April Jazz Espoo 2009; Day 1 - 2
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 threadsflowing lines, gradual developments and sparse rhythmicsthough 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.