woensdag 16 maart 2011

Verneri Pohjola - Aurora ****

American jazz journalists seldom show any intrest in European jazz. EST is the only European band that ever got on the cover of Downbeat, which says a lot. However: the European scene has a lot to offer. In Scandinavia alone there seems to be plenty of intresting jazz musicians.
One I got to know thanks to the German Act-label is trumpet player Verneri Pohjola. Upon hearing the first notes, you think: this must be Norway, someone like Nils Petter Molvaer or Arve Henriksen. Wrong! Pohjola is from Finland, and this cd (his debut) was released there in 2009. It was quite a success, and now Act reissues it to give it the international audience it deserves.
 The cd starts very solemnly and slowly. The second piece is more uptempo, very well constructed, clocking in at about 12 minutes, with a bass clarinet and a string quartet adding classical and folky colours, with some heavy drumming, a beautiful piano solo, and so on.
The mood will shift a lot on this cd: Pohjola differs the instrumentation from piece to piece, creating a rich palette of musical colours.
Pohjola must be a fan of Miles Davis, since he tackles Rodrigo's Concerto De Aranjuez, but he does it in an entirely different manner, reworking it as a trumpet/bass duo for the biggest part.
Great playing througout, not only of Pohjola himself. He seems to stem from a musical family. His father, bassist Pekka Pohjola, plays on a couple of tracks on this recording but died soon afterwards. This cd is dedicated to him.

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