Koma Saxo is a highly potent new five-piece produced by the visionary Berlin-based Swedish bassist-producer Petter Eldh. The lineup brings together five heavy jazz names on the Berlin–Nordics axis, including Eldh on bass, Christian Lillinger on drums and the frontline of three saxes: Otis Sandsjö, Jonas Kullhammar and Mikko Innanen. Despite the top-billing names, make no mistake: this is not just another “supergroup”, but a real working band with their own sound and musical trajectory.
Eldh’s vision for the Koma Saxo sound is one step ahead of what groovy avantgarde jazz could sound like in 2019, involving postproduction work with the raw material recorded in Helsinki in connection to Koma Saxo’s successful debut at the We Jazz Festival. Both studio and live tapes exist side by side, and Eldh goes deep in molding the final music to be heard on the upcoming Koma Saxo releases.
The Koma Saxo debut LP on We Jazz Records is a revelation for anyone seeking contemporary jazz music with edge and vision. From the opener, the brief but fiery “Kali Koma”, right into the pastoral finale, “Så Rinner Tiden Bort”, Eldh & co are on it, like a tightly-knitted posse of jazz assassins on the run. At times, the pieces fall gloriously apart, just enough in order to be ripe to put back together again. Take “Ostron Koma” for example. From the intense opening seconds full of suspension, the track moves forward with breathtaking swing, then onto full-on free breakout, to be born anew.
In addition to scorching originals by all members of the band, Koma Saxo tackle a handful of carefully-picked and highly inspirational borrowed tunes from Finnish legends Matti Oiling, Edward Vesala and the Swedish composer Olle Adolphson. Even at their most freeform, Koma Saxo have an underlying “threat” of swinging hard. At their most peaceful, their hymns are full of genuine serenity and charisma, enabling them to never fall into easy sentimentality.
Whatever the mood, Koma Saxo are like lightning in a box, yearning to be set free.