28 July 2015
A friend later told me that Herd Trio was the best jazz concert he'd ever heard. That's high praise indeed and to some degree a matter of personal preference. But I liked this one too. Euro/Scandi jazz has its own path, primarily, in my book, more cerebral and less corporeal. Herd is a vibes trio: vibraphone, bass and drums, and there was considerable control and distillation in this gig. Maybe some was from the band playing fully acoustic, so no bass amp and drums played at a restrained volume. It's hard work playing a bass acoustic in this context, and any such playing will be stronger and less busy. Either way, the bass was firm and consistent and the drums were gentle and detailed. Both very nice, and I very much liked the solos they laid out, similarly careful and discrete. The bass solo was particularly nice: quite daring in its chromaticism. Very nice. On the other side of all this was the vibes. Panu was nothing like as restrained as his fellows, I guess partly because the volume of the vibes suited the acoustic performance and partly because he looks to me to be just like that. He started with the most delicate of finger-tapped vibes and this was lovely, but soon enough the energy raised and the sheer enjoyment was evident. Great. The music was mostly written by the band and all members provided tunes. Bassist Miko's was an intriguingly sparse open thing bringing mystical thought, or just snowy cold, to my mind. Panu whistled the melody and even a solo in one tune and, although he's a better vibraphonist than whistler, it was a nicely lyrical touch. Polyester bobby (?) was the most up tune of the night, by drummer Tuomas, and I particularly noticed the oddly timed ostinato he'd given to bass. They also played a few tunes from the era of Finnish tango by Toivo Kärki (?). This was a seriously nice concert with energy and life but also with neatness and control. It's not surprising: they often go together.
Herd Trio played at the Finnish Embassy. Herd Trio comprise Panu Savolainen (vibes), Mikko Pallinen (bass) and Tuomas Timonen (drums).