Olavi Trio & Friends: Triologia (2011)
The most famous Olavi in history of modern Finnish music may be Olavi Virta, the godfather of the Finnish Tango. The Olavi Trio has little in common with the famous Olavi; it just happens that everyone in this trio carries the middle name Olavitwo, as their official names despite being rarely known by it. These three Olavis represent the history of the Finnish jazz: the elder, 70 year-old double bass master Teppo Hauta-aho, was a member of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and remains a member of The Finnish National Opera Orchestra, in addition to collaborating with key figures in the Finnish jazz scene including pianist Heikki Sarmanto and the late drummer Edward Vesala; 51 year-old trombonist Jari Hongisto leans to modern contemporary music and free improvised music ;and the youngest, 30 year-old drummer Olavi Louhivouri leads his ensembles Oddarrang and Sun Trio, in addition to regular performances with Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko's Dark Eyes quintet.
This debut recording of the trio, recorded in 2008, represents what they do best: collective experimentation; passionate playing, with open-minded, open-ended and freely improvised textures; and rearranging a few compositions, but never surrendering to genre attitude, or relying on a steady pulse. All 14 pieces are stamped with the trio's unorthodox tastes, eccentric humor and almost telepathic interplay. Three other co-conspirators are occasionally invited to participate, adding even more spice to an already organic stew.
The trio introduces its unique raison d'être on a set of collective improvisations like the playful opener "Triologia," later moving to the dark, meditative "Super Balls" and the gentle "Bassologia." An exciting imaginary journey along the Finnish Amazon sounds exactly like its title, a meeting of curious, talkative "Birds." "Olavi Puré" is a surprising dreamy, childlike improvised song, while "Hi Bob!" is an eccentric experiment to form a free improvisation based on a reggae rhythm led by Hauta-aho.
Between these non-linear pieces, the Olavis adjust their improvisations to looser melodies on Lohivouri's spare "Dance of the Arasias," with guest trumpeter Verneri Pohjola. Guitarist Kalle Kalima is featured on a fantastic cover of "No. 69B," from the repertoire of Anthony Braxton's Quartet, demonstrating similar urgency and intensity as the original but with its own immediacy and open exchange of musical ideas. Together with the great saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen, the trio performs a quiet and nuanced tone poem, "White Adria," supposedly a dark interpretation of white dreams. Again with Kalima, more cinematic attitude is explored on "Biologia," the leisurely soundtrack to a slow-burning free improvisation. Back with Pohjola, the epically played "Old Papa's Blues" together with Pohjola, attempts again and again to disguise itself as a non-blues, despite its title, with moderate success. As proud Finns, the trio concludes by majestically covering "Täysikuu" (Full Moon)," a tribute with Aaltonen to one of Olavi Vitra's most well-known and often-covered compositions.
Triologia is a provocative but, at the same time, an engaging experiment in forward-thinking free improvisation. Hopefully it won't be long until the next adventure of these musical heroes.
Track Listing: Triologia; Dance of the Arasias; Super Balls; Bassologia; No. 69B; Birds; White Adria; Four Paraphrases for Charles; Biologia; Drumologia; Olavi Puré; Old Papa´s Blues; Hi Bob!; Täysikuu.
Personnel: Teppo Olavi Hauta-aho: bass; Jari Olavi Hongisto trombone; Niilo Olavi Louhivuori: drums; Verneri Pohjola: trumpet (2, 12); Juhani Aaltonen: saxophone (7, 14); Kalle Kalima: guitar (5, 9).
Record Label: TUM Records