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WE JAZZ

Antti Lötjönen

Quintet East (feat. Verneri Pohjola, Mikko Innanen, Jussi Kannaste & Joonas Riippa)

Bassist Antti Lötjönen, one of the most highly-regarded and active musicians working in the Finnish jazz scene, steps ahead with his debut album as a leader on Helsinki's We Jazz Records. "Quintet East" features hard-hitters Verneri Pohjola on trumpet, Mikko Innanen (of Koma Saxo) and Jussi Kannaste (of 3TM) on saxes, plus Joonas Riippa on drums. Lötjönen himself is best known from his inspired work with The Five Corners Quintet, 3TM, Ilmiliekki Quartet, Aki Rissanen Trio and Timo Lassy, to name but a few. In late 2018, Lötjönen completed a successful trio stint of European headline shows with Jeff "Tain" Watts and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

On his new album, Lötjönen shines bright as both bassist and composer, presenting a compact yet far-reaching program of 9 tracks, 8 of which are penned by him. Monumental compositions such as the steadily swinging lead track "Erzeben Strasse" and the calmly confident "Le Petit Lactoire" rub shoulders with short-but-sweet teasers such as the funky "P.S.", the pastoral "Rowan" and the two solo bass tracks, "Monographs" I & II. While star-studded and packing unlimited improvisational potential, the band remains together as a unit and delivers a beautiful musical statement, one which echoes the DIY ethos and fire of the late 60's free music but also one which is very much of today and tomorrow, as constantly evolving jazz music.

Antti Lötjönen's "Quintet East" is released by We Jazz Records on 17 April on vinyl with old school tip-on sleeve and silver lettering, on CD and digitally. It arrives a day before the artist's 40th birthday, thus also achieving his goal of releasing his debut LP before turning 40. Already a fixture in the local live circuit, the band heard on "Quintet East" will likely be a force to be reckoned with outside of their native surroundings, as well.

Koma Saxo is a highly potent new five-piece produced by the visionary Berlin-based Swedish bassist-producer Petter Eldh. The lineup brings together five heavy jazz names on the Berlin–Nordics axis, including Eldh on bass, Christian Lillinger on drums and the frontline of three saxes: Otis Sandsjö, Jonas Kullhammar and Mikko Innanen. Despite the top-billing names, make no mistake: this is not just another "supergroup", but a real working band with their own sound and musical trajectory.

Eldh's vision for the Koma Saxo sound is one step ahead of what groovy avantgarde jazz could sound like in 2019, involving postproduction work with the raw material recorded in Helsinki in connection to Koma Saxo's successful debut at the We Jazz Festival. Both studio and live tapes exist side by side, and Eldh goes deep in molding the final music to be heard on the upcoming Koma Saxo releases.

The Koma Saxo debut LP on We Jazz Records is a revelation for anyone seeking contemporary jazz music with edge and vision. From the opener, the brief but fiery "Kali Koma", right into the pastoral finale, "Så Rinner Tiden Bort", Eldh & co are on it, like a tightly-knitted posse of jazz assassins on the run. At times, the pieces fall gloriously apart, just enough in order to be ripe to put back together again. Take "Ostron Koma" for example. From the intense opening seconds full of suspension, the track moves forward with breathtaking swing, then onto full-on free breakout, to be born anew.

In addition to scorching originals by all members of the band, Koma Saxo tackle a handful of carefully-picked and highly inspirational borrowed tunes from Finnish legends Matti Oiling, Edward Vesala and the Swedish composer Olle Adolphson. Even at their most freeform, Koma Saxo have an underlying "threat" of swinging hard. At their most peaceful, their hymns are full of genuine serenity and charisma, enabling them to never fall into easy sentimentality.

Whatever the mood, Koma Saxo are like lightning in a box, yearning to be set free.



STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: This is not your standard jazz album, vibrant and bold five-piece jazz band Koma Saxo are exploding with energy. With elements a bit harder, verging on Hip Hop on ‘Fanfarum For Komarum II’ and a more subtle, avant-garde style of ‘Pari Koma’ and ‘Cyclops Dance’ bringing upbeat jazz! Something for everyone.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Red vinyl edition

Koma Saxo

Port Koma / Fanfarum For Komarum

Koma Saxo is a highly potent new five-piece produced by the visionary Berlin-based Swedish bassist-producer Petter Eldh. The lineup brings together five heavy jazz names on the Berlin–Nordics axis, including Eldh on bass, Christian Lillinger on drums and the frontline of three saxes: Otis Sandsjö, Jonas Kullhammar and Mikko Innanen. Despite the top-billing names, make no mistake: this is not just another "supergroup", but a real working band with their own sound and musical trejectory.

Eldh's vision for the Koma Saxo sound is one step ahead of what groovy avantgarde jazz could sound like in 2019, involving postproduction work with the raw material recorded in Helsinki in connection to Koma Saxo's successful debut at the We Jazz Festival. Both studio and live tapes exist side by side, and Eldh goes deep in molding the final music to be heard on the upcoming Koma Saxo releases.

The first introduction into the world of Koma Saxo comes in the form of a 7"/digital single "Port Koma / Fanfarum For Komarum". Side A presents a restlessly dubby beat track, which would be ripe for hiphop sample use. The flip launches into a joyful full-on groovy free jazz fest which is hard to resist. Think Art Ensemble of Chicago at their swingingest but add a little "Nordic Noir" dropped right into the busy streets of Berlin's Kreuzberg.

Olli Ahvenlahti & The Stance Brothers

Minor Minor

Finnish jazz legend Olli Ahvenlahti presents his grade-A cooker "Minor Minor" from the LP "Thinking, Whistling" on 7". On the AA side, drummer-producer Teppo Mäkynen's celebrated alias The Stance Brothers presents first new music in 10 years with a tasty remake of the Ahvenlahti tune. The Stance version has a groove galore with the lead played on vibraphone adding levels upon levels to the operation, in signature "Teddy Rok" style.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Mellow, classic jazz vibes on this seven inch from the We Jazz label, groovy piano with lots of sax thrown in for good measure is what makes this so so good.


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