Aleksi Heinola Quintet ‘Aleksi Heinola Quintet’ LP/CD (Jazzaggression) 5/5

Jazzaggression Records boast the distinct pleasure of presenting the debut self-titled project from the Aleksi Heinola Quintet.

With a strong focus on reissues of undiscovered past masterpieces (like the release of the Californian soul/jazz collective High Risk’s 1974 album or the Bird Curtis Quintet album ‘Needs B’ from 1969), Jazzaggression Records have always had one foot firmly in the past while also showcasing a forward-thinking and innovative take on their new and contemporary releases. Aleksi Heinola and his Quintet have unveiled a record that acts as the perfect embodiment of each of those qualities – while still maintaining its respect for past icons like drummer Art Blakey, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Horace Silver, the Finnish drummer and composer, Heinola, crafts a stunning debut hard bop outing which serves as a wonderful introduction to his skill and talent.

A jazz fan from an incredibly young age, Heinola was purchasing vinyl releases bearing the iconic logos of Blue Note Records and Weather Report even in his early-teens, as well as drumming in a variety of funk, soul and jazz bands. Incredible focus and determination has seen Heinola, now in his mid-twenties, surrounded by a dream team of musicians comprising the Quintet of his debut album…

Mikko Gunu Karjalainen claims trumpet duties for this album with his credentials stemming from the Ricky Tick Big Band and his own Mikko Gunu Karjalainen Italian Quartet project; double bassist Daniel Franck who, amongst his many releases, can include his own Daniel Franck Quartet and numerous recordings for the revered Danish label Stunt records; Tenor saxophonist Manuel Dunkel’s immense body of work comes as a member of Manuel Dunkel Quartet, Manuel Dunkel United & Proton String Quartet as well as additional bands including the UMO Jazz Orchestra; finally, Mikael Jakobsson on piano attests to another extensive list of collaborations as well as being a member of the awesome Five Corners Quintet.

With seven of the track’s albums composed by Heinola himself, ‘Aleksi Heionola Quintet’ houses two covers with ‘Wives & Lovers’ – the 1963 classic by Burt Bacharach and Hal David – and ‘Book’s Bossa’ which was composed by bassist Walter Booker and famously performed by pianist Cedar Walton. Both numbers beautifully tackled and over the project’s nine tracks, Heinola skilfully demonstrates the full range of his arsenal, skipping through his cherished hard pop style of jazz while interweaving subtle nods to Latin and Afro stylings in perfectly exquisite measures.

Imran Mirza