A Finnish Mingus
greg taylor | Portland, Oregon United States | 12/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Edward Vesala ( who passed away in 1999) was a musical visionary. This is the first CD of his I have ever picked up so I cannot tell you if it is his best or most representative. What I can tell you is that this is unusually powerful and beautiful music that is obviously the result of years of work.
My understanding is that his group Sound and Fury lived at Vesala's house and participated in marathon practice sessions in order to live up to his demanding standards.
All I can say is that if this is true then I, for one, am the richer for their efforts. The ensemble playing is absolutely perfect.
The group on this record consists of the following:
Jorma Tapio- alto sax, bass clarinet, flute, bass flute and percussion
Jouni Kannisto- tenor sax and flute
Pepa Päivinen- tenor, soprano and baritone saxes, flute and alto flute
Matti Riikonen- trumpet
Iro Haarla- piano, harp, keyboards
Jimi Sumen- guitar (and also the recording engineer)
Edward Vesala- drums and percussion.They are joined by Marko Ylönen on the cello on tracks 2,4,5,8 and 9, Pekka Sarmanto on bass on track 1 and Mark Nauseef on the bongos on track 3.
One thing missing from this listing is whoever is responsible for the electronic effects used throughout the piece. These are wonderfully varied and more sophisticated than what are usually heard for jazz recordings. On track 1 and 4, for example, Vesala uses distorted voices reading in English or in Finnish to create weird backgrounds for the music. I suspect that most of the effects are being done by Vesala or Haarla or Sumen but no one is credited for their efforts. Too bad. They're good.
The chords are usually sound by the mass of the horns with individual voices briefly stating melodic variations. The guitar is frequently crunchy with industrial, distorted chording or quirky single note runs. Vesala's approach to drumming is as unusual as his sense of orchestration- he ornaments the rhythm rather than state it. At times, he sounds very African, other times he sounds like a very free jazz drummer. His is probably the dominant solo voice on the record.
Which brings up one of the odd things about his music. Vesala came out of the European free jazz tradition but on this recording the music sounds almost completely written out with very few soli other than what Vesala does with his drumming. Of course, I could be wrong.
The result, in any case, is some of the best music I know. His music lives in the spaces between contemporary classical and jazz, between parody and homage, between individual vision and tradition. This is music that sounds like nothing else but immediately makes sense. This is music that will definitely take you out of just about anybody's idea of what constitutes the mainstream and it is very much worth the trip.
This CD is my introduction to Vesala but I already regret his loss. Musicians like him do not come along very often."
Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL music
Miksaboy | Helsinki, Finland | 11/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This cd contains some of the finest music ever. Vesala's jazz group doesn't play along the old-fashioned sidelines of traditional "jazz" but creates a boiling hotpot of it's own. There are some serene pieces, such as "Sarastus" ("dawn") evoking deep, visual landscapes, and hard-hitting rhytmic work. Vesala's death in 1999 was a major loss, but this album is always my favourite - the sound world is in my opinion "warmer" than in "Ode to the death of jazz", for example.
The only artist I could really compare Vesala to is Charles Mingus. Both made use of thoroughly and fully composed pieces, played with lush, emotional orchestrations and involved bandleading. Vesala pulls no punches. Yet he has tenderness in his compositions. Listen to this!"