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The Jouni Jarvela Group: A Grand Day Out

Anthony Shaw By

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The Jouni Järvelä Group is rather exceptional in that over half of the material is written by band members other than its saxophonist/leader. Within the same piece the music can swing from a punctuated melodic Pink Floydian wash to a Wes Montgomerian excursion, and back via a Zappa-style freeform multilogue. That said, Järvelä is a player with a strong preference for understatement.

Featuring names well-established on the Finnish modern music scene, this second album contains a mix of live tracks selected from a 2005 tour of Finland. Only months before the start of the tour a major change in the line-up forced Järvelä to replace departing percussionist Marko Timonen with Audun Kleive. Järvelä had mailed Kleive to see if he was interested and available, and has been rewarded with assertive but sensitive performances from the Norwegian drummer.

The band is neatly balanced between Mikkonen's flowing piano and new guitarist Marsi Nyman's quirky, processed guitar. On Järvelä's "Three Questions on a Starry Night, the sax leads the intergalactic romp, but Mikkonen and Nyman take the melody on multiple sorties into echoing twilight as well as into low-key, homey acoustic zones, before Järvelä ushers the craft back to land. There are three other extended ten minute-plus romps on the album.

When the sax, piano or guitar share center stage it is hard to tell who is in the driver's seat. Some may construe this to be a weakness, but it leads to a very deeply integrated band, where everyone leans trustingly on each other. The recording is very clean, the music is lean, and the players are nothing short of mean.

The album seems to be named in deference to the English animated series featuring the bumbling hero Wallace and his wisely silent dog Grommit, who typically end an adventure at home in slippers in front of a gas fire, exclaiming "That was a Grand Day Out. The band is in turn lax and sharp, investigating avenues occasionally precipitous, sometimes close to mundane, yet always treating them with a multi-instrumental approach that gives the music space as well as intensity. It sounds, in fact, as though there were a considerable number of grand nights out on the tour.


Track Listing: Mundus Senescit; Dr. Mandolin's Cabinet; T

Personnel: Jouni J

Title: A Grand Day Out | Year Released: 2007

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