Trio Nuevo Finlandia

Ha! What’s Going On?
Leo Lab / CD046

Baron Paakkunainen / flute, alto flute, soprano sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, Eero Ojanen / piano, Teppo Hauta-aho / bass, cello, siren

I can’t recommend this highly enough, although it would be easy enough to overlook. I have no idea whether there’s something in the clear mountain air which makes people play like this but, cliche as it is, the best comparison to be drawn with this disk is the Scandinavian jazz from two decades ago which most of us got to know through the ECM label. This owes much more to the free improv tradition, but its links with the West Coast experiments of Giuffre and Tristano, iots use of space and preference for delicacy over bluster, are all important points of contact.


Paakkunainen is a lyrical, economical player with a rather poised approach which sits well in this setting. His work is in itself very listeneable, but this is mosytly not a solos-and-accompaniment deal; it would be nice to hear him in such a situation, and I suspect he would pull it off beautifully, but here he has the discipline to let Ojanen’s Bley-like piano or Hauta-Aho-‘s bass occupy an equal amount of space.

This is an approach which pays dividens. Far from being a standard rhythm section, these two push the music around, form new ideas and run off with them. Often, what begins sounding like a free improv piece grows into something thematic, if not exactly tonal or tune-based. They generate and develop material rather than simply using the “moment form” so beloved of many British groups.


This is a fresh kind of cool school, developing out of a familiar tradition but with a sharply contemporary edge. If, like so many people, you came to free music through Garbarek, Bley, Frisell and Motian, this will be more than a nostalgia trip. It will serve as a reminder of what could be so exciting about that music when first encountered — its strangeness but unaccountable accessibility, the spark of dynamic interplay between abstraction and melody. Richard Cochrane