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Tron Theatre, Saturday 28th June 2008

Part of Glasgow International Jazz Festival

I suppose some purists would say that this wasn’t really jazz, since it contained very few elements from the African-American blues tradition. But one can be too purist for one’s own good. I’d describe them as “very ECM”, except that that somehow sounds like a bad thing.

Oddarrang are a Finnish quintet led by drummer Olavi Louhivuori. They’ve an unusual line-up, trombone, cello, guitar, acoustic bass guitar and drums, plus the occasional wordless vocal from cellist Osmo Ikonen and trombonist Ilmari Pohjola. This gives them a distinctive rich dark sound. It would be interesting to know just how much of the music was improvised: while there were definite individual solos, they always had an interesting arrangement behind them. This was definitely group music; it wasn’t just a case of one member soloing while the others vamped behind him. At times there was a hint of film music about their compositions: not big-budget Hollywood blockbuster film music, but something you might hear on a good European film at the GFT.

I went along to this without knowing what to expect, but it was very good indeed. Living in Britain you tend just to hear jazz from the UK and jazz from the USA, but this was a reminder that there’s a lot of good jazz being made all over the place.

More about them at Olavi Louhivuori’s web site.

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