|Review courtesy of All About Jazz:
Reedist John Tchicai is par for the Triot course in Sudden Happiness. Tchicai’s work on tenor sax, as well as bass clarinet and vocals, is wholly en suite with this vividly youthful pianoless trio featuring Stefan Pasborg on drums, Nicolai Munch on bass, and Mikko Innanen on alto, soprano, and baritone saxes. The wise restraint of the performances adds poignancy to their ensemble work and improvisations upon smartly arranged compositions, something uncommon among looser or so-called freer brands of jazz as this, which often rely on unmitigated performances not unlike an erotic strangulation S&M session gone hideously wrong as prelude to a CSI episode.
“Berber” offers a fine example of avant-roots depth in spite, or probably because of, its melodic and rhythmic unfussiness. Initially, its marching Africanized pulsating groove is finely honed on the sharp edges of Tchicai’s tenor percussive attack, with hints of tonal melancholy, as well as some playfulness, within its reach throughout his instrument’s wide range of expression. He displays the unsullied chops, quality of tone, intellectual store, and technical facility expected from him. Furthermore, here, as well as throughout the remaining eight performances, he plays according to the conceptual scaffold of the musical structure at hand, rather than simply imposing himself upon it and disregarding the given plans of the edifice. By the time Innanen jumps in on soprano, in a rather attractive fashion, the Middle Eastern tease is full and frontal, backed by a winning interaction between bass and drums, as the composition dissolves on an approaching coda restating some of its melodic core. Did this one warrant a more extended ejaculatory musical permissiveness nonetheless?
What’s not to recommend in a disc encompassing the ass-swinging felicity of “Appear,” the bowed gravitas of “Undercurrent,” the classic poetic Beatnik hipness of “Second Night,” and the fertility squeezed from Victor Young’s theme for the movie Samson and Delilah? The live renditions in this CD, in which most of the material stems from Innanen’s pen, are finely mixed and recorded. Its packaging is simply superb. The level of musicianship displayed by this trio must be closely examined and further capitalized upon, as they obviously can handle any specimen within the fauna and flora of jazz.