Jouni Järvelä Group - LENTO
Jouni Järvelä soprano, alto & C-melody saxophones
Samuli Mikkonen piano, synthesizers & goat's horn
Jarmo Saari electric, acoustic & fretless guitars, chromaharp
Lasse Lindgren fretless bass & acoustic fretless bass guitar
Marko Timonen drums
Johannes Lundberg recording and mixing engineer
LENTO is the debut album of the Jouni Järvelä Group, originally released in Helsinki, Finland on November 7th 1999. LENTO was nominated for the jazz recording of the year by the EMMA-awards (Finnish Grammy).
The Jouni Järvelä Group was put together in the fall of 1996. The members of the group are well known musicians who've performed in a wide variety of ensembles, both in Finland and internationally.
The group's music consists mainly of compositions by Jouni Järvelä and Samuli Mikkonen. The musical language they speak is a diverse mixture of the dialects stemming from jazz, classical music, rock and world music.
"a quality album..lots of depth…among the very best in Finnish jazz..like a migratory bird..courageous flights..beautifully effortless.. extremely listenable..tight, young and most representable..entirely mature, finished and polished, but not at all edgeless..sounds like itself..on the surface, a highly polished gem..surface belies intensely detailed and stormy underside...soaring yet refined..fresh rhythms, brittle melodies, harmonic exploration, bizarre sonic colorings..rich, contrasting textures..expansive, ambient mood without sacrificing rhythmic muscle or imagination..vigor and freshness..avoiding cliched, tired rhythmic patterns..Qualität und Vielschichtigkeit.. eine zahlreiche Hörerschaft verdient..sound of the group is original and evolved.. magnificent album..fierce band..a revelation..a determined testament to musical bravery."
(Markus Partanen, Rytmi; Matti Laipio, Hifi; Riitta Pietilä, Classica; Arto Murtovaara, Kaleva; Matthew Wuetrich, allaboutjazz.com; JazzLive, Saksa; Petri Silas, Helsinki Happens)
“…Jouni Järvelä Group’s Lento, an excellent contemporary example of glocalised jazz…that includes the track Enkelin Kannel with a soprano saxophone solo by Järvelä that numbers among the finest in jazz of the last two decades.”
Stuart Nicholson in Jazz Forum (Poland) and Finnish Music Quarterly (Finland) (2005)
"… the music has serene episodes with Finnish-sounding melodies, hard-driving sections of the music are propelled by free-jazz, and the soundscape is curiously woven" (Juki Välipakka, Jazzrytmit 6/99)
"The JJG has succeeded in recording an album with personality."
"…stylistically the compositions fit well together and grow deeper in meaning with each listening…"
"…the recording and sound are of the highest level." (Markus Partanen, Rytmi 7/99)
"The group is young, well-rehearsed and distinguishing itself in the music world"
"Despite his age Järvelä's music seems mature and polished - but doesn't lose its edge at all" (Arto Murtovaara, Kaleva 16.12.1999)
"The elements of the music are remarkably more multifaceted than an ordinary jazz recording…"
"The wait for this group's recording has finally paid off."
"The best in Finnish jazz in a long time" (Matti Laipio, Aksentti 10/99 and Hifi-magazine 1/2000)
" Järvelä is mature on every level - despite his young age - not only as a composer but also as a player." (Seppo Huittinen, Jazzrytmit 7/99)
"…Jouni Järvelä and his saxophone soar like a migrant and hold together courageous flights that are many miles in length…" (Riitta Pietilä, Classica 4/2000)
"Das musikalische Spektrum der CD ist ungewöhnlich breit"
"Lento ist ein gelungenes Debutalbum, dass auf Grund seiner Qualität und seiner Vielschichtigkeit eine zahlreiche Hörerschaft verdient." (EW, JazzLive 129/2000)
"If musical visionaries like Collin Walcott or Joe Zawinul had ever taken up residence in Finland, they might have come up with tunes somewhat similar to those featured on Jouni Järvelä Group's excellent debut disc 'Lento'. Making his home in the twilight zone between muscular jazz-rock and sensitive ethno, the 26-year old saxophonist reminds us vividly that the grey areas between musical styles are there only to be explored, charted and conquered."
