Joonas Leppänen – Alder Ego
(AMP. AT016. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)
This record from Finnish drummerJoonas Leppänen is folk-infused jazz. For the most part a quartet of trumpet, alto saxophone, bass and drums, with added accordion on a couple of tracks for extra texture, the music has a light, free feel to it. It sounds optimistic – a Nordic spring or summer, rather than dark winter.
Leppänen wrote most of the tracks, aside from Timelapse which was a group effort. There is a unity of atmosphere across the tracks so that, deliberate or not, the CD seems like a suite, with some tunes running directly into others. Some tracks appear more free and improvised, such as the short Timelapse; others a little more composed or rigid. Starfish moves from its first structured phases through a saxophone solo by Jarno Tikka into a loose, open trumpet solo by Tomi Nikku, spanning the record’s moods.
There are hints of classic bebop in some of the riffs, but these are then reduced to open structures around which the soloists improvise. Some of the tunes seem to have a narrative flow, such as Homecoming, the gentle opener. Leppänen’s drumming has an easy, relaxed feel, leaving lots of space.
Teemu Åkerblom‘s bass is similarly unhurried. Both Nikku’s trumpet and Tikka’s saxophone have melodic movement, touched with flecks of free improvisation.
If Alder Ego is representative of what’s happening in Finnish jazz, its mix of jazz, improvisation and folk melodies seems a very interesting place to be.