Fiasko Records

Kalle Kalima

born 1973, Finland
Guitarist, Composer


Every society recalibrates its cultural climate through the example set by a few courageous souls voraciously hunting for novel ways of expression. Best known for abrasive and angular guitar stylings, the man presented in this booklet is a vanguardian harbinger both in the tonal and atonal environment.

The pulsating and provocative city of Berlin has been dubbed the improvising capital of Europe. After taking up residence in this neon-lit metropolis of contradiction, Kalle Kalima has experieced a revelation in his attitude towards free music. Hailing from the culturally diverse city of Helsinki, Kalima began his journey into sound with piano lessons at the age of six. Five years later he switched over to the guitar and has never looked back. The man's most recent steps in the world of academe have been taken at the jazz department of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and at the Hanns Eisler Conservatory in Berlin. These environments have presented Kalle with the opportunity to study with such influential teachers as ace trombonist Jiggs Whigham, saxpert Jukka Perko and guitar demigod Raoul Björkenheim.

In his capacity as a composer, Kalima looks at the world through a set of two telescopes: One lense reflects the free jazz tradition pioneered by the Coltrane-Coleman axis, the other looks at the Sibelian soundscapes of our indigenous type of Fenno-Ugrian creative madness. Moulded together inside Kalle's mind, these components yield tunes of the highest degree of originality and quality. In his capacity as a guitarist, the man's jangly playing echoes his early love of Wes Montgomery but really takes its cue from the more postmodernist sweet n' sour meanderings of Bill Frisell, Fred Frith and the aforementioned Raoul Björkenheim. With impressive elan Kalima makes the raw-and-robust-but-still-enchantingly-fluent style his own.

So far Kalle has worked with trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, sax players Kari "Sonny" Heinilä, Volker Schlott and Henrik Wahlsdorf, drummers Mikko Hassinen and Teppo Mäkynen and the Avanti! Orchestra. As you read this, he is tossing more and more rocks into the vivid waters of the Berlin improv pool. The first recorded evidence of this activity is documented on the Momentum Impakto album Haw Haw released in 2000.

On the whole, the beginning of the 21st century was a hectic time for our man. His own groups, the Kalima Trio (Lasse Lindgren on bass, Mika Kallio on drums, Kalima on guitar) and Nuijamiehet (as before, but with the addition of saxophonist Mikko Innanen) both came up with a fascinating album in 2000. While these discs are 100% noteworthy in their own right, aficionados of New European Guitar will be delighted to learn that the featured guest on the Kalima Trio album is French string guerrilla Marc Ducret.

Taking untamed electric guitar straight into the future, Kalle Kalima stands firmly in the forefront of Nordic aesthetic anarchy. A most welcome addition to the lineage of innovative Finnish six-string stranglers, he is nothing if not destined to become a feared contender.

© Petri Silas (FIMIC)

Selected recordings

  • Johnny LaMarama (2003, metarecords)
  • Soi: Pehmeä (2003, Impala)
  • Nuijamiehet (2000, Fiasko Records FRCD-2)
  • Kalima Trio: Hippycone (2000, abovoice 1004)
  • Momentum Impakto: Haw Haw (J4E4741)