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Klaus Suonsaari: The Music of Tom Harrell

There’s more to Finland than Jean Sibelius or Esa-Pekka Salonen. His name is Klaus Suonsaari, drummer, composer and arranger. While not a household name, he is certainly known to the likes of Tom Harrell, Pepper Adams, Bob Berg, Junior Cook and Ray Drummond.

By the same token, Harrell-particularly his writing-is well known to Suonsaari. They collaborated on Suonsaari’s debut for Storyville, Reflecting Times in 1988-three years after Klaus leveled his sights on New York following basic training at Eastman and Berklee.

On this CD, he has taken Harrell’s flowing lines and ever-busy changes and fashioned an excellent straightahead trio session, avoiding the temptation of a leader’s privilege by allowing pianist Niels Lan Doky and bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson to dominate the solos. Smart decision. Pederson is a monster on bass, with no shortage of ideas, and the intonation to realize them. Check his brilliant remarks on “Bell,” his Latin pulse on “Terrestris” and how he shares melody in the cello range with Doky on “Songflower,” one of Harrell’s loveliest tunes. Suonsaari provides a subtle three-against-four on the gopsel-tinged “Serenity,” but Pederson steals that show, too.

Originally Published