Artist: Alder Ego
Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Le Chant Des Sirènes
We Jazz Records is an unusual label. Based in Helsinki it is an offshoot of the annual We Jazz Festival. It also has links to other festivals in Helsinki and elsewhere.
We Jazz releases a small number of cutting edge jazz albums, and in passing have a sideline selling record bags, cassette tapes and other merchandise. Suddenly we have two new albums – and four bands for the price.
Alder Ego is an entirely new band to me. It’s a chordless ensemble, led discreetly by the drummer. Joonas Leppänen may be known from his work as part of Big Blue, a much cooler, very Nordic sound from a few years ago. Alder Ego is also a cool sound but with a very clear emulation of Ornette Coleman’s early quartets and the bent harmonies that pioneered.
The compositions, by Leppänen, seem to follow the “harmolodics” approach of Ornette Coleman and whilst it’s not reasonable to expect them to approach the memorability that Coleman achieved, they are nevertheless a pleasant attempt. I was particularly impressed by the two young leads. Jarno Tikka on saxophone and Tomi Nikku on trumpet combine and harmonise really well and both are fine soloists. Teemu Åkerblom on bass provides a solid pulse throughout and two tracks also include vibes player Ilkka Uksila adding an interesting extra sound without changing the overall dynamic.
This is an interesting young band with some fine soloists and well worth keeping an eye on.
The compilation album Berlin 27.10.17 is a more mixed bag. Recorded live as part of yet another We Jazz festival it has two tracks each from a trumpet trio, a flute trio and a saxophone trio. So We Jazz brings us 13 interesting Finnish musicians – and not a chord in sight!
Bowman Trio has young trumpeter Nikku in a more conventional and melodic mood than with Alder Ego – but reinforcing the impression of a talent worth watching.
Jaska Lukkarinen Trio features saxophone from Jussi Kannaste, something of a veteran at 42, and head of jazz at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy. This is more conventional with a real pleasant melodic sound.
Black Motor is more of an improvising band and more difficult to comment on on the basis of two wildly different tracks. Tane Kannisto leads one with flute and the second with an Eastern reed instrument. In both cases the bass of Ville Rauhala and drums of Simo Laihonen provide splendid atmospheric support.
Compilation albums are always difficult to assess, but taken with the fine Alder Ego album, this shows a vibrant and varied Finnish jazz scene mainly new to me and very little known in the UK.
Review by Peter Slavid