CD review

JAF Trio – “JAF Trio”

JAF Trio – JAF Trio
(WeJazz. Review by Dick Hovenga*)

In a similar way to the jazz scenes of both the UK and the Flemish part of Belgium, the remarkable albums currently emerging from the Finnish scene are a constant revelation. JAF Trio have brought us amazing freshness and vitality with their eponymous debut CD.

Whereas many young British and Flemish jazz musicians revel in adding new and different sounds from electronica, the young Finns stay very close to acoustic jazz, but push it in challenging directions with their sheer energy. Saxophonist Adele Sauros, bassist Joonas Tuuri and (Danish) drummer Frederik Emil Bülow show a spirit and a sense of commitment on their debut that are particularly attractive.

The trio’s playing has both purity and dynamism, and this seven-track album shows their strengths very persuasively. The drummer Bülow has written the majority of the compositions – five out of the seven – with Sauros and Tuuri contributing just one each. That fact actually came as something of a surprise at first, since it is always Tuuri’s double bass and Sauros’ sax that predominate in the band’s sound.

However, if one listens more intently it becomes clear that Bülow’s surprisingly resourceful drumming is indeed the bedrock. It’s wonderful to hear him goading the rhythms in constantly changing ways and to appreciate the surprisingly different twists and turns he is capable of when Tuuri’s double bass lays down the groove for him. And Sauros daringly combines delightful melodic and warm saxophone playing with a capacity to be beguilingly oblique and deliciously piquant.

They always seem to be on the lookout for a challenging line. Bülow’s compositions are free and give plenty of room to let these musicians show what they are capable of. It was a real pleasure to hear this trio flowing through uptempo compositions such as Ninth Row of the Fifth Floor, Masterpiece and Nostalgia, and also to enjoy the way they find stillness in Something New.

The second side of the LP has the very fine Dark Sparkle, Shades of Tomorrow and Det Er Dig where they continue the convincing form of the first. In their remarkably cool way, they seem just as much at ease when playing in relatively free pieces as they do when shaping the beautiful melodic lines of the more subdued pieces, such as Shades of Tomorrow.

These players have been honing their craft on the jazz scene for several years; one can hear that they have simply played together a lot. They show technical assuredness, the tunes really work well, and the obvious pleasure and ease they have in playing together adds an extra dimension. JAF Trio has made a very fine and exciting debut.

Now that these musicians from the Finnish jazz scene have been given international profile through the work of the great Helsinki record label We Jazz, we’ll all want to keep an eye on what they do next. There really must be something special in the water in Finland that makes the jazz scene there so attractive.

*This is Sebastian’s English version of the original review which appeared in Dutch at Written in Music

LINK: JAF Trio on the We Jazz Bandcamp site

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