Saturday, 17 December 2016

Jukka Perko Avara - Invisible Man, album review

Sweetened Humours

The term Nordic Melancholy has been applied to this album in one review I have read, and that seems on the surface an apt summation. Looking this phrase up to see if it is an established jazz term [well, you never know] I did come across an article on Nordic Wellbeing, but that was clearly on a different tangent. Within this epistemological net’s catch you can come across references to Swedish Melancholy, but as the band members on this album are Finnish it is also evident how this is a generic term, linked to the landscape of a large area, geographical and cultural. The fact that one of the covers on this album is of Clapton’s Tears in Heaven, the tone could be seen as thematically mournful, though obviously not always, and in the end a melancholic naming probably reflects more the artistic/Romantic notion of the term.

The composition of instruments makes it quite distinctive, the trio of Jukka Perko on alto and soprano sax; Jarmo Saari on electric guitar, and Teemu Viinikainen on acoustic guitar. A perfect example of this working well is on second Like Father and Son which begins sweetly with Perko’s alto to the caressing fore, when half-way through the guitars begin to assert themselves, dancing in amongst the more staccato sax, echoing notes and building in volume with guitar runs, harmonics, in-fighting [gentle though], and some echo effects to end. The title track begins the album and is at times quite ‘classical’ in the guitar plucks, the alto of Perko a beautifully crisp sound, even in its more melancholic runs.

Saari’s guitar often provides bass notes and a beat, as on Pimento, another songs that dances across the three players; and then there is the track Sweet Solitude which actually thwarts the melancholia labelling because it is neither lugubrious nor morose – classic definitions of the term – but could be regarded as wistful. Whatever. This and following Nameless Angel exemplify more of the overall soft underbelly of these reflective pieces [ignoring the fuzzed guitar], played beautifully. As does and is the lovely Awakening. The penultimate track is an emotive cover of Peter Gabriel's Don't Give Up, which could be described as.....

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