Legendary Finnish saxophone player Jorma Tapio, known from his work with Edward Vesala’s seminal Sound & Fury and Raoul Björkenheim’s Krakatau, formed his trio Kaski in 2015 in attempt to connect two traditions: the local Finnish folk music and free jazz. Kaski is the Finnish term to describe the traditional way of burning forests to make the ground fertile again. «Aliseen» – the Finnish word for a shaman’s trip to the underworld, is the sophomore album of Kaski, following «Ghatika» (Karkia Mistika, 2016), and recorded at V.R.Studio, Turku, Finland, in October 2019.
«Aliseen» bridges between the local Finnish traditions, dark, mysterious, and spiritual, with the Afro-American spiritual-cosmic jazz of the late sixties, especially the schools of Don Byas, John Coltrane, and Albert Ayler. The eleven pieces reflect on the rural life in Finland, a country that has been occupied either by Sweden or Russia through the centuries; a Nordic land with long, dark winters, midnight sun in the summer, and deep links to the spiritual world.
The opening piece, «Reppurin Laulu» demonstrates best this unique approach. It is a traditional song from East Karelia, an area from which Tapio’s mother came, famous for being populated by shamans, healers, and players of the traditional Finnish folk instrument, the kantele. This song was often sung by weeping women, a sort of ‘Finnish blues’ tradition, full of melancholy and strongly influenced by Slavic culture. Kaski’s version keeps the traditional-shamanic structure, including great percussion work by Janne Tuomi (who replaced Simo Laihone, another musician from Sound & Fury), but Tapio emotional playing navigates freely between the engaging folk theme and an American blues.
This delicate pendulum between the ancient and modern, far north and the west and east, dark and light, mysterious, and bright clear is the essence of «Aliseen». Tapio & Kaski succeed to expand and enrich the sonic horizons of both cultures with impressive, strong personal voices, passion, and elegance. Check the dance «She’s Back», the suggestive «Lost», the Indian-tinged «Huli», the moving cover of Vesala’s «Way Off» and the shamanic title-piece and most likely you may find yourself hypnotized by the mysterious spells of «Aliseen».
Jorma Tapio (as, ts, fl, bfl, wooden fl, kantele), Ville Rauhala (b), Janne Tuomi (dr, perc, kantele)