Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Olli Hirvonen - Christian Winther Soul House -- Embassy of Finland - Jun 23 2015

This was part of the Nordic Jazz Festival featuring jazz artists from the musically rich countries of Scandanavia. Much thanks to Embassy of Finland for hosting such a lovely event in their beautiful building. Embassy events are the best. Partake whenever you can, as there are a lot of events open to the public.

Christian Winther Soul House - Christian Winther is a saxophonist who comes to us from Denmark via New Orleans, where he has lived for the last 18 years. He is joined by an area trio, Allyn Johnson on piano, Billy Williams Jr. on drums, and Romeir Mendez on bass. The saxophone is clear and controlled with subtle speed and precision that invokes a comfortable feel throughout. The piano provides a lot of exciting flourish as Johnoson adds a lot to the sound. The bass holds it together with highly creative drumming adding even more thrust to the sound. Winther can play the standards, but his own songs fit well into any set featuring traditional material--at least from my perspective (keeping in mind rock and folk are my areas of expertise). The performance went over extremely well in the full room as Winther and these fine local musicians bonded very well indeed.

Olli Hirvonen Trio - Hirvonen is on home ground, hailing from Finland, but travelling the world with his unique guitar talents. Tonight he has New Yorker Ethan O'Reilly on bass and a drummer named Marc whose last name I did not catch. The first cut was a jazz cover song and it was decent enough, but when they went into Hirvonen's original material, the band really started cooking and the genres began blending. The guitar sounds were smooth and a bit spacey, almost keyboard like as Hirvonen soloed before the band joined in, with a near rock and roll intensity. There was a playful progressive style and ambient mood setting woven into these songs quite seamlessly with the skill of this trio. There was that progressive jazz noodling that can be excessive, but with all of the variety and the spirited playing, that never was a problem tonight. The guitar is one my least favorite instruments when I do spend some time with jazz, but it worked tonight with the variety of sounds and liquid playing in these engaging songs.

Video share: I have an extensive collection of music from Finland and their neighboring countries as there is a great musical history there. I urge you to explore. Here's but a taste from an album I really enjoy.

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