Alexi Tuomarila: Noaidi

Tuomarila is a young pianist from Finland who studied in Belgium and currently lives in Paris. He recorded this tune with a tight Belgian group that has fully embraced his vision of jazz. A vision that could be best defined as a post-Coltrane conception of the quartet, with a very organic basis. The global sound is thick and heavy, and each instrument contributes to it rather than focusing on solo feats. Rhythm is also a key element, and the structure is never formal. This announces some very promising talents.

March 03, 2008 · 0 comments


Janita: No Words

Crossover projects like this run the risk of pleasing no one. Too jazzy for pop fans, and too pop-oriented for jazzcats. Is there a market in the middle, where pop, jazz and world music all meet together, but don't succumb to the mind-numbing sameness of smooth jazz? I hope so for Janita's sake. She has built her Seasons of Life CD on a strong foundation—great melodic material, well sung and stylishly played. This Finnish-born singer enjoyed some successes at a very young age, and had toured extensively around her native country before her 17th birthday, but she decided that a big career required a move to New York. This 2006 releases suggests that she made the right move, and even if it hasn't made a splash, it has left behind some very big ripples. Janita reminds me of Basia, who also elevated the crossover category for a spell in the late 1980s. And like Basia (born Basia Trzetrzelewska in Jaworzno, Poland), Janita has assimilated a large dose of the Brazilian idiom into her music. They both even dropped their last names, just like a Brazilian World Cup star. Call it the North Europe bossa nova, if you will, but the sound has a crisp rightness that begs for airplay.

February 14, 2008 · 1 comment


Jouni Järvelä: Enkelin Kannel

Järvelä joined the UMO Jazz Orchestra (funded by the Finnish government) as a teenager, a considerable achievement for one so young, and promptly distinguished himself as a leading solo voice. With his own band he lets his cultural heritage wash over him, and on “Enkelin Kannel,” his solo on soprano saxophone is surely one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, improvisations of the last two decades. Like a wild bird taking flight it soars effortless above the ensemble, its aesthetically pleasing symmetry and melodic construction using the rising line to dramatic and profound effect. A delight in an era where rote, pattern-based improvising has become the norm.

November 19, 2007 · 0 comments


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