Song of a New Decade
“Blue in Nublu”
Growing up in a small town in Finland, Mikko Innanen picked up the saxophone at the age of 10, dipping into his father’s jazz record collection — Bird, Coltrane, Monk — for inspiration. Twenty years later, he finally made the pilgrimage to New York City, spending weeks and months in the jazz mecca that had loomed large in his imagination. During one of his extended stays, Innanen gathered the courage to approach veteran jazz artists William Parker and Andrew Cyrille — both of whom had impacted the jazz world before he was born in 1978 — about possibly recording with him. He had performed with drummer Cyrille in Helsinki, but didn’t have a personal connection with bassist Parker at that point; nonetheless, both men replied in the affirmative. The results were captured on the 2015 double-disc Song for a New Decade (TUM), a collection of composed trio tunes comprising Disc 1, and improvised saxophone-drum duets making up Disc 2. “Blue in Nublu,” our selection, hails from the former. A deeply bluesy, nocturnal track, it features Innanen’s meandering, boozy alto bumping up against Cyrille and Parker’s rhythmic, slightly menacing textures. The drummer’s brilliance is revealed in a stark yet sparkling solo section. “Some of the tunes are rather traditional in the sense that we are improvising over a set of chord changes or a form (‘Blue in Nublu’ even has lyrics),” Innanen writes in the liner notes. “Yet I hoped we could play them in a loose and spontaneous manner.” Mission accomplished. And while there is no vocal on the track, you can read the lyrics to “Blue in Nublu” in the album’s liners.