Jorma Tapio and Kaski: Aliseen (577 Records/bandcamp)

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Jorma Tapio and Kaski: Aliseen (577 Records/bandcamp)

Opening with a tough but tender and melodic alto piece (reminiscent of Ornette Coleman's tone on the classic Lonely Woman), the Finnish multi-instrumentalist Jorma Tapio and his band immediately grab attention.

That opener Reppurin Laulu – a traditional song from a part of Finland now in Russia – is driven along by the precision playing of drummer Janne Tuomi and bassist Ville Rauhala who keep the steady jogging rhythm which then clicks into double time with handclaps and Tuomi deftly cannoning around the kit.

It's a very striking and impressive opener in its tuneful and minimalist way, but what follows is an album which opens up in many different directions.

Lasten Juhlat may be more Coleman-inspired post-bop (with Rauhala playing arco) in its angularity but the short She's Back is a swinging little West Coast-balmy number for flute.

And at the other end of the spectrum Henkays is a low, breathy and atmospheric piece with wooden flute and washes of cymbals which seems to evoke the chilly snow-covered forests of their homeland.

Siltasalmi is a terrific improvised piece for (mostly) Tuomi and Rauhala in separate but interlocking solo passages.

The ballad mode – where the melodically direct Tapio really shines in the more constrained passages – reemerges on the moody Way Off with turbulent undertow from the rhythm section.

This is an album of different but interrelated moods which exists between frosty Scandinavian elements (although never as austere as some ECM albums out of the region) and the post-bop into free jazz territory staked out in the late Fifties and Sixties.

Jorma Tapio and Kaski certainly get their hooks into you with that opener – the album title means a shaman's journey into the underworld, and it sounds like it on the rattling title track at the end – and rarely let go in a programme of diversity, depth and sometimes (as on haunting folk-influenced pieces like Nukunuku) go where few jazz players would.

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You can hear and buy this album through bandcamp here.

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Vinyl editions of albums on the 577 Records in Brooklyn can be ordered through Southbound Records in Auckland.

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