus on arranging and ensemble composing, Finnish trombonist Kasperi Sarikoski
's trio approach comes at it from a different angle. And yet, on this album, too, the compositional aspect proves the most virtuous.
Sarikoski's tone is thick and round as opposed to bright and shrill, while the rhythm section is spread out behind it, in a raw and dry sonic environment. The trombonist and his sidemen, Chilean bassist Simón Willson
and Italian drummer Francesco Ciniglio
, have been playing together since Sarikoski and Ciniglio first met as students at the Julliard School of Music in 2017, during the Fin's two-year stay in New York. Accordingly, fluent chemistry and tight interplay are evident throughout the exclusively Sarikoski-penned set, of which one composition sees Christian Li
joining on keys accounting for the +1 in the record's title.
Moving from one memorable theme to another, the rather compact structures on the album are heavy in melodic material and elegantly balanced in regard to the improvisatory portion, largely shared between trombone and bass. Not quite folksy or bop language-based, "Great Lawn Oval" finds Sarikoski performing some of the albums most convincing lines straight off the bat, with a rhythmically challenging backdrop counted in nine giving the trombone further drive. "Birchwood" is headed by a melancholic melody with a light-hearted core to a Caribbean rhythmic setting and features a nimble bass solo, which the drums playfully frame and interactively accompany. As is true for these two examples, melody is the center and the heart throughout the program.
Performance-wise the musicians show a solid front, capable of adapting to any cue in the blink of an eye, while also armed with unique character. Whether the rough edges around the production benefit the album's overall impression is impossible to universally judge, the factor however seems negligible in light of the outstanding material and musicians' skilled performances at hand. Because from a compositional point of view, the record is undoubtedly filled with nothing but highlights.
Poetic and lyrical on the contemplative serenade "Leonard Street," followed by old-school bopping in the spirit of the first Miles Davis
quintet on the appropriately titled "Wild Lanes," the trombone covers a large spectrumrange wise as well as stylistically speaking. Elegant phrasings and careful yet unexpected melodic colorations just outside the harmonic frames are among Sarikoski's default repertoire, delivered in an impressively effortless manner.
There's something very modern about the playing and composing on this record, even though the instrumentation and general form of the tunes comply with anything that could have been recorded in the past century. There's no telling what the Helsinki-based trombonist is up to next, but 3 + 1
makes plenty of convincing arguments for us to keep an eye on Sarikoski, no matter what it is.
The Opening; Great Lawn Oval; Birchwood; Slow Morning Coffee; Onward And Upward; Leonard Street; Wide Lanes;
Introduction To Such Sweet Sorrow; Such Sweet Sorrow; Wild Lanes (alternate take).