A Kubrick Odyssey (Downbeat)
Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick had an uncanny knack for crafting vivid, bizarre but lived-in worlds within each of his films. Picture the snowedin, mind-warping horrors of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining; the dehumanized, sex-and-violence dystopia of A Clockwork Orange; the candlelit sensuality of Barry Lyndon; or the spaceage transcendentalism of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima had a unique opportunity to step inside those worlds. While killing time on tour in Belgium in November 2006, Kalima happened upon an exhibition of artifacts from Kubrick’s films.
“It was incredible,” Kalima said over the phone from his Berlin home. “I got so impressed that he basically created whole worlds for his films, so I decided to take an impression of the spaces and places in the films and started thinking, what kind of music would fit in the Korova Milk Bar [from A Clockwork Orange], or what kind of music would be playing in the bar at the Overlook Hotel?”
The result is Some Kubricks Of Blood (TUM Records), nine tracks inspired by five of the director’s films, composed for Kalima’s unusual quartet K-18, named for the Finnish equivalent of the X rating. “Kubrick had a lot of stress with his films being considered violent and bad for people,” Kalima said. “I think they’re psychologically interesting. They’re more about the fear of violence and are totally against violence.”
Kalima’s group includes saxophonist Mikko Innanen, a classmate of the guitarist at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy, and bassist Teppo Hauta-aho, a veteran of jazz and classical ensembles who has played alongside Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton and Veli Kujala on quarter-tone accordion — an instrument he invented. Realizing Kubrick’s frequent use of contemporary composers like Ligeti and Penderecki in his scores, the guitarist fused the two inspirations into one.
Thus, 2001’s spaceport lounge is treated to an abstracted, antigravity blues on “Earth Light Room”; “Parris Island” (the site of boot camp in Full Metal Jacket) travels from the idyllic peace of its surroundings through the distorted violence of its military indoctrination; and the druglaced dairy of “Korova Milk Bar” gradually builds from smooth delirium into a bit of, as its customer Alex would say, the old ultra-violence.
Progressive rock was another source of inspiration for Kalima on this album—if not so much musically, where he draws far more on avantgarde jazz and contemporary classical music, than in the genre’s epic concept albums.
“Sometimes I just take my kids to kindergarten, go to my practice room and start playing,” he said. “But in this case I thought it would be really cool to make a whole record with one theme tying it all together. When I was a kid I used to listen to Pink Floyd and all this progressive rock stuff, and they had theme albums. Now for the first time, I’ve tried it myself.”
Kalima’s rock influences are more evident in Johnny La Marama, his collective trio with bassist Chris Dahlgren and drummer Eric Schaefer, which combines Naked City collage with Frank Zappa humor. He also leads Klima Kalima, a guitar/bass/drums trio with its own new CD, Loru (Enja), on which he triangulates a position somewhere between Wes Montgomery, Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell. With his solo project, Kalle Kalima Pentasonic, the guitarist uses a host of effects and samplers to create a surround-sound experience through five amplifiers arrayed on all sides of his audience.
“I love traditional jazz,” Kalima says, “but there are a lot of kids here in Europe who basically just copy American jazz one to one. Which is kind of sad, because it’s been done so well already. That’s nice if it’s just for showing people a beautiful art form, but things have to move and I’d like to come up with elements from avantrock, improvised jazz and new music and see if anything fresh can be done in this direction. I’m trying to stretch.” —Shaun Brady
Critics over the new Big Band Piece: “Dance Suite for Domestic Animals” played by UMO Big Band in Helsinki 25.9.2009:
“Kalima is at the moment the most interesting Finnish composer and guitarist…Free, funny with a lot of facettes…”
(Jukka Hauru, Helsingin Sanomat, 27.9.09 (transl. KK))
“Kalima reveals that he has absorbed a wealth of influences over his 35 years, citing particularly Frank Zappa, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Mingus and Ligeti, not to mention his former local mentors and composers, bassist Teppo Hauta-Aho and guitarist Raoul Björkenheim. With a palette encompassing such variety it is truly inspiring to listen to a musician who has expanded his own resources into a composer’s ample toolkit, and yet still retains his individual touch and style. Keep it up Kalle!”
