Ultra Music at Pori Jazz Festival: Pori, Finland, July 14-16, 2011
The final evening of this series of European experimental music once again featured an amalgam of Finnish and foreign musicians, all experimentalists in their art. First up and playing as iXt was the team of Iro Haarla on piano, Tapani Rinne on clarinet, and Tuomas Norvio manipulating the electronics. They produced a sometimes sparse, sometimes dismembered, always abstract and always intense program. Haarla and Rinne have worked extensively since their first association in Edvard Vesala's ensemble Sound and Fury in the late 1980s. Both have worked with an array of other musicians, but only once as part of a trio. Both have developed over time to become more meditative in their work, in contrast to many artists during the previous two evenings, leaving plenty of space for each others' moods and for audience involvement.
Hence also the role of the live mixer as a key link between these moods. Norvio has long been part of Rinneradio's line-up, working under his alter ego's name Verneri Lumi. Initially inspired by the work of Richie Hawtin, Norvio's role in subtly adding to the original acoustic sound of both instrumentalists creates a whole dimension of meaning and value to the poise and feeling of their music. In particular the middle range of timbres and rhythms were expanded by Norvio's contribution, adding continuity and reinforcing the unity of the show.
The second act continued to highlight the pivotal role of the mixer in cutting edge free-jazz, this time with two established names from the world of Finnish electronica. Led by producer, DJ and arranger Pekka Tuppurainen, the very Scandinavian RöD/BLå also featured the all-analog effects of house mixer Jori Hulkkonern. The sextet in Pori built upon the success of the recent release of the eponymous double album (Aeon, 2010) with a single 50-minute improvisation based loosely on the compositions on the album, starting from David Bowie's "Abdulmajid," followed by a short piece written by the pianist Aki Rissanen. These three individuals form something of a cerebral focus within the band, evident when they started the encore in a highly restrained manner before being railroaded by the later entrance of the three acoustic musicians in unison, and at full volume.
Finnish sextet RöD/BLå, featuring Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo
The always innovative saxophonist Mikko Innanen and fellow member of the Helsinki nu-jazz circles drummer Joonas Riippa joined Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo center-stage in the major work, leading the band through the changes either on tenor or baritone saxophone or one of the extensive collection of acoustic sound sources from his traveling suitcase. Innanen and Riippa seem equally eager to extend their palette beyond their primary instruments, having spent recent years straining just to push the boundaries of sound and solipsism as far as they can. Their experimentalism works best in just such a large band where one or more of the other players can pick up on and develop their musical quips, be they squawks and shrieks from a hand-held car horn, or blips and blops from a wobbled plastic saxophone mute. Although Tupparainen is nominally in charge, the interpretation could and did stray well off the rails at times, but at no time lost its sense of humor, nor the sense of purpose. Finding the appropriate phrase to end on was challenging, but was successfully resolved!
French keyboardist Paul Brousseau's Kolkhöze Printanium, featuring guest guitarist Marc Ducret
The evening's final line-up was exclusively French, a quintet of instrumentalists under the direction of keyboardist Paul Brousseau, called KoLKHöZe PriNTaNiuM (KKP). Composing under the influence of early rock and electronica, keyboardist Brousseau was intent to "explore the innards of rock music in order to compose music that's influenced by the 60's acid rock," while still remaining open to the influence of modernists, like those of his visiting guitarist of the evening Marc Ducret. While Mayot Hugues on tenor sax retains a style that is faithful to the original concept of acoustic jazz, the overall sound and style of KKP is closer to a dedicatedly experimental instrumental electric group like the Norwegians Shining or Motorpsycho.
Critical to the sound and current style is bassist Jean-Philippe Morel, who determinedly drives the bottom end with deft but relentless lines, processed beyond any normal bass palette, and matched in its intensity by Phippe Gleizes' drumming. Sitting on the cusp of the genre with their original guitarist Maxime Delpierre, or in the final ultra hours at Pori with Ducret, Brousseau's spacey keyboards and KKP's power took the final session of the series to an extreme of modern improvisational music, well beyond the orbit of any conventional jazz gathering, but happily encompassed still by the Pori mainstream.
All Photos: Maarit Kytöharju