Helsinki, Finland born pianist/composer, Mika Pohjola continues to accelerate his stature within his adopted New York City headquarters. Here, the artist follows up his excellent trio-based “Live At The Blue Note” recording with this endearing and rather charming set titled, Sound Of Village. However on this release, Pohjola shares the spotlight with percussionist Yusuke Yamamoto, for a series of inspiring duets.
The musicians’ first crossed paths while studying at the renowned “Berklee College of Music” yet as the story goes, never played together until several years later, thus taking their articulate and altogether captivating blend of improvisational speak, sweet-tempered melodies and world groove style interplay on the road. With this outing, Pohjola performs on the harpsichord, acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes while Yamamoto’s percussion arsenal includes; drums, talking drum and other indigenous instruments. On the opener, “Dandelion” the pianist executes a simply stated and subtly beautiful childlike ballad in conjunction with Yamamoto’s delicate tonal shadings and resonant pulse. - The duo engages in call and response type dialogue atop quaint and memorably melodic themes as they also convey an overall organic tone.
Meanwhile on pieces such as “Bulan Mei” and “Nature’s Choice” we find Pohjola performing rhythmic motifs amid lush harmonies in concert with Yamamoto’s shrewd utilization of woodblocks, cymbals and bells. Throughout, the percussionist renders musical counterpoint to Pohjola’s intricate maneuvers, as he often resides within the same pitch.
Yamamoto provides Pohjola with a samba beat on the delightful and somewhat poignant, “Season’s Greetings”, whereas Pohjola spins a folksy melody that elicits notions of American Civil War era themes. Basically, Sound of Village offers a stepping stone for one’s imagination and is certainly one of the year’s finest offerings! Highly recommended