May 2000

Northern Lights over Stoke Newington

Top musical craftmanship and fantastic artistic imagination came together when the Mika Mylläri Quintet performed at Vortex Jazz Club in London's Stoke Newington on Thursday night (25 May). The audience was offered a mixture of authentic African-American jazz tradition and Northern influences, highlighted in the suite called Northern Lights, composed by trumpetist Mylläri. The concert was part of the Polar Jazz project.

Mylläri and his band members are household names in Finnish jazz. The leader himself has for years been winning awards as the number one trumpet player in Finland. His work has also attracted attention in the United States with noteworthy musical assignments. He is also in the process of composing several jazz musicals. During the concert at Vortex, which was recorded by BBC Radio 3, he offered good examples of his sparkling playing style and lyrical power.

The rest of the band consists of brilliant young players. Jari Perkiömäki's alto and soprano saxophones as well as his bass clarinet added interesting tonal colours to the band's sound. His solos were supreme examples of an exciting mixture of influences. Pianist Samuli Mikkonen has begun to attract international attention with his crisp piano style which ranges from funky percussive chord clusters to eerie thoughtfulness. Bassist Jorma Ojanperä constantly surprises with his imaginative leaps and beautiful sound. Drummer Markku Ounaskari's rhythmic adventures were played with an exciting mixture of restraint and power.

If these musicians were Jazz Greats with unpronouncable names, tenor saxophonist Ed Jones added an element of familiarity. As one of the most popular performers at Vortex, the audience now had a chance to hear him in an unusual context. The addition of Jones, who has performed with Mylläri and his colleagues in Finland, gave the band a thick sound texture. His fiery solos meshed wonderfully with the musical atmosphere of the evening.

On Body and Soul the sextet made one think of historical recordings of someone like Tadd Dameron. The beautiful tonal texture was thick and delicious. On Mylläri's Out of Chaos, the band performed some of their occasional forays into free music. Even in these wild moments, the sense of beauty was present in the music.

See also:

Wheeler and Mikkonen open Polar Jazz at Vortex

25 May 2000

Polar Jazz kicks off

20 May 2000

Kenny Wheeler featured in Polar Jazz

14 April 2000

Ed Jones Quintet's adventures in Finland

June 1998

"A taut front line": Jones and Mylläri tour Scotland and Finland

February 1998

Ed Jones adds Finnish flavour to his jazz band by Chris Parker

January 1998

Finnish jazz benefits from more international contacts

January 1998


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