2

Olli Hirvonen: New Helsinki

Roger Farbey By

Sign in to view read count
Olli Hirvonen: New Helsinki
Hailing from Finland but now resident in Brooklyn, New York, Olli Hirvonen won first prize in the 2016 Socar Montreux Jazz Electric Guitar Competition. Significantly, the jury was presided over by John McLaughlin.

"Arps" opens with cascades of Robert Fripp-like quick-fire obligato notes, rapidly ascending and descending the fretboard and instantly hooking the listener. The tentative beginning to "Gravity" belies its complexity, first sounding the very essence of McLaughlin's 4th Dimension but by the guitar break Hirvonen's guitar begins to emulate the allegrissimo glissandi so typical of Allan Holdsworth in full flight. There's also some fine tenor work here from Walter Smith III.

It's not all sound and fury though, as tracks like the intricately subtle "Invisible" attest. From the outset, with its keen memorable guitar-led head, the frenetic-paced "Fundamental" is storming and one of the album's highlights. "N.E.B." benefits from superb ensemble interplay between the horns and guitar and the lengthy "Absolute" is a positive tour de force for trumpeter Adam O'Farrill. So the album is by no means merely a showpiece for Hirvonen. It's very much a team effort, but undoubtedly the guitarist's strong and imaginative compositions are key. Hirvonen himself is something of a stylistic magpie, having the rare ability to play anything from coruscating metal to fluid, bluesy guitar as heard on the lyrical "Lavola."

With the recent untimely passing of guitar maestro Larry Coryell and the venerable McLaughlin currently on a 'farewell' U.S. tour (hopefully not), the World probably is in need of another jazz guitar hero right now. As depicted on the inner liner of New Helsinki, Hirvonen holds an enviable Fender Jazzmaster (a solid indicator that this guy means business), and on the strength of this album he's most definitely a contender for guitar hero status.

Track Listing

Arps; Gravity; Invisible; Fundamental; N.E.B; Absolute; Lavola.

Personnel

Olli Hirvonen: guitar; Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone; Adam O’Farrill: trumpet; Luke Marantz: piano, Fender Rhodes; Marty Kenney: bass; Nathan Ellman-Bell: drums.

Album information

Title: New Helsinki | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Edition Records

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Mono No Aware
Roberto Pianca Sub Rosa
Live at NIR Studios
Georg Graewe, Kjell Nordeson, Jon Raskin Trio
Breathe
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Beau Bow de Lune
Val McCallum
Jesup Wagon
James Brandon Lewis
Songs For Tracy
Frank Macchia

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.