Finnish legendary drummer Edward Vesala has left our planet in 1999 when he was only 54 years old. Fortunately, Vesala’s artistic legacy and the music that he composed for his seminal group Sound & Fury since the early eighties and until his untimely passing is still very much alive. In 2010, four musicians from Vesala’s original Sound & Fury line-up – horn players Tane Kannisto, Pepa Päivinen and Jorma Tapio with guitarist Jimi Sumén decided to form the second incarnation of this group for the 10th anniversary memorial concert of Vesala.
This group toured Finland and recorded an album of Vesala’s compositions, «Pulsacion» (Elektro Records, 2013). The great joy of playing Vesala’s genre-defying compositions and re-creating his unique sound that went against all clichés about Nordic chilly atmosphere (and indeed, was exceptional in the ECM catalogue) – embracing ideas from free jazz, contemporary music, Finnish folk music and tango dances, as well as his Finnish fascination with mythical and magical tales – led to recording of the second album of Sound & Fury, «Thundering of Dawn». The current Sound & Fury nonet features also bass player Sampo Lassila, who played in the original group in the late eighties, drummer Simo Laihonen, known from the local free jazz trio Black Motor, and guitarist Julius Heikkilä, who played the roles of Vesala’s pianist-arranger-partner Iro Haarla on «Pulsacion».
Sound & Fury decided to interpret and expand Vesala’s vision with their textures, improvisations and original compositions of Haarla, who acts as an arranger and one of the producers of «Thundering of Dawn» alongside Päivinen and Tapio, who also contributed a recent composition of him. After all, Vesala always demanded from his musicians, many of them were his students, to express themselves to the fullest, in the moment, intellectually and emotionally, consciously and otherwise.
Sound & Fury plays Vesala’s complex compositions with vibrant joy, infectious energy and an open approach. «Ready Way to Og» is orchestrated as a mysterious, dramatic texture, organically weaving the horns lyrical voices, the scorching guitars of Jimi Sumén and Julius Heikkilä and the ruppling pulse of percussionist Hannu Risku and Laihonen. The title piece deepens the mysterious, adventurous vibe but in a looser, sometimes even chaotic framework, spiced with folk elements. «Charismata» composed and arranged by Iro Haarla, suggests the emotional side of Vesala and his gift to sketch beautiful melodies. «Alvreda daia» finally releases the restless energy of Sound & Fury and methodically builds the dramatic, cathartic climax.
Haarla’s tone poem «Doxa» (first recorded with her quintet on «Vespers», ECM, 2011) highlights the rich palette of sounds and timbral range of Sound & Fury, from the gentle and caressing to the most thorny and burning, explored with a gripping elegance. Tapio’s meditative ballad «Peace is the language of stars and stones» (recorded on his «Ghatika», (Karkia Mistika, 2016), ends this arresting journey with a touching note, stressing that Vesala’s legacy is still kicking, still rebelling against any authoritarian conventions and dictates, still fresh and very much relevant.
Pepa Päivinen (ss, ts, bs, fl), Jorma Tapio (as, bcl, fl, bfl), Tane Kannisto (ts, fl), Antero Priha (tp), Jimi Sumén (g), Julius Heikkilä (g), Sampo Lassila (b), Hannu Risku (perc), Simo Laihonen (dr)