The world of Finnish jazz isn’t one that I can boast much familiarity with, at least not yet. There is, of course, a significant community in Finland that dates back to the likes of Edward Vesala, Juhani Aaltonen and pianist Heikki Sarmanto.
TUM Records continues to push jazz into the modern age in Finland. The label opened its doors in May of 2003 and organizes TUMfest in Helsinki. For the most part, TUM’s roster of artists flies in the avant-garde direction with an emphasis on improvisation. There’s a deep respect for tradition to be found in Finnish jazz, but that hasn’t stopped musicians like Mikko Innanen from pushing forward.
In this edition of Moment’s Notice, I’ll explore two new releases from TUM Records. The first finds Innanen playing with Innkvisitio, a new incarnation of the group led by the saxophonist. The second is Triologia, an effort from the Olavi Trio.
Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio – Clustrophy
Innanen leads Innkvisitio in an incarnation that spans Europe. The Finnish saxophonist is joined by original members Joonas Riippa (drums) and Seppo Kantonen (keyboards) as well as Swedish saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist and German saxophonist Daniel Erdmann.
Innanen is largely considered one of the leaders of the Nordic jazz scene. He has been a vital part of many collaborations and recently took New York City by storm, leading a new trio with bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Lou Grassi.
With Innkvisitio, it’s the exploration of the wild side that makes it kick. Without question, this brand of skronk and avant-garde playing takes some getting used to. Beneath the “retro-futuristic” façade lies a real beating heart.
So often with this type of stuff, the players get caught up in producing noise and forget to draw it together. Innanen has real feeling behind his playing, though, and commits entirely to pushing the form forward through the use of Indian wood clarinet, percussion, whistles, and an assortment of toy instruments.
Clustrophy really makes it hot when it settles into those hard grooves right after wild, open moments of screwing around. When the funk train pulls into the station on “757,” keys blazing, futuristic effects cooking and soulful vocals gliding through the backdrop, it can be hard to sit still.