(Anthony Shaw, All About Jazz, 14.10.2009)
Kalle Kalima: Ein Finne in Berlin
Kalle Kalima ist mehr als nur ein Gitarrist. Wenn er mit seinen Bands wie Klima Kalima oder Johnny La Marama spielt, scheint man zwielichtige Gestalten zum Leben erweckt zu sehen und Filmmusik ohne Bilder zu erleben. Die Energie und Bühnenpräsenz des 35jährigen Finnen und seiner Bands ist immens, er zieht seine Zuhörer in einen wahren Strudel von Sounds, Energie, eruptiven Ausbrüchen und leisen Miniaturen.
(Autor: ballhorn, GITARRE & BASS 5/2009 Seite 64)
…Kalle Kalima is smart, humorful and extremely versatile musician…
(Ralf Dombrowski, Süddeutsche Zeitung 02.02.08)
“Big applause for a band that is on the way to the top.”
(Steve Kuberczyk-Stein, Hessische Nachrichten 18.01.08)
Presenting a combination of reckless abandon and structural thinking, Kalle Kalima is one of the most fascinating Finnish musicians at the moment. …the guitarist has managed to formulate a unique sound both as a musician and as a tunesmith.
(HELSINKI HAPPENS, Petri Silas, Finnland, 01/01)
…with his guitars Kalle Kalima proves to be a far reaching story-telling talent.
(JAZZPODIUM Nr. 2, Frithjof Strauß, 02/01)
JOHNNY LA MARAMA
“They shook loose from cliches and played beyond current categories with vital energy… The trio changes as fast as lighting and with astonishing soverenity from one idiom to another melding reggae, blues, noise and folk elements. Although they excursion into un-researched sounds, they always come back to the point without cheating.”
(LEIPZIGER VOLKSZEITUNG, Bert Noglik, 26/4/04)
“Kalima is Virtuoso who pulls off everything from single notes up to electronically altered hyper-slide guitar. Schaefer is an astounding, scrupulous timekeeper, which he has to be in the rhythmic and melodic chaos that his band mates happily create. Dahlgren´s bass rumbles in sophistication and swings exaltedly. What you want to call this music doesn’t make a difference.”
(JAZZPODIUM, Thomas Wörtche, 4/03)
“The trans-Atlantic allience of Kalima and Schaefer from Berlin with the New York basist Dahlgren works freely in sound imagination, without free jazz associations. The linear structure and eruptive craft of the songs remind one of hip hop, funk or grunge.”
(TIP, Wolf Kampmann, 17/03)
„Expressive experimental Jazz… This trio combines elements from jazz, ska, sphere-music and African rhythms together and develops its own style.
(Jan Lautenbach, www.jazzdimensions.de)
“Kalima’s scores do, however, leave room for extemporization, and a highlight of the set was an intense duet between Hauta-aho and Kujala, whose huge swoops of the accordion bellows were matched by his own dramatic, but completely natural, physicality as his hands moved around the accordion at near-light speed. The music drifted closer to contemporary classical composition, but, with Kalima’s sometimes overdriven, delayed, reverse-attacked tone, approaching a rock stance by way of guitarists like Fred Frith and Derek Bailey. Kalima also utilized preparations like a clothespin on his bottom strings at one point, and other extended approaches (like a metal slide and an eBow), to give his heavily detailed compositions an in-the-moment spontaneity. In a quick chat after the set, Kalima revealed that, while the compositions themselves are quite rigorous, his choice of sounds, through his array of effects pedals, is always spontaneous, making each performance distinct and unique.
