In the winter of 1998, when I was a second year student at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, my guitar teacher at the conservatory, the renowned Danish guitarist Pierre Dørge, invited saxophonist Peter Brötzmann to lead a week-long workshop there. It turned out to be an intensive and creative week of composing and playing a graphic symphony for a double jazz group. After the successful final concert, we decided to continue organizing creative workshops and Pierre proposed inviting Han Bennink, with whom he had played a tour of school concerts back in the 1960s (with saxophonist John Tchicai and pianist Misha Mengelberg).
As Pierre left the conservatory the following summer, it fell on me to start preparing for the visit of Han Bennink, whom I had only seen play once, with pianist Myra Melford and trumpeter Dave Douglas, at the Jazzkaar Festival in Tallinn in 1994. I remember him playing on wooden beer cases and running around the hall of the Sakala Center, drumming on red chairs (the hall was built in the 1980s for holding communist party meetings). It took more than a year to get in order the practical side of Han´s visit, but at last, in March 1999, he was standing before us in a classroom. We were seven students, all hungry for new ideas in alternative ways of improvising. The group included the Finnish saxophonist Mikko Innanen, who had been attending the Rhythmic Music Conservatory as an exchange student from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki since the previous September. I had jammed together with Mikko already by that time, but this master class was the starting point for more serious collaboration between us.
Those three days with Han definitely inspired all of us to keep searching for our personal voices in improvisation, but I also think that those days changed our lives and ways of thinking in an even more profound way. For a young musician, it is a miracle that somebody can have a sound that is unmistakably recognizable after hearing it only for five seconds and Han most certainly does. It was especially Han´s intensity while playing that caught my attention; listening - and watching - him play is a very physical experience. And his way of using small details to develop the story, while only playing on the snare drum or even just the surface of his drum stool or the floor, also had a significant influence on me. As an individual Han, a very warm and friendly person telling stories of the "real jazz times," left a lasting impression on all of us.
Two years later, I met Han backstage at the Copenhagen Jazz House, while he was performing with Pierre Dørge´s New Jungle Orchestra, and, to my great delight, he proposed that we perform together. So, I decided to invite Mikko to join us and concerts at the Jazzkaar Festival in Tallinn and at the Jumo Jazz Club in Helsinki were scheduled for late April in 2003.
There is not much that I can remember of those concerts, it just felt really good to play together. We had little possibility to practice before the performances and, as a result, most of the music was freely improvised, which did not mean that we would have avoided playing swing, flamenco, rock, calypso, folk, blues or even some country and ambient electronic influenced music.
Fortunately, the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) recorded the concert at the Jumo Jazz Club on April 29, 2003 and the highlights of this concert are now documented on this CD. I hope that the good feeling and spontaneous energy of the concert are apparent when listening to the recording. Thank you, Han and Mikko, for the great experience!
Tallinn, October 24, 2005
South (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink)
Far (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink)
Away (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink)
Grey (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink)
Sea (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink)
Ahead (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink).
The first six improvised pieces of the recording become a trip in the world of collective improvisation in six movements and moods.
Trinkle Tinkle (Thelonious Monk) is one of Thelonious Monk´s trickiest and most inventive compositions. It still sounds fresh today - like it was written last night. A little detour on the spring odyssey.
Floating (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink) is an improvised meditation bringing the trio eventually into …
Bermuda (Mikko Innanen) that is one of Mikko Innanen´s compositions from the more joyous and life-embracing side.
Delta (Mikko Innanen - Jaak Sooäär )
Green (Mikko Innanen - Jaak Sooäär)
Dreams (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink)
Soon (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink)
Reality (Innanen - Sooäär - Bennink).
The final five improvised pieces of the recording bring the trio (first, as a duo) step-by-step back to their departure point, to the early spring moods in the Finnish capital of Helsinki in April 2003.