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Live Reviews

April Jazz Espoo 2009; Day 1 - 2

By Published: May 6, 2009

Here were five young musicians with material of their own, partly composed by Vesala, singing anthems of the angers of angst no doubt felt by many in their young audience. At least that is how it started in 2002—now much of their crowd is jacketed and fashionable, although the songs and the theatrics still tell the same stories. The act is both polished and frenetic, and still talks to an element in many not-so-young adults, just as the seven month's pregnant Luoti, dressed in diaphanous chemise and tights, clearly demonstrated that motherhood is no one-way ticket to serenity or conventionality.

However, most interesting for followers of the nu-jazz scene in Finland was the evening's appearance of Verneri Pohjola`s newest ensemble, Aurora. Pohjola has been a leading light among this scene for most of this millennium, playing alongside Emma Salokoski in Quintessence, and then becoming prominent in the flagship of the genre, the Ilmiliekki Quartet. This band shot to fame in 2002 as winners of the Young Nordic Jazz Comet Award, which led to their producing two well-received CDs on TUM records, March of the Alpha Males and Take It with Me.

With his old bassist Antti Lotjönen behind him, the new constellation has the trumpeter alongside four prominent musicians playing exclusively his own compositions. The music has many similar thematic threads—flowing lines, gradual developments and sparse rhythmics—though maybe a greater sense of spaciousness. The pianist here is Aki Rissanen, whose background is even further left-field than Pohjola's multi-talented former companion Tuomo Prättälä (see Day 3 for details). The inclusion of UMO's own reed specialist Pepa Päivinen on baritone sax and bass clarinet also gives Pohjola more support in his lead role. Their version of Pohjola's "Askisto" from Ilmiliekki's second album echoed this latter development in its lean minimalist textures. This was music to prepare listeners for the nippy air and clear northern sky awaiting the audience outside.

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