Alexi Tuomarila Trio
For more than 15 years Alexi Tuomarila has been quietly building a considerable reputation as one of the finest pianists of his generation in Europe, described by Jazz Times as ‘…one of the next big deals on jazz piano…’ and selected as one of the New Future Names of International Jazz by distinguished British jazz journalist Stuart Nicholson in the Observer newspaper.
Alexi has built an extensive catalogue both as a leader and as sideman with many groups, including for ECM with the late great trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. With Sphere he has produced his most accomplished album yet featuring his long-term collaborators, bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Olavi Louhivuori, and with the addition of guest soloist and Edition artist Verneri Pohjola. Alexi says: "For me Sphere in this context represents the constantly morphing and boiling space, where music is happening… the musical sphere is constantly changing and evolving, as is the musicians’ personal taste and approach towards music. I don’t think it’s possible to reinvent the piano trio, but it’s certainly possible to be influenced and touched by many different cultures and musical styles, and to integrate what has been learned into one’s music and playing.” Alexi demonstrates by his musical progression on his albums for Edition – 2017’s Kingdom, 2013’s Seven Hills and his album with Drifter – Flow from 2015 – that he is not only influenced by the music and the situations around him, but that like the artist he is, he is able to mold and shape these influences into something new and exciting.
The almost eerily intuitive playing of the trio stems from Alexi, Olavi and Mats’ long relationship – not just in this trio but in a host of other musical situations: “We have played together for 15 years as a trio and also in multiple other contexts, so we have grown into a strong unit. Besides having played so much together, we also all compose and play each other’s songs. So each of us contributes ideas equally to the music.
”The addition of the superb young Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola to the mix (surely one of the brightest talents in the jazz world today) enriches the trio sound and brings out new elements in the trio’s compositions. “We all have been working together with Verneri in different combinations, so having Verneri playing and interpreting the songs felt really natural and made a lot of sense. He really was able to bring life to the songs.”
Sphere is simply quite brilliant, bringing together strong melodic, driving, rhythmical soloing, Finnish melancholia and some of the finest musicianship to emerge from any Nordic small ensemble. It has a wonderful freedom within the structure of its memorable compositions. The disc has that ‘classic album’ feel: it will be listened to again and again, studied by musicians and admired by many.
This is music that captivates, moving all with its strong melodies and driving improvisations. Listen to the moment in the opening track when Alexi Tuomarila fluidly transitions into his improvisation. The energy is pure and uplifting.