JJ 10/80: Juhani Aaltonen – Springbird

Forty years ago, Max Harrison was attracted by a varied flute and percussion programme but found the reality was weak improvising and a monotonous racket. First published in Jazz Journal October 1980


With instrumentation varying from one track to the next, with all man­ner of flutes, kotos and Senegalese percussion involved, this looked like a rewarding LP. It was sensible of Aaltonen, described as a leading Finnish jazz musician, to want to provide varied setting for his playing of several kinds of flute.

But it was all done too casually, to judge from the results, and his improvising is not good enough to hold one’s at­tention. Mainly his phrases are agitated, and meaninglessly so; also, though these performances are on the whole beautifully recorded, Aaltonen is made to appear to pro­duce a poor tone on all his in­struments through consistently be­ing too close to the microphone.

There are no memorable ideas here at all, unless you count the snoring noises which open and close Hibernate. A few pieces, like Siapa, are more lucid in texture than others, but in a context of offhand, off-course blowing the potentially in­teresting use of the organ in Dance or of two accordions in Manzil goes for nothing.

Perhaps the Senegalese percussion group (Ly, Ndiaye, Diakhate, Goudiaby, Cisse and Diouf) is the most disappointing ele­ment, for they kick up a fearfully monotonous racket.

Winds Of The Mystical Night-Mellow; Springbird; Siapa; Lullaby (18.02) – Manzil; Hibernate; Ghostrider; Dance Of The Witches (18.07)
Juhani (f af bf wooden f); Iro Haarla (org pac); Pekka Rechardt (g); Antti Hytti, Teppo Hauta-aho (b); Edward Vesala (d h koto bells tambura p g pac); Tero Sarikoski, Mamadou Ly, Mamadou Ndiaye, Abdoulaye Diakhate, Bakark Boudiaby, Moustapha Cisse, Abdoulaye Diouf (pc). Helsinki, 1978.
(Leo 005)