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Sound and Fury: Pulsacion

So, many years ago, more than I want to admit, I was a young kid who was interested in jazz, the more modern the better. And there were a series of releases on a new record label- ECM- that were just great, by artists like Keith Jarrett, Barre Phillips, Anthony Braxton and others. Of course, we know where that went; today, ECM is one of the leading record labels in the world, making records with superb engineering, "the greatest thing next to silence." I say this because I would buy every ECM disc I could get my hands on. One was by Finnish composer Edward Vesala. The record was Nan Madol and the year was 1974. It was a heady mix of jazz and classical music with overtones of Finnish folk music, and it was quite dense in its orchestrations. It was not, really, a typical ECM record, but I loved it to pieces. Sadly, Vesala died way too young, only 54, in 1999. And it has been some time since I picked up Nan Madol and played it. I should note that Nan Madol was the first of 6 discs Vesala recorded with ECM as leader; he also played as a sideman on discs by Tomasz Stanko and Kenny Wheeler.

So why mention this? Well, here, on this new release by Sound and Fury, they have made the decision to play only compositions written by Vesala, but which have never before been released. And from the moment this disc begins, it sounds as though Vesala is there; it is all his orchestrations, his vision and his method of layering brass over other instruments. It is uncanny. Each song shows different genres and abilities; "Lamgonella Lomboo" is more a typical big-band sound, though modernized and very much in a Carla Bley kind of mold. "I Tell You a Story" is a rocker, beginning with guitars and a pounding beat, before winds come in and overlie the beat. There is a beautiful alto sax solo in this. "Siamese Twins" is more big band, with sinuous lines and a chorded guitar that would not be out of place on a Sonny Sharrock disc. This is jagged and angular, and moves through a number of tempo changes. There is a shattered tenor sax solo in this as well, which is fractured and stuttering and heavily 'out'. "Pulsacion" is, as its title suggests, more pulse like. Starting with heavy suspended chords, it builds tension up over its 7 minutes without ever really releasing it. "Nattuggia" begins with a flute solo and bowed bass. It is stately and sedate, static but tense. "Punk" is pure rocker- heavy beat, repetitive military drumming, brass screaming. It never lets up once. The record closes with "Shadows." This is a flowing piece, high in energy and electronics, but it brings this excellent record to an excellent close.

I am not sure this is prog in any way. It is more modern big band, with avant-garde elements, but the musicianship is without compare. No specific musicians are listed in the PR release, but these guys know what they are about. And using Vesala as their model is both ambitious and worthy. Good work!

Track Listing

  1. Lamgonella Lomboo
  2. I Tell You a Story
  3. Siamese twins
  4. Pulsacion
  5. Nattugia
  6. Punk
  7. Shadows

Added: November 11th 2013
Reviewer: Dana Lawrence
Related Link: Band @ Soundcloud
Hits: 3286
Language: english

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