"Ever since Jouni Järvelä first stepped into the limelight as a leader and started performing his own compositions, the critics took note of his talent by comparing him to such legends as John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Should we need a closer-to-home reference point, we could easily be tempted into referring to the road-tested reedwork of Jone Takamäki or Sakari Kukko. There really is nothing sissy about the soprano saxophone if you handle it the way Järvelä does." - "'Lento' provides a welcome breath of fresh air."
"Obvious allusions to Oregon, Piirpauke and Weather Report aside, the sound of the Jouni Järvelä Group is original and evolved. Rooted in the melodious drums of Marko Timonen (of Värttinä fame) and the gutsy bass of Lasse Lindgren, this 3-year-old quintet sounds like they have played together for all eternity. Tracks like 'Uni', 'Dr. Mandolin's Cabinet' and 'Irvikissa' are beautiful examples of their interlocking craftsmanship. In the front row, Järvelä is challenged by the show-stopping antics of the ridiculously talented Jarmo Saari (best known for his work in XL) on fretted and fretless guitars and chromaharp. To top all this, both the rhythm section and the lead instruments are given a real run for their money by the stormy pianism and raw synths of Samuli Mikkonen, who has also penned two of the nine cuts on 'Lento'."
"The title of this album can be interpreted either as Italian for 'slow' or the Finnish for 'flight'. Guess which word conjures up the more suitable connotations. All in all, an effort as accomplished as this magnificent album - especially coming from a fierce band of musicians in their mid-20s to early 30s- is nothing if not a revelation and a determined testament to musical bravery." (Petri Silas, Helsinki happens 2-3/2000)
Review by Matthew Wuethrich / Courtesy AllAboutJazz.com
On the surface, the music of Lento gleams like a highly polished gem. However that surface belies an intensely detailed and sometimes stormy underside. "Lento" means "flight" in Finnish and the Jouni Järvelä Group has indeed created a soaring yet refined balance of fresh rhythms, brittle melodies, harmonic exploration and bizarre sonic colorings. The music floats weightless, as the musicians' exertion sounds almost effortless. Yet as it passes by, one cannot help but further investigate the rich, contrasting textures of the compositions.
The quintet creates an expansive, ambient mood without sacrificing rhythmic muscle or imagination. Pianist Samuli Mikkonen's "Uni", like many of the compositions, features saxophonist Järvelä's extended phrases and thoughtful cultivation of melody. Behind him, the band provides a constantly shifting background. Mikkonen slips unnoticeably between piano and synthesizers as guitarist Jarmo Saari sensitively responds to the entire ensemble. Beneath this misty cover, the bass and drums wander quietly, yet intently.
Lasse Lindgren, on bass, and Marko Timonen, on drums, contribute the forceful, mercurial grooves that are the foundation of Lento. Lindgren anchors every song with angular, precise lines and Timonen just plain astounds. Showing supernatural control, he plays at some furious tempos and precisely articulates intricate rhythms. They play with vigor and freshness, consistently avoiding cliched, tired rhythmic patterns.
Inherent in every composition on Lento is a tension between gentle melodic contours and more abstract, sharp-edged electronic tones. "Dr. Mandolin's Cabinet" treads this fine line between groove and noise. Bass and drums lock in on an insistent beat, as Mikkonen hints at some unheard sonic layer with fragmented synth blasts and tonal wisps. Over this tense foundation, Järvelä blows jagged, almost moaning-blues phrases.
Järvelä has written most of the material on the album, with Mikkonen also contributing two originals. They present compositions which are fully realized in both mood and structure, not just collections of chord changes to be soloed over. Each soloist fulfills a function by building tension and drama within the pieces. On "Siniperho" Saari rides the cresting waves of harmony, then swells out of the mix to unfurl a searing, high-volume solo. As Järvelä expands the sinister minor melody of "Irvikissa", Saari and Mikkonen unleash a horde of strangled noise over the ominous bass and relentless ride cymbal propulsion. They achieve a stormy ballance while maintaining their characteristic center of composed confidence.
On the first listening, this poise manifests itself as an effortless sheen, but furhter exploration yields a compelling wealth of details and ideas. Lento is the product of intense concentration by the Jouni Järvelä Group, and it certainly rewards the same concentration from the listener.