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Alexi Tuomarila Trio: Sphere

Roger Farbey By

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Sphere is Alexi Tuomarila's follow-up to Kingdom (Edition, 2017) and Seven Hills (Edition, 2017). But the Finnish pianist has also collaborated with many of jazz's leading lights including Kenny Wheeler, Joey Baron, Jim Black, Bill Evans and Peter Erskine. Tuomarila also appeared on Dark Eyes by the Tomasz Stanko Quintet (ECM, 2010).

Sphere 's opener is the attention-grabbing "Shapeshifter," where Tuomarila plays a fast-paced contrapuntal theme with bass and drums shadowing the swirling piano. "Jord" introduces guest trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, whose dynamic contribution adds a totally new dimension of depth whilst still retaining a sense of space.

Tuomarilo's piano leads on the ruminative "Sirius," with Mats Eilertsen's plaintive pizzicato bass in close pursuit. But here the percussive element is almost imperceptible, so it's effectively a duet. "Boekloev" is unalloyed rhythmic jazz but with the benefit of both a riffy bass line and more of Pohjola's shimmering trumpet. The elegant "Unfold" again sees another virtual duet between bass and piano, but in fact Olavi Louhivuori does add some subtle, brushed drumming, the understated nature of which is crucial.

Pohjola makes one final elegiac appearance on the angular "Krakow," and in between the opening and closing melody lines, his trumpet's short stabbing notes punctuate the piece. On the finale "Celeste," Tuomarila weaves stately, bell-like lines around resonant bass and terse drums. The piano lines evolve with graceful, fluid extemporisation before gently returning to the opening theme. This is a fine and satisfying album where Tuomarila's trio seems to have coalesced into one articulate, comfortable unit.

Track Listing: Shapeshifter; Jord; Origins; Sirius; Boekloev; Unfold; Krakow; Celeste.

Personnel: Alexi Tuomarila: piano; Mats Eilertsen: double bass; Olavi Louhivuori: drums; Verneri Pohjola: trumpet (2, 3, 7).

Title: Sphere | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Edition Records

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