Wonders Never Cease
Drummer-composer Klaus Suonsaari is slowly but surely building a catalog of impressionistic yet edgy ECM-like music on his KSJazz label. Originally from Finland, Suonsaari now makes his home in New Jersey, but he often calls on his native country’s musicians for recording dates, which is the case with these two discs.
On Fallingwater, Suonsaari and keyboardist Frank Carlberg revisit the partnership heard on Offering (KSJazz, 2004). The duo traffics in European art song (“Notebooks”), Enoesque jazz (“Marita”) and avant-garde scratchings (“Kai”). Suonsaari plays drums, marimba and various other percussion items, while Carlberg sticks to piano primarily save for some distorted Fender Rhodes bits as on the two-part “Federico.” All but one of the 11 tunes—Thelonious Monk’s “Little Rootie Tootie”—were composed by either Suonsaari or Carlberg, and their music is abstract yet lovely.
Nordic Trinty is a Finnish supergroup of sorts, with the musicians spanning several generations. The elder statesman is tenor saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen, a former longtime sideman of drummer-composer Edvard Vesala, whom he ranks just behind as Finland’s greatest jazz export. In the middle is Suonsaari and the youngest is guitarist Mikko Iivanainen, who put together Nordic Trinity. He composed three of the CD’s nine songs, as did Suonsaari; Aaltonen did one and the other two are by Thad Jones (“All My Yesterdays”) and Tapio Rautavaara (“Sininen Uni”), a Finnish renaissance man who was an Olympic athlete, film actor and singer-songwriter. The band gets heavy into Bill Frisell and Terje Rypdal territory, thanks to Iivanainen’s ambient fretwork, especially on “Wonders Never Cease,” but the group also plays wide open on the free-ish “Offering” and swings lightly on “Passion.”
A bassist would have been a welcome addition to both of these CDs, if only to ground the music more, but easy connections isn’t what the deep-listening KSJazz is all about.