Olli Hirvonen: Displace

Glenn Astarita By

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A recipient of numerous awards and honors, Finnish guitarist Olli Hirvonen relocated to New York in 2011 where he attended the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. And on his maiden album for this label, the artist craftily fuses punk jazz, modern jazz, jazz fusion and noise music into a well-rounded, and sometimes psyched out presentation, highlighting his compositional scope and tenacious penchant for generating lofty concentrations of excitement.

Hirvonen is a marksman via his intense phrasings and distortion-laced crunch chords amid spiraling solos and animated sound-sculpting maneuvers, while occasionally drilling downward from the upper registers. As the quartet effortlessly navigates through difficult time signatures with the ease of taking candy away from a baby. Add a surfeit of mind-blowing dynamics, since the quartet intermittently dishes out swaying cadences, speed riffing, restraint and harmonically pleasing sub-plots, as the guitarist's rapid-fire machine gun-like attack on "Displace" is followed by pianist Luke Marantz's redevelopment of the primary theme and overall impetus.

The quartet is apt to switch gears on a nanosecond's notice, supplemented with an asynchronous blend of conventional jazz grooves and out of the norm deviations riding above an off-centered rhythmic axis. On "Size Constancy" Hirvonen and Marantz execute a sinewy elongated theme with contrapuntal voicings, as the pianist eventually sweetens the pot with melodic notes. Here, the guitarist steps out with a fluid and towering jazz-based solo.

"Tactile" offers more of the leader's fire-breathing distortion lines, performed at near lightspeed atop knotty flows and the rhythm section's zesty attack. However, the final track, "Unravel," closes out the album on a tender note. At this juncture, the guitarist's acoustic guitar phraseology poses similarities to American fingerpicking icons John Fahey and Leo Kottke. Indeed, Hirvonen's immense talents and salient concepts should not go unnoticed.

Track Listing

No Light; Displace; Nondescript; Size Constancy; Faction; Tactile; Unravel.


Olli Hirvonen: guitar; Luke Marantz: piano; Marty Kenney: bass; Nathan Ellman-Bell: drums.

Album information

Title: Displace | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Ropeadope


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