Mikko Innanen leads Innkvisitio in an incarnation that spans Europe. The Finnish saxophonist is joined by original members Joonas Riippa (drums) and Seppo Kantonen (keyboards) as well as Swedish saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist and German saxophonist Daniel Erdmann.
Innanen is largely considered one of the leaders of the Nordic jazz scene. He has been a vital part of many collaborations and recently took New York City by storm, leading a new trio with bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Lou Grassi.
With Innkvisitio, it’s the exploration of the wild side that makes it kick. Without question, this brand of skronk and avant-garde playing takes some getting used to. Beneath the “retro-futuristic” façade lies a real beating heart.
So often with this type of stuff, the players get caught up in producing noise and forget to draw it together. Innanen has real feeling behind his playing, though, and commits entirely to pushing the form forward through the use of Indian wood clarinet, percussion, whistles, and an assortment of toy instruments.
Clustrophy really makes it hot when it settles into those hard grooves right after wild, open moments of screwing around. When the funk train pulls into the station on “757,” keys blazing, futuristic effects cooking and soulful vocals gliding through the backdrop, it can be hard to sit still.
Or there’s the almost heavy metal scramble of “The Grey Adler Returns Again,” complete with scorching drumming from Riippa and a scattering of loud effects and synth. The slightly smashed lounge groove of the title track, complete with not-quite-in-unison saxes is also well worth examining.
In the liner notes of Clustrophy, Innanen tells us to “see with our ears.” This advice is particularly fitting accompanying a record that thinks ahead and progresses without losing sight of tradition or of pursuit of the groove. In this regard, Innkvisitio not only sees with their ears; they think with them too.
Article originally published as part of Moment’s Notice: Exploring Finnish Jazz with Innkvisitio and Olavi Trio at Blogcritics