Verneri Pohjola: Bullhorn.

I haven’t really reviewed CDs on this blog, sticking largely to live events and their photographs, but I have been doing occasional reviews of new releases on LondonJazz blog, and I must have found my way onto the mailing list at Edition Records, because, unexpectedly and unrequested, they sent me a copy of  Pohjola’s CD, Bullhorn.

Which was very kind of them.

And knowing absolutely nothing about Pohjola – I’d never even heard of him – I gave it a play. I’m a bit worried that Edition Records’ PR person has hacked my iPod or something, because I like it a lot. I mean, I like it an awful lot. It is frankly right up my street, and it’s worrying that had it not been for their foresight I might have missed it entirely.

For those as ignorant as me, Pohjola is a Finnish trumpet player, and this is his third record. Consisting mostly of a quartet of trumpet, piano, bass and drums, they are joined on several tracks by tenor saxophone. Whilst the liner notes state that the music steer[s] clear of any hackneyed notion of ‘Nordic’ jazz there is a very north European feel to the CD: I kept being reminded of Guy Barker’s contribution to Tommy Smith’s mid 1990s recordings and Colin Steele’s releases.

But there is also a certain simplicity about the music. It seems stripped back – there is a lot of space, Pohjola’s trumpet often backed by simple rhythmic patterns on drums and bass. There aren’t any post-bop histrionics – lots of great playing, but the tunes are uncluttered.

The occasional addition of tenor saxophone changes the tone slightly and adds more depth, and the closing number, aptly named The End Is Nigh, has tenor, trombone and cello in an evocative, simple arrangement to reinforce the sound.

So this CD was surprising. I was surprised to receive it, surprised by the music – and surprised how quickly it worked its way into my favourite records.

(Anyone else who wants to send me a CD, please feel free. But I can’t promise to like it!)


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