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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 pieces sung by Finland's Johanna Grüssner. This predominately Scandinavian aggregation combines the rhythms, strings and richly melodic frameworks for Grussner’s charming and altogether whispery vocals. The musicians do indeed cast fairytale type environs throughout the dreamlike and generally upbeat thematic forays. Throughout, Pohjola spins a web of multi-textural pastiches of sound in support of the flowing movements.
Yusuke Yamamoto augments the festivities with percussion, vibes, flutes and drum programming, whereas Ms. Grüssner’s lush and rather heavenly vocals dictate the storyline. This is an enhanced CD, featuring sheet music and additional info. However, for us non-Scandinavian speaking people, the splendor and power of music leaves just a bit more to our imaginational aptitudes. To that end, the ensemble has designed a stunningly attractive epic that should enjoy wide-ranging appeal. Highly recommended.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.