Mika Pohjola is a man of many talents. He runs the New York-based Blue Music Group--"the small label with big music." He has collaborated on albums of religious and traditional Finnish, Swedish music, given classical recitals, accompanied vocalists Jill Walsh and Johanna Grüssner and gigged with diverse jazz aggregations. It would be a shame if any of this got in the way of his achievement with this album, which presents him with a chance to stand up and be counted as one of the most gifted jazz pianists of his generation. Playing in the ...read more
From studying music theory with his father to attending Vantaa Music Institute and the Royal College of Music, Mika Pohjola's life has been entwined with both music and the pursuit of knowledge. His work mirrors his desire to journey ever outward, searching for ways to incorporate the various influences and inspirations which have helped him create an oeuvre which defies easy categorization.
Early Classical Life
All About Jazz: You initially studied piano and music theory with your father, then went on to also sing in the Helsinki Cathedral Boys Choir. In ...read more
With Northern Sunrise, pianist Mika Pohjola steps into the space between old and new worlds. Close attention reveals a diverse range of influences here, from the worlds of Baroque and the avant-garde, to old school bop and '70s rock-fusion. There's a little solo piano, some trio arrangements, and wonderful quintet explorations. But what makes this perhaps one of the best of 2009 is that it is jazz that truly captures the emotion, refinement, and power of great classical music.
For this reason, it seems like a mistake to pigeonhole this as a crossover album. Pohjola plays Grieg's Peasant's Song" and ...read more
Meet Mika Pohjola: Mika was born in Finland in 1971. He was an eager young pianist in learning Debussy, Gershwin and Grieg, but didn't want to practice his Beethoven. In 1987, his contract with Beethoven was released by jazz at an undisclosed sum. He moved to Sweden to study with the great Alvaro Is Rojas. While seriously studying tangible information of jazz harmony, improvisation and ear-training, he also graduated from the Royal College in Stockholm. In 1992-94, he was challenged by the beautiful ears, minds and hearts of Herb Pomeroy, Gary Burton, Ed Bedner and many others at Berklee. Starting ...read more
Perhaps the most intriguing question about a tribute album like this is the original performer's reaction to a modern shakeup of their work. Approval? Outrage? Indifference? A key factor, aside from quality, might be the artist's inclination for departure from convention. If so, Finnish composer Toivo Kärki probably would approve much, if not everything, about this 2005 release by a fellow countryman.
Leivonen Lumimyrskyssä is a documentary as well as musical experience by pianist and composer Mika Pohjola, who now lives in New York. A large roster of players in multiple ensembles perform fifteen songs; the CD also ...read more
Mika Pohjola's Yuletide Voices provide us the most refreshing take on holiday music released this year. These self-produced Scandinavian Yuletide Voices are exactly that, Scandinavian, with a disclaimer... there are non-Scandinavian pieces here. Pohjola leads a bright orchestra of voices capably supported by an eclectic group of musicians through a truly international assembly of songs, evoking a myriad of holiday moods. This, coupled with an unusual and not so unusual repertoire, make for a successful holiday offering.
The Yuletide is metaphorically related to the warmth of the season within the cold of the season. These players and singers ...read more
New York City based pianist/composer Mika Pohjola is noted for his forward thinking strategies, due to his multifaceted and thoroughly impressive jazz discography. However, this project sheds yet another light on the artist’s all encompassing visions and penchant for delving into non-jazz related activities. This release is founded upon the works of novelist Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories. Pohjola states that these works are “often portrayed as children’s fairy tales,” while adding, “Moomin stories can be enjoyed on many levels and at any age.” With that, the keyboardist has arranged, recorded and produced this absolutely lovely set, consisting of twenty-four lilting ...read more