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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Esa Pietilä - Travel of Fulica Atra (Fiasko Records, 2007) ***½

A Finnish free jazz trio with Esa Pietilä on tenor, Ulf Krokfors on bass and Markku Ounaskari on drums. The three technically skilled musicians hesitate between real exploration and more traditional forms. The music is inspired by nature on the great Finnish lakes, at times evoking the sound of birds or the flowing of water. Some of the tracks are absolutely beautiful, such as the short "Free The Bird", but in some tracks, such as the long "Forget Gravity", the music is the opposite of its title, it never really takes off, and the ballad "Summer" is a kind of conflict of style with the rest of the album. The trio is at its best when their playing is improvized on the spot, intimate and meditative, as on "Radar" or "Pond", which are really intense and demonstrate the intrinsic value of the band. The title track too is wonderful. This is one of those records that you have to re-arrange yourself in your playlist. Take out a few tracks and the totality becomes even better. A pity the band did not do that itself.

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