Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mika Pohjola Trio - Sigmar Matthiasson's NYC Quartet -- Embassy of Finland - Jun 22 2016

Sigmar Matthiasson's NYC Quartet - Embassy events are the best for a variety of reasons and Embassy of Finland was nice enough to invite me a third time for a cultulral event as they had a private show that was part of Nordic Jazz Fest 2016. They worked with the Embassy of Iceland this year in getting this fine Icelandic bass player to open the show with his quartet featuring piano, drums, and electric guitar. Although over 8% of Iceland's entire population is in France to cheer on their amazing national football team, it is good to see a few of them here to support this fine musical act. Matthiasson has a smooth style as does his band, although I am not sure 'smooth' is the right adjective for a good jazz show. Basically the seams were not showing as they went through solos and melodic runs. They performed several of Matthiasson's songs along with some adapted Icleandic folk songs, which I really liked, including one that could have easily been reworked into a folk rock classic as these four showed a lot of teeth for this cut. I liked the structures of the songs and they had plenty of character developed by the fine touch of these four musicians. And they may have all met at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC, but they are a four-continent band as they explain with members from Iceland, Tunisia, Venezuela, and Kosovo. This was a fine set that the rather large crowd quite enjoyed.
Mika Pohjola Trio - Finland's Mika Pohola is the son of a Jazz guitarist and has had a long musical education on violin, drums, and piano. All of that shows up here as he and his saxophonist, and drummer cook up a very rhythmic punchy set of songs that is a nice contrast to the first set. They had a playful quality as they worked through original songs and a version of Ornette Coleman's 'Humpty Dumpty' (in honor of his long career and recent passing). I also liked 'Kid's Song' which had that vibe of an exciting manic kid's playground backed by sharp exciting music. This set was also well received, deservedly so, and concluded a warm intimate night of music in the lovely big room at the Embassy of Finland. But now, it was back to the buffet table for a second round of the amazing culinary offerings.
photo-Vincent Gallegos

I want to thank the Embassy of Finland for their courtesy and their support of DC music blogs. I encourage everyone to visit them when you get a chance at Embassy Day or whenever you can. I have also enjoyed events at the Embassies of France, and Cote d'Ivoire. There are great things happening at embassies all over town and if you live in DC, you really should be experiencing them.

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