Taivaantemppeli - Jazz Liisa 02. 1973 Finland
CD issue: 2016 Svart (with Unisono Quartet)
LP issue: 2016 Svart
This will be our first report on what I (and many others) consider the most significant archival find since Long Hair dug out the SWF Sessions. As the label notes, this is as significant for Finland as the John Peel tapes are for the UK. I've heard 4 albums so far (2 CDs), and have 2 more here (1 CD). There were 8 initially and another batch was just released. I plan on buying them all, unless I hear something that points that it might be out of my interest area (like Unisono - see below). All of these are "live in the studio" (Liisankatu Studios in Helsinki), and were recorded in front of a modest audience, and broadcast on national radio. What a break for all of us that these were maintained for future generations (though some were apparently re-recorded back over unfortunately). Each recording is being released on vinyl separately, with two recordings combined for the CDs. Perhaps unbelievably, the sessions were set at 40 minutes flat, so it ended up being the perfect length for LPs and 2-for-1 CDs!
Our feature today is for Taivaantemppeli, which translates to The Temple of Heaven. I think I could stop right there, and have everyone's curiosity piqued. It appears the band was a loose collective born out of Unisono, and may have not been a touring concern. The broadcast was recorded on November 21, 1973. Taivaantemppeli play in a decidedly edgy rock-jazz format, similar to other northern European bands of the early 70s. This isn't breezy fusion, but rather the rough edge sound that modern listeners crave. The primary composer is Make Lievonen, whose name I recognized for releasing a very obscure fusion album in the late 70s. He was also the bassist in the Unisono Quartet. But the two main solo protagonists are what makes this album special: Pekka Rechart on electric guitar and Matti Jakola on flute. Rechart in particular lights it up, and possesses a delicious fuzz tone guitar sound, reminding me a bit of Elonkorjuu. Jakola's flute provides the softer edges, but wails at all the right times. Not to be overshadowed, Olli Ahvenlahti's piano and Rhodes work adds just the right amount of atmosphere and backbone. And the hand percussion only fuels the fire. For certain, the compositions are rather straightforward, and much time is given to soloing. But this is an instrumental rock album as played by experienced jazz warriors. The final track 'Lisa' is sublime, mixing both atmospheric flute with a heavier guitar based climax. Much of this recording reminds me of Wolfgang Dauner's Et Cetera, and that's high praise indeed. Overall a can't miss item for fans of early 70s jazz rock.
I'm not going to feature the first Jazz Liisa album separately. I recognized the name Unisono from a later fusion album. This is a bit different and it is very good for what it is: A straight instrumental jazz album. Piano based, with plenty of sax soloing, and a bit squonky towards the end at that. I do like it, but it's not terribly distinctive, and gets away from my personal interest area. As 40 minutes of bonus material to Taivaantemppeli, it's great to have, but I wouldn't buy the LP if that's what I was collecting. Solid 3 stars/Gnosis 9 here.