Antti Lötjönen and Quintet East, Circus/ Citadel
We Jazz Records WJCD49 (CD review by Mike Collins)
Antii Lötjönen’s Quintet East is something of a super group, drawing its personnel from the most in demand and feted players on the Finnish Jazz scene. The frontline of Veneri Pohjola on trumpet, Mikko Innanen on alto and bari, and Jussi Kannaste on tenor are all bandleaders in their own right. Pohjola for instance has been making international waves since his first of several releases on Edition Records, Bullhorn. Joonas Riippa on drums completes the line-up
Circus/ Citadel sees bass player Lötjönen providing the scripted material for the quintet with plenty of scope for individual exploration and collective improvisation. The band navigate it all seamlessly, there’s a loose, flowing vibe to the music, punctuated by bursts of closely choregraphed interaction.
The set starts with the title track, a three part suite. Part 1 launches with an attention grabbing, raucous statement of a lilting, brassy theme and two repeating jagged riffs. Parts 2 and 3 are driven by propulsive bass riffs and Riipas’ pushy, clattering drums. The horns hint at riffs from Part 1 then spiral off into individual flights and jousts and exchanges between instruments, tenor swirling around barking baritone phrases; bursts of restated riffs give way to a climatic whole group storm, an ‘all-out quintet attack’ as Lötjönen describes it. Ode to the Undone starts with a shrill collective declamatory tone row, then a moody, thoughtful air descends as meandering lines twist around a gently throbbing groove. Defenestration picks up the pace with another gambolling bass groove and snappy, twisting horn lines, the momentum sustained as exploratory solos ricochet of a fractured bass and drums groove. The variation in mood and pace continues throughout the set, with individual voices and sounds sometimes in the foreground, but never dominating the ensemble.
Quintet East have forged a distinctive group sound with Lötjönen’s compositions providing both plenty of engaging material and the space and structure for free-wheeling, absorbing ideas to develop. This is a thoroughly enjoyable set from a quintet who sound like they are enjoying each other’s company.
Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bristol, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter: @jazzyblogman
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Categories: Album review, Reviews
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