The current tour is, in fact, intended to work on and road test the new material. Certainly more advanced in its combination of building blocks that include references to classical composers like Steve Reich and John Cage, Kalima and his K-18 performance bode well for the record, as it represents a clear growth over the less rigid and more improv-heavy Some Kubricks of Blood.”
(John Kelman, All About Jazz, on K-18 at Tampere Jazz Happening 9.11.2010)
Groovy and fine poem-songs
Guitarist Kalle Kalima conquers a new field
An interesting series of concerts at Kanneltalo for this spring begun in regard to jazz in an excellent way. The novelty of the whole concert was in fact Kalle Kalima´s melodically rich and original SOI Ensemble. The band´s new songs were a multifaceted conquer, even an artistic victory, for composer Kalima.
Kalima has studied at the Sibelius Academy as well as in Berlin, where he nowadays lives and works. Formerly he was known as a guitarist leaning to modern and even to free jazz. Despite good single achievements, he has perhaps still been looking for his own, most distinguishing style.
With his poem-songs for SOI Ensemble Kalima surprised with his breezy ingeniousness as a melodician and orchestrator. This time it was not about free or jazz-jazz, but about clearly tonal, at times ethnically inspired songs. Kalima managed even to convert always apparent “ludicrousness” of modern poem-singing to his advantage. That is to say, even the more complex melodies breathed naturally along the lyrics written by Essi Lahtinen as was the case for example in the first-love-ballad “Talvi Suomenlinnassa” beautifully sung by Johanna Iivanainen.
A superb accomplishment in terms of groove was the stylistically Spanish song, ”Terveisiä pilvilinnaan”, in which Kalima performed in a way a breakthrough as a skilled acoustic guitarist, too. However, the top of the night was the juicy soul-bossanova ”Aikaa on”, which revealed a clear hit potential for bigger audiences in its bright groove and fine tonal-melodic hooks.
The original instrumentation of the Ensemble sounded surprisingly well, partly because the sound of the vocalists carried boldly through the songs. There are surely ingredients to a more permanent girl trio. As a solist besides Iivanainen, we heard Eeppi Ursin, the winner of the “Lady Summertime” competition last summer.
(HELSINGIN SANOMAT, Jukka Hauru, 1/2/02)
Kalimas Klangwelt ist sperrig, aber nicht unzugänglich, ein Experimentierfeld, das die Möglichkeiten der E-Gitarre Schritt für Schritt auslotet. Das Solo-Projekt Pentasonic ist dabei eine Art Kernlabor, in dem er in Echtzeit ohne Overdubs mit Räumen, Motiven, Rhythmen, Geräuschen arbeitet, melodisch im Ansatz, orientiert am Flow der Inspiration, uneitel in der Durchführung. Faszinierender Blick in Kalimas Denk- & Performance-Werkstatt.
(Ralf Dombrowski 24.02.09)
…weil er da Zwiegesprächen frönt zwischen Mensch/Gitarrist und Maschine/Elektronik, in denen der Gitarrist KK öfter mal zweitrangig wird, obwohl er auch da insgesamt beeindruckt durch seine Ökonomie, seinen stupenden Sinn für die genau richtige Dosierung an Maschinenkunst, seine Gestaltungskraft, seinen sicheren Sinn für subtile Dramaturgie und alles in allem das deutlich Künstlerische in seinen Klangcollagen und Verfremdungen. Nichts schreit oder schrillt oder blubbert. Seine Beherrschung der Elektronik ist bewundernswert, und das, was er da auf der Gitarre macht, hat eben Sinn und Verstand.
Kalle Kalima blufft nicht. Er ist ein ernst zu nehmender Mann. Mit ihm ist es eher, als entrümple da endlich mal einer den verlotterten Dachboden der ziemlich wild wuchernden Improviserenden Klasse und puste frischen Wind in alle Ecken.
Kalle Kalima ist einfach nur eine ganz große Freude.