Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mika Pohjola, Miguel Zenón, Ben Monder, Fernando Huergo & Roberto Dani: Landmark - Remastered Expanded Edition (BLUE MUSIC GROUP 2018)

This remarkable disc features Mika Pohjola's crafty ensemble, with Miguel Zenón on alto sax and flute, Ben Monder on guitar, Fernando Huergo on bass, and Roberto Dani on drums, with Johanna Grüssner contributing haunting vocals on occasion. Pohjola plays Fender Rhodes and other electric keys in addition to acoustic piano; on Landmark and Retrospectives he doubles certain melodies on harpsichord, as he has done on two previous albums (he may well be the first musician to employ the arcane instrument in a modern jazz ensemble, although Herbie Hancock played an electric harpsichord on a couple of unissued Miles Davis tracks in the late 60s.)

Compositionally, Pohjola's work is involved yet infectious and profoundly melodic, driven by the virtuosity and strong personalities of his players. On tracks like Screenplay and Future Apparent the band purveys a hip, appealing species of electric jazz. Pohjola's mellower side comes through on A Ballad About Something and Old Couples Lullaby. In contrast, he makes loud mischief on the rhythmically skewered punk of Young in the '80s and conveys a peculiar, semi-rubato feel on the evocative Summer Garden (which features Monder and Dani in a duo exchange toward the end). Pohjola also works wonders with Grüssner's voice on an inspired arrangement of the fourth century Ambrosian hymn, as well as the Finnish-titled Reppurin Laulu (Vagabond's Song), the lyrics of which are in the Karelian language.

The highly recommended Landmark sets the bar very high for creative music.There is an underground alternative jazz scene that is beginning to bubble over the surface and its starting to leak into all the different areas of music and culture. It's based in Manhattan New York. People like Mika are leading the way. When you get a four star review with the All Music Guide you have made the grade. This gentleman has arrived in a big way. I knew that he would, and the deserving recognition was just around the corner after the last release. Yes, I knew that he was special, and so will you when you hear his music. This is the perfect title for this CD; it is no doubt a Landmark release. - Down Beat 

1. Landmark 06:18
2. Screenplay 06:53
3. A Ballad about Something 04:17
4. Future Apparent 05:01
5. Isämme kiitos päivästä (Thank You, Lord, for This Day) 02:25
6. Old Couples Lullaby 04:54
7. Young in the 80s 07:34
8. Forest Nocturne 03:42
9. Passing Recline 05:19
10. Movements in Style 02:18
11. Summer Garden 04:32
12. MikaSonik Theme 00:36
13. Retrospectives 08:11
14. Now Came to Us 03:14
15. Reppurin laulu (Vagabond's Song) 04:43
16. Old Manhattan Tango 04:57
17. Future Apparent (Live in Stockholm) 07:06
18. Old Couples Lullaby (Live in Stockholm) 05:32
19. Old Manhattan Tango (Live in Stockholm) 07:33
20. Screenplay (Live in Stockholm) 08:10
21. Landmark (Live in Stockholm) 07:31
22. Now Came to Us (Live in Stockholm) 03:11
23. Announcement - MikaSonik Theme (Live in Stockholm) 15:50
24. Passing Recline (Live in Stockholm) 05:14
25. Movements in Style (Live in Stockholm) 03:14
26. Summer Garden (Live in Stockholm) 06:19
27. Young in the 80s (Live in Stockholm) 08:12
28. A Ballad about Something (Live in Stockholm) 05:59
29. Retrospectives - MikaSonik Theme (Live in Stockholm) 10:39
30. Nights Flights Spice (Quartet Version 1) 08:14
31. My Mother Turned Fifty (Quartet Version) 06:15
32. Old Couples Lullaby (Quartet Version) 04:33
33. Screenplay (Quartet Version) 06:55
34. Announcement (Quartet Version) 08:13
35. Summer Garden (Quartet Version) 05:56
36. When Things Will Change (Quartet Version) 09:55
37. Movements in Style (Quartet Version) 04:47
38. Nights Flights Spice (Quartet Version 2) 07:59
39. Landmark (Take 1) 06:03
40. Passing Recline (Take 1) 04:35
41. Forest Nocturne (Take 2) 03:26
42. A Ballad About Something (Take 1) 04:10
43. Summer Garden (Take 2) 04:50
44. Screenplay (Take 2) 06:12
45. Future Apparent (Live in New York City) 05:52
46. Landmark (Live in New York City) 05:56
47. Old Manhattan Tango (Live in New York City) 05:45
48. Passing Recline (Live in New York City) 05:30
49. Screenplay (Live in New York City) 06:30
50. Young in the 80s (Live in New York City) 07:14

Mika Pohjola - piano, harpsichord, fender rhodes, all compositions (except 5 and 15)
Miguel Zenón - saxophone, flute
Ben Monder - guitar
Fernando Huergo - bass
Roberto Dani - drums

Johanna Grüssner - voice (1, 5, 6, 7, 13, 15)
Matt Penman - bass (32-38)