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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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VERNERI POHJOLA Quartet

Ancient History

ACT 9517-2

 

 


1, Deism [11:10]; 2. But This One Goes In Four [9:08]; 3. Ancient History [6:28]; 4. Hyperballad [5:01]; 5. White View [8:50]; 6. Cheap Taxi Adventure [9:33]; 7. Thunderous Thoughts [6:38]; 8. Ballad 18 [5:42].

Verneri Pohjola (trumpet0, Aki Rissanen (piano), Joonas Riippa (drums), Antti Lötjönen (bass), Jukka Perko (alto saxophone on track 6), Tatu Rönkkö (percussion on tracks 4,5 & 8)

All compositions by Verneri Pohjola except Hyperballad by Björk

Rec. by Mikko Raita at E-Studio, Helsinki, September 28-30, 2011

ACT 9517-2 [62:00]

 

Dedicated to Ensti (his son?) Pohjola’s first disc made within the ACT family is a great record. I was hoping that maybe by chance Ensti was a girl then I could have made a cheap crack about Pohjola’s daughter in an allusion to Sibelius! However, if this disc is anything to go by then Pohjola is certainly another great Finn. With a population of only 5.3 million Finland punches well above its weight musically; Sibelius was one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers and today those like Rautavaara maintain the tradition of great classical music and jazz is yet another area of music in which the Finns excel, though Finnish jazz still remains somewhat in the shadows when compared to US, and even British jazz, but albums like this one show that it deserves to emerge into the light of success. The disc opens with a long, slow, introspective ballad with long melodic lines of great beauty in which Pohjola establishes his credentials as a trumpeter of considerable abilities explaining why the people at ACT sought him out to make a disc for them. A complete change of pace for the second track allows pianist Aki Rissanen to show his prowess, ably backed by drums and bass and with Pohjola coming in midway through and picking up the main theme. The disc’s title track comes next which slows the pace back down. It should be expected, I suppose, that music reflects the reality of a country and therefore the music here is not likely to sound as if it comes from somewhere where the sun always shines and has vast open spaces as opposed to one in which, while the sun never sets for 10 weeks during the summer, it never rises above the horizon for 8 weeks during the winter, and with two thirds of its land covered by forest and a tenth by water its music is more likely to sound restrained rather than being imbued with a bubbly effervescence associated with sunnier climes. That is not to say that there aren’t moments of joyful sounds. Hyperballad, the only track not written by Pohjola, is one by the singer Björk, and in the notes Pohjola explains that the lyrics show where the inspiration for the arrangement came from, which include the lines “Every morning I walk towards the edge – And throw things off – Like Car parts, bottles, and cutlery...I listen to the sounds they make – On their way down...” That can certainly be heard, particularly the cutlery, thanks to clever use of the cymbals by drummer Tatu Rönkkö, and highly effective it is too. White View is another slow number with some lovely pianism by Rissanen with a very ‘classical’ feel to it. Track six lets alto saxophonist Jukka Perko in on the act halfway through in the intriguingly titled Cheap Taxi Adventure an upbeat number in the funk groove and I enjoyed “the ride” very much. Thunderous Thoughts has us back in quartet territory and a fast little number that really highlights Pohjola’s trumpeting talent to the full and again featuring a great solo from pianist Rissanen. The last tune here is Ballad 18 a hauntingly lovely one that brings percussionist Rönkkö back into the fold to help create an aura of mystery and reflection taking us back full circle to a similar feeling from the disc’s opening number. This is a tight little band full of promise, with a great future and well worth keeping an eye out for.

Steve Arloff



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