Alexi Tuomarila Trio ‘Seven Hills’ CD (Edition) 4/5

In a world brimming with new piano jazz trios, distinguishing the men from the boys can be a thankless task even for seasoned writers, but in the case of Finnish-born pianist Alexi Tuomarila, he is a young musician with an already impressive pedigree. He signed with Warners exactly twenty years ago and recorded two albums for them and for ECM recorded ‘Dark Eyes’ in addition to being the current pianist in Tomsz Stanko’s latest formation. This new recording marks his debut for Edition. Impressive credentials indeed, then, but does the music itself stand up to the hype? Thankfully, the answer is a resounding yes and the all original set features some beautifully lyrical pieces none more so than the opener and title track. As with a good deal of Scandinavian jazz, it sounds folk-inspired which is no bad thing. A tight rhythm section comprising Norwegian bassist Mats Eilersten and Finnish drum Olavi Louhivuori enhance the overall feel which is meditative and reflective as illustrated by ‘Jibeinia’ and features lengthy floating improvisations by Tuomarila and some subtle work from the rhythm section. There is a reposing quality to the piece ‘Shud’ which is an album highlight with a roaming undercurrent before it develops into a more expansive number. Lovely, vibrant quality to the sound recording with real depth in the bass.

Tim Stenhouse