ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN…Wadada Leo Smith: The Great Lakes Suites, Kalle Kalima & K-18: Bunuel De Jour

Experimentation and free thought is still alive and well in jazz, as shown by a pair of new releases.

A little bit of geographic as well as musical education is provided by trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, as he gives us a tour of The Great Lakes on this 6 part suite with avant garde  professors Henry Threadgill/as-fl-bfl, Jack DeJohnette/dr and John Lindberg/b. I always forget Lat St. Clair, but it gets over 13 minutes of attention, which is about par here, as the tunes go from 9 to 21. Free form interaction rules the day here, ranging from the mid tempo “Lake Michigan” with some flailing alto work by Threadgill, to warm interplay between Smith and Threadgill that sounds like it’s vintage Ornette Coleman on “Lake Huron.” A mix of bowed bass and flute on the herky-jerky “Lake Ontario”  sets the stage for some wild percussion by DeJohnette on “Lake Huron.” With lots of time for each piece, moods sometimes change as dramatically like a menopausal mama as on “Lake Erie,” keeping you on your collective toes. A feast for Freedom Fighters.

Guitarist Kalle Kalima teams up with an intriguing team on his release. Just what is a “quarter-tone” accordion is going to be found out here, as Veli Kujala plays it throughout the collective pieces along with Teppo Haura-aho/b-perc and Mikko Innanen, who would have driven Roland Kirk jealous with instruments such as the zaphoon, contact mic and hip whistle collection along with the “regular” alto sax.  The songs themselves are quite experimental, sometimes sounding like a trip with Robert Fripp with saxes and guitars boxing it out on “El Padre,” or the accordion and reeds making quasi klezmer sounds on the merry go round of “Diary of a Chambermaid.” Edgy guitar sounds go from linear to fuzzy on various tunes, with a frenetically fragrant “The Milky Way” and some bass and guitar going up and down  like a pinball game on “Tristana.” Going where few people have gone before.

TUM Records





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