Juhani Aaltonen / Jonas Kullhammar / Christian Meaas Svendsen / Ilmari Heikinheimo

November 21, 2020

The Father the Sons and the Junnu

Moserobie Music Productions MMP CD 124

Appropriately low-key since one quartet member is nearly 85, The Father the Sons and the Junnu is the Scandinavian Jazz equivalent of the 1969 Muddy Waters/Paul Butterfield Fathers and Sons LP. Except this time instead of younger interpreters playing familiar material with their forefathers, this cultivated disc features new compositions from each participant interpreted in a mutually satisfying fashion.

One of the doyens of the Nordic scene, tenor saxophonist/flutist Johan Aaltonen (b. 1935), has worked with everyone from Reggie Workman to Edward Visalia. Swedish tenor and baritone saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar (b. 1978), leads his own groups and works with the likes of Torbjörn Zetterberg. Meanwhile Finnish drummer Ilmari Heikinheimo and Norwegian bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen, both born in 1988, and play with leaders such as Paal Nilssen-Love and Raoul Björkenheim are fully integrated into the program, This is obvious on the bassist’s “The Sun” which gives the drummer ample space to demonstrate his uniquely tuned drums whose stretched clips and vibrating crunches suggest non-European tropes. Meantime the drummer’s “Sorrow Wave” is a Meaas Svendsen showcase with modulated and balanced arco scrubs leading to measured but thick string strums that backed by cymbal sizzles, presage both saxophonists’ propelling doits, spetrofluctuation and irregular vibrations.

Despite the year age difference, the playing of the saxophonists is complementary, although on baritone, Kulhammar’s vibrating honks are most prominent while Aaltonen’s mild flute puffs reference Cool Jazz. Comparison is more difficult when both play tenor. However their tandem, then segmented, expositions are clearly contrasted via elevated and low tones, on the languid “Suomalainen Maailmanmestari”, with fanning vibrations and culminating with a hint of altissimo split tones. However the quartet’s most definitive work occurs on Kulhammar’s “Il Ju Jo Christ”. It use seesaw multiphonic slurs and power blasts from the saxophonists plus drum accents to move the theme from FreeBop to Freeform and back again.

Age is only a number and profound musical affiliation can occur no matter the birth dates involved. That’s what this session proves.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Reflections 2. Il Ju Jo Christ 3. Yellow Bird 4. Sorrow Wave 5. The Sun 6. Suomalainen Maailmanmestari

Personnel: Juhani Aaltonen (tenor saxophone and flute); Jonas Kullhammar (tenor and baritone saxophones); Christian Meaas Svendsen (bass) and Ilmari Heikinheimo (drums)