#recentlistening – June 2019 (2 of 2)

Huw Warren & Mark Lockheart – New Day (live at Livio Felluga Winery)
Huw Warren, Mark Lockheart
Release date: 24 May 2019 (CamJazz)
camjazz.com

Abdullah Ibrahim – The Balance
Abdullah Ibrahim, Noah Jackson, Alec Dankworth, Will Terrill, Adam Glasser, Cleave Guyton Jr, Lance Bryant, Andrae Murchison, Marshall McDonald
Release date: 28 June 2019 (Gearbox Records)
abdullahibrahim.bandcamp

Joshua Espinoza Trio – Journey Into Night
Joshua Espinoza, Mikel Combs, Jaron Lamar Davis
Release date: 14 June 2019
joshuaespinoza.com

Alexi Tuomarila Trio (featuring Verneri Pohjola) – Sphere
Alexi Tuomarila, Mats Eilertsen, Olavi Louhivuori, with Verneri Pohjola
Release date: 28 May 2019 (Edition Records)
alexituomarilatrio.bandcamp

Yazz Ahmed – A Shoal of Souls (single*)
Yazz Ahmed, George Crowley, Samuel Hällkvist, Ralph Wyld, Naadia Sheriff, Dudley Phillips, Corrina Silvester, Martin France
Release date: 5 June 2019 (IXCHEL Records / Bandcamp)
yazzahmed.bandcamp
(*the ‘final chapter’ of album La Saboteuse. New album, Polyhymnia, releases in October 2019)

Sean Foran & Stuart McCallum – Counterpart
Sean Foran, Stuart McCallum
Release date: 21 June 2019 (Naim Records)
seanforanstuartmccallum.bandcamp

‘Dream Keeper’ – André Fernandes

Dream Keeper

AN ELECTRIC GUITARIST who has contributed to so many high-profile jazz line-ups, André Fernandes’ Dream Keeper marks his first major international release as leader.

The Portuguese player/composer/recording engineer’s sizeable roster of collaborations includes Lee Konitz, John Hollenbeck, Tomasz Stanko, Avishai Cohen and Jeff Ballard; also contributing to Seven Hills, a fine trio album from (his pianist here) Alexi Tuomarila. With a remaining core personnel of Perico Sambeat (saxes/flute), Demian Cabaud (bass) and Iago Fernandez (drums), Fernandes also invites guest instrumentalists (notably Paulo Gaspar on bass clarinet) to swell an album with an especially chameleonic sound world.

These six originals by Fernandes (plus title track written by saxophonist Sambeat) meld energetic contemporary jazz with crashing prog guitar influences and the kind of folksiness found across the exploratory ’70s Canterbury scene of, say, Caravan, Camel or early Soft Machine – a dizzying experience at times, with a saturation of cross-pollenated textures, requiring focus to become immersed in this undoubtably slick, fast-changing crucible of ideas.

Chifre‘s opening statement of intent begins to colour the impressionistic canvas with torrential alto and guitar lines set within a rhythmic piano/bass/drum vortex; and bass clarinet adds tremendous buoyancy. Anti-Hero is reminiscent of Moutin Reunion Quartet, its assertive Zawinulese melodies (tenor and guitar) so attractive – yet the journey is never straight-ahead, switching to Tuomarila’s typically aqueous piano improvisations over Cabaud’s grungy bass, followed by Fernandes’ appealing guitar effects.

The contrapuntal complexity of Snakes and Ladders is voiced through a panoply of instrumental combinations, Sambeat’s rapid-fire sax extemporisations (at times resembling those of Gilad Atzmon) enhancing drummer Fernandez’s driving energy; and Jack (inspired by a Tim Burton character) erupts into guitar-stomping ferocity, heightened by crazed high-end alto.

Arabat, at over ten minutes, perhaps becomes a little drawn out, particularly after the notable concision of earlier numbers; but tracks such as airy, percussive, samba-grooving Rabbit Hole and concluding Dream Keeper (offering a fantastically gritty, dissonant and almost mystical allure) are where the real energy and excitement of these 46 minutes lie.

Released on 12 February 2016, Dream Keeper is available as CD and high-quality download from Edition Records’ Bandcamp store.

 

André Fernandes guitar
Perico Sambeat alto and tenor saxophones, flute
Alexi Tuomarila piano
Demian Cabaud bass
Iago Fernandez drums
with
Marcelo Araújo percussion (tracks 2 and 6)
Paulo Gaspar bass clarinet (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)
Desidério Lázaro tenor saxophone (tracks 2 and 6)
Gonçalo Marques trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 2 and 6)

andrefernandes.com

Edition Records – EDN1066 (2016)

‘Flow’ – Drifter

Drifter_Flow_300

“THE MUSIC means so much more now. Ten years ago, we were just playing tunes that we loved to play. Now the music comes from within us and somehow encapsulates the feelings of the last ten years.”

