Helsinki-based TUM Records, launched in 2003, "promotes more experienced musicians whose work is not favored by commercial trends of our time." The label is especially supportive of the freer end of jazz's spectrum, offering up albums like Kolibri
by Finish pianist/harpist Iro Haarla
, violinist Billy Bang
's Da Bang
, and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith
's Occupy the World
, to name just a few of the label's adventurous 2013 offerings.
Finnish saxophonist/flutist Juhani Aaltonen
(b. 1935) , who cites saxophonist John Coltrane
as a seminal influencethough he has developed his own very distinctive styleis one of those experienced musicians who doesn't fit in with the popular trends. He opens TUM Records' 2014 CD release schedule with To Future Memories
, featuring his regular quartet, beefed up to sextet with an additional bassist and percussionist, to give a denser, more layered rhythmic foundation upon which the players can improvise.
Subtitled The Music of Antti Hyatti
, this disc is Aaltonen's chance to explore his fellow countryman Hyatti's tunesmost of them written for film and theaterwith a respectful depth and a vibrant sense of improvisation. The resultperhaps it's a Finnish thingis a set that is filled with melancholy, and stories from, perhaps, a somber and introspective side of life. "Reminiscence," the opening tune, features Aaltonen in an anguished frame of mind, his tenor sax wailing as pianist Iro Haarla
lays down spare notes with perfect placement inside the loosely woven web of the tapestry of the two basses, drums and percussion.
"Kukunor," featuring Aaltonen on flute, sounding like a pastoral haunting, spirits in the forest, perhaps, while "Hilsi" finds the leader riding the ripples of a gentle bass/drum/percussion disturbance on bass flute. "All the Birds," features a gorgeous piano intro from Haarla, before Aalton enters on a raw-toned tenor. It's a sound that has the feeling of those birds flying lugubriously under a leaden sky, with darkness on a cold winter day not far off.
Aaltonen, with over a half century of music making under his beltand a leader on five TUM Records setshas crafted an extraordinary set of distinctive and oddly beautiful music with To Future Memories
. He and his band sound like nobody else out there.
Reminiscence; Kukunor; To Future Memories; Hilsi; Ursala; All the
Juhani Aaltonen: tenor saxophone, flute, bass flute; Iro Haarla: piano,
harp; Ulf Krokfors: bass; Ville Herrala: bass; Reino Laine: drums; Tatu