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Northbound

Northbound

Cam Jazz CAMJ 7917-5

8052405142832 - Northbound - CD

Artists :
Olavi Louhivuori ( Drums )
Seamus Blake ( Tenor Saxophone and EWI )
Tuomo Uusitalo ( Piano )
Myles Sloniker ( Bass )
Northbound ( Trio )
Release date
Sep 15, 2017
Duration
0:40:00

Within the unlimited expressive options that are available to a jazz quartet composed of a piano, double bass, drums and saxophone, the one CAM JAZZ is featuring in Northbound is, of course, among the most intriguing.  Tuomo Uusitalo on piano, Myles Sloniker on bass, Olavi Louhivuori on drums and Seamus Blake on sax are taking the language of jazz to a new, surprising, ethereal, though still tangible and earthly, level.  Two Finns, an American and an Englishman, all young, multi-award winning talents, are always searching for introspective moods by maneuvering discords into a parallel harmony: no screeching, but rather a new glory consisting of free interaction with an essential, effective, exact design, which arises from ongoing, fruