Olavi Trio – Oh, La Vie

oh la vie(TUM Records)

This is the third Cd from the Finland based TUM Records that I have reviewed for thejazzbreakfast and it has the same qualities as the previous two: a beautifully presented CD with very attractive artwork  by a named artist, Markus Konttinen, extensive and informative notes on the music and a focus in the actual music on innovative, envelope-pushing material.

The trio has Jari Hongisto on trombone, Teppo Hata-aho on double bass and Niilo Louhivuori on drums; Hongisto is a former member of Edward Vesala’s groups, but also an experienced player in and writer for big bands, Hauta-aho has played in classical orchestras, but also in improvising groups, notably with Cecil Taylor and Evan Parker. Louhivuori is the youngest member of the trio and leads the group Oddarranga key group on the contemporary Finnish scene. In this trio, however, the focus is on collective improvisation between the three players.

I found their approach to improvisation very interesting. A majority of the tracks, seven out of 13,  are improvisations, including one solo drum track and one duet between drums and double bass, but the six remaining tracks use short themes as the basis for the collective improvisation.

The tracks are mostly quite short with the shortest 2.12 mins long and the longest 10.40, so we are far away from the long extended improvisations that characterise much free jazz or improvised music. But, most significantly, the improvisations are quite melodic and contemplative, and avoid the high energy, the use of overtones in the blowing and the attack of much music we think of as free. This is as much the case on the tracks that are freely improvised as on those with an initial theme.

I find this approach very interesting and refreshing. The mood is occasionally quite melancholy, even rather dark, very Finnish one might say, but  other tracks capture another feature I have found to be characteristic of Finnish life: an openness and a willingness to have an engaging conversation with everyone participating.

This is a very enjoyable album , perhaps not totally exciting, but well worth a listen.

Categories: CD review

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