Release Date 2017
André Fernandes guitar
Alexi Tuomarila piano/keyboards
Jonne Taavitsainen drums
Joonas Tuuri bass
Olli Erik Keskinen
Challenge Records International
New Arts Agency
When we think of Jazz as an art form focusing primarily on its evolutionary history, often what comes to mind are the golden periods of the past, such as the '30s with Big Bands led by Ellington and Count Basie, the '40s and '50s with Charlie Parker, Gillespie, Monk and company, the 60s with Miles, Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, and legendary names that outlined the style such as Shorter, Hancock, Corea, Armstrong, among many others. But the fact is that recent decades have been quite generous with the genre, which lives one of its most prolific and universal periods ever.
RED is proof of this - four exceptional musicians from today's jazz scene - coming from Finland and Portugal - come together to create original, contemporary musical landscapes. 'Bruin Bay', the opening theme composed by Alexi Tuomarila, sets the exact tone of the project, with an angular and lyrical melody played by the guitar and piano, followed by beautiful solos by André Fernandes (guitar) and Alexi (piano) over the rhythmic floating carpet and vigorous sound of young lion Jonne's drums and Joonas' bass. A beautiful statement that invites us to what comes next. Already in the first and sparse notes of the delicate 'Falling Waltz', we can hear the quartet's intimate interplay that, between conversations, presents the melody hovering over Alexi's piano ostinatos revealing the unexpected modulating harmony. Locked drums and bass but always fluid - indeed, a striking feature of the group - the immense fluency with which they talk. 'Interlude' features André's overdriven guitar dialoguing with Jonne's drums in a joint solo, ending apotheothically somewhere between free jazz and rock and roll. 'Substellar' echoes of Coltrane, Monk, a blues fantastically interpreted by Alexi, who in this track delivers a solo with outstanding bebop chops over a contemporary harmonic setting. A delight.
The solemn and impressionistic melody of 'Green' is a wise change of pace to the set, that cleverly transports us to Mahler's world ending with touches of Jarrett and Mehldau. Alexi delivers a composition deeply rooted in the tradition but with eyes set in the future, written with tenderness and mastery. And the record follows surprisingly with the energetic 'Vagabound', which also has the melody played by André's distorted guitar and piano. There are beautiful meter and mood changes, and a beautiful bass ostinato during the astounding piano solo. Andre's strong psychedelic contribution brings the track to a great finale. The band sounds light and sparse on 'Chill', with bass and drums providing a crispy and inventive drive for the guitar's motivic solo. The lyrical 'Shadows' brings a rhythmic flavor of Northeast Brazil, the Baião, that adds beautifully to the palette of colors and atmospheres of the album - pay attention to Joonas' solo (bass), full of intent and personality. Finally, the album closes the best way possible, with a sublime original version of Bob Dylan's 1964 classic, Times they are A changing. RED proves not only one but several points - that Jazz is still alive and doing well, that no matter where we are this universal language will unite us, that it is possible to innovate and be rooted in the tradition in 2017, that we can be technical, lyrical, inventive and generous at the same time, and that freedom and risk taking are paramount. All of this is done here at the highest level. Bravo guys! Chico Pinheiro
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