The Tampere-based trio Black Motor has a long (12 years) history behind it including already nine albums (most of them out of print by now) before this one. On Branches two original members Ville Rauhala and drummer Simo Laihonen are joined by a new reed player Tane Kannisto (ex-Sound & Fury etc.) who considerably broadens the trio’s musical scale with his vast reed arsenal. As a strong and impressive soloist he already now has an important role in the trio’s music.
The overall atmosphere of Branches could be described peaceful. There are hardly no fast tempos at all. Instead there are several slow ballad-like compositions, mainly written by Ville Rauhala. Those include, among others, (Edward) Vesala-like opening «But Not Willingly». There Kannisto plays tenor saxophone, his main instrument, softly and beautifully.
The trio’s expression, however, is still free all the time. The interplay between the three, occasionally by two in various duo formats, is enjoyably solid and strong and everybody gets their solo parts, too.
After the opening there are two quicker pieces. Especially «Decision Jump» with its strong pulse is speedy. The title piece «Branches (Citizen Music)» brings out Kannisto with his nagaswaram along with Laihonen’s many bells. «Rauhala», on the other hand, gives rude treatment to his bass on this one.
An exception to trio’s originals is Fred Rose’s country &western song «Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Wind» from late 1940’s. Recorded several times that song was Willie Nelson’s final breakthrough and big hit back in 1975. Black Motor first gives credit to the popular song and its theme but then gradually starts giving it more and more rougher treatment.
Black Motor has throughout its history been known by its strong and sometimes quite aggressive free jazz playing. «Branches» shows this trio somewhat in a new light, softer, with more serene moods. But that impression may be illusory. Rish and powerful expression isn’t about tempos. It lies somewhere else and here you’ve got it. Concretely.
This motor hums like a V8 compared to many other automobile engines.
Tane Kannisto (ts,as,brs, nagaswaram), Ville Rauhala (b), Simo Laihonen (dr)