There’s a heartwarming sense of triumph and arrival which emanates from the backstory to those words from Finnish pianist Alexi Tuomarila. Early in the ‘noughties’, Tuomarila and his quartet were flying high and recording with Warner Jazz France (most notable, their excellent 2003 album 02) when suddenly the label shut down their jazz and classical department. Here was a prominent European jazz ensemble without the proverbial paddle… or so it seemed. In the intervening years, both Tuomarila and saxophonist Nicolas Kummert continued to independently develop their craft through regular touring, and perhaps there was an inevitability about them not just crossing paths in the future, but once again kindling the spark of their creativity.

Now, following Edition Records’ 2014 release of Alexi Tuomarila’s engaging trio album Seven Hills, and encouraged by Edition, the quartet have reconvened as Drifter; former members Tuomarila and Kummert join again with drummer Teun Verbruggen and welcome bassist Axel Gilain to the fold. There’s a smile-inducing mystique about this quartet’s combined output which can be difficult to nail. Certainly, the instrumentation is familiar – but perhaps the best explanation is that there is both strength and balance achieved through the co-leadership of pianist Tuomarila and saxophonist Kummert, buoyed by the varicoloured rhythmic skills of Verbruggen and Gilain. Persistent up-front soloing is not Drifter’s way.

From this near hour-long collection of eight originals, plus one arrangement, opener Crow Hill reveals the aforementioned parity as piano and sax become almost conjoined in the melodic spotlight; and when Tuomarila eloquently breaks loose, Kummert responds up through the gears, his verbal tone redolent of Joshua Redman or Mark Lockheart. Tuomarila’s dual trademark is found in The Elegist which grooves to his deep chordal impetus, yet also produces effortless high piano lines which sail as purely as fast-moving cirrus; and, taking Axel Gilain’s high ostinato bass hook plus Verbruggen’s bristling percussion, Harmattan provides greater extemporised freedom for piano and sax.

Drifter’s sound world is beautifully accessible, with the added complexion of a few vocal tracks (as in the 02 album’s Bone-Yard Jive). But rather than offering extensive lyricism, the quietly harmonic voices of Kummert and Gilain are employed more instrumentally through repeated phrases which, in Lighthouse, cleverly pictorialise its dark, lilting momentum (“I’m looking for a lighthouse”); and with more of a rock inflection than jazz, the effect is quite distinctive. Nothing Ever Lasts (music by Tuomarila, words by Gilain) feels particularly anthemic, its solid folksong-like motif carried through into a memorable vocal exultation, with Kummert’s sax hinting at Garbarek.

The grungy, wailing, jazz/blues of Breathing Out My Soul becomes knee-tappingly infectious. With only a simple, repeated, unison vocalisation of the title, a wonderfully pliant bass motif sets up stand-out piano from Tuomarila against the thrashing of Verbruggen’s kit; and enticing rhythmic changes invite Kummert’s sax to overflow in improvisation – quite unlike anything out there at present! Gilain’s Toueï is delightful as it gently pirouettes around the bass – and, as throughout the album, themes and rhythms regularly metamorphose with entertaining unexpectedness.

The concept of covering a rock/pop hit such as the The Police’s King of Pain might well come with a warning – but Tuomarila unlocks its hidden dance qualities so remarkably that it becomes its own idea, with the lyrics of Sting’s original soon forgotten amidst its driving energy. And to close, Vagabond combines the compositional Englishness of Tim Garland with Svensson-like piano explorations – a resounding, dizzying climax.

Alexi Tuomarila’s belief that this quartet’s re-emergence marks “the development of our friendship as a band and the greater sense of purpose we all have in our lives” is borne out in an exciting album which I’ve repeatedly enjoyed over the past few weeks.

Released on 17 July 2015, Flow is available at Bandcamp as download, CD or 140gm 12″ vinyl.

 

Alexi Tuomarila piano
Nicolas Kummert saxophone, vocals
Axel Gilain double bass, vocals
Teun Verbruggen drums

Edition Records – EDN1059 (2015)

‘Seven Hills’ – Alexi Tuomarila Trio

SevenHills

MOVING TO A NEW HOME at Edition Records, Finnish-born pianist Alexi Tuomarila and his trio have released Seven Hills, an engaging collection of nine jazz originals by the pianist himself, Mats Eilertsen (double bass) and Olavi Louhivuori (drums) – plus guest appearances by guitarist and album engineer André Fernandes.

Read the full review at LondonJazz News…


Alexi Tuomarila
piano
Mats Eilertsen double bass
Olavi Louhivouri drums
with
André Fernandes guitar

Edition Records – EDN1041 (2013)