Album Reviews

Album Review: Jorma Tapio & Kaski - Aliseen (577 Records)

Produced in partnership with

Graham Reid

Opening with a tough but tender and melodic alto piece (reminiscent of Ornette Coleman's tone on the classic "Lonely Woman"), the Finnish multi-instrumentalist Jorma Tapio and his band immediately grab attention.

That opener "Reppurin Laulu" – a traditional song from a part of Finland now in Russia – is driven along by the precision playing of drummer Janne Tuomi and bassist Ville Rauhala who keep the steady jogging rhythm which then clicks into double-time with handclaps and Tuomi deftly cannoning around the kit.

It's a very striking and impressive opener in its tuneful and minimalist way, but what follows is an album which opens up in many different directions.

"Lasten Juhlat" may be more Coleman-inspired post-bop (with Rauhala playing arco) in its angularity but the short "She's Back" is a swinging little West Coast-balmy number for flute.

And at the other end of the spectrum, "Henkays" is a low, breathy and atmospheric piece with wooden flute and washes of cymbals which seems to evoke the chilly snow-covered forests of their homeland.

"Siltasalmi" is a terrific improvised piece for (mostly) Tuomi and Rauhala in separate but interlocking solo passages.

The ballad mode – where the melodically direct Tapio really shines in the more constrained passages – reemerges on the moody "Way Off" with turbulent undertow from the rhythm section.

This is an album of different but interrelated moods which exists between frosty Scandinavian elements (although never as austere as some ECM albums out of the region) and the post-bop into free jazz territory staked out in the late Fifties and Sixties.

Jorma Tapio and Kaski certainly get their hooks into you with that opener – the album title "Aliseen" means a shaman's journey into the underworld, and it sounds like it on the rattling title track at the end – and rarely let go in a programme of diversity, depth and sometimes (as on haunting folk-influenced pieces like "Nukunuku") go where few jazz players would.

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Released: 24 Jul 2020

Written By: Graham Reid Graham goes to a proper opera every year just to make sure they are still behaving themselves. Otherwise, he's immersed in everything from indie rock and power pop to world music and free jazz. He has always bought cheap'n'trashy secondhand and shiny new vinyl, and his long-running website has literally thousands of music reviews, interviews and overviews. Search parties have been sent looking for those who have got lost in