The Finnish iconic, 70 year old jazz saxophonist and composer Eero Koivistoinen has been on the Jazz scene for the last 50 years. Recently Eero once again teamed up and took the helm of the well-known and established Finnish jazz orchestra UMO (Uuden Musiikin Orkesteri, New Music Orchestra), which regularly plays too sold out venues. UMO has played with many famous guest Jazz icons over the years, including Dizzy Gillespie, Thad Jones, Gil Evans and Joe Henderson.
Now seeing as Eero was one of the original founders of the UMO, 40 years ago in the mid-seventies. It wasn’t surprising that this well-established partnership recently migrated from stage to studio and the outcome of this collaboration is Eero’s new album ‘Arctic Blues.’
This new album has a mix of new material and live big band recordings. All very much a reflective tapestry, which showcases Eero Koivistoinen extensive Jazz career, both as a saxophonist, a composer/arranger and as one of the conductor of UMO. Recorded in Helsinki early this year, mixed, and mastered at Power Sound Studio in Amsterdam.
I was recently sent the upcoming release ‘Arctic Blues’ by Will Stevens of Prescription PR for review consideration and I was happy to do so. I have chosen three tracks to focus on and while this represents my personal choice don’t let that stop you fully exploring all eighteen tracks off this superb big band jazz album.
1. The title track – Arctic Blues
From the opening bars, I was immediately struck with the evocative intro. With every instrument in the orchestra, wanting to shout out announcing it had something harmonious to add to the proceedings. A sudden quick change of tempo, which evocatively blasts you into a sassy overture.
I frankly found myself wanting to travel north, take my clothes off in naked celebration and roll around in the northern snows bathed in the aura borealis. It just doesn’t let go – continuing on with an intoxicating saxophone lead, which invites other brass instruments to fully exchange while the insistent rhythm section holds it all together. Finally, the close of this track reminds you that sometimes you just wanna sit down and hear it all over again. In my case with the second run through modesty took over and I opted for snow angels, contemplating how others might interpret Arctic Blues.
2. Ruby My Dear
As I listen, my mind is flooded with multi-memories of constant US/European romantic movies from the 50’s and 6o’s that constantly replayed on TV in my childhood. Evoking the backstreet city jazz club on a rainy day with the guy meeting the timid waitress who becomes his lover – now I’ve set the scene, just listen for the beautiful talkative trumpet, supported by the rest of the brass. Easy to feel the music wrapping around you like a warm blanket, inviting you to drift, asking the question was this unrequitedly love or not? Perhaps the last few bars give you a clue. If Michel Legrand had heard this in early 1968, it would have surely been a candidate to be played in the Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway classic film – The Thomas Crown Affair!
3. Rose in a Valley.
The saxophone playing of Eero Koivistoinen is pure artistic musical Synaesthesia, especially on this track. It is my favourite of all the tracks, all though having listened to them all, I’ve gained a real appreciation for the artistry of Eero Koivistoinen and the band members of the UMO. This track just oozes the tonal expression of a saxophone player of 50 plus years experience – Superb.
This offering comes in a two CDs, three LPs, or digital download. Svart records also have an ongoing reissue program of Koivistoinen’s past work, with LP reissues of classics such as Wahoo and 3rd Version.
To Purchase Arctic Blues – click here: SVART Records
Prefer to listen to this review by Nigel J.
EK & UMO / Double CD
Arctic Blues 9:21
Ruby My Dear 6:07
Mean Meat Blues 6:25
Long Way From Home 6:02
Nordisk samarbete 5:03
Straight Up 6:23
Off Minor 6:25
Picture in 3 Colours 7:51
Northern Dimension 7:21
Rose in a Valley 5:19
Images supplied by SVART Records
Last modified: July 15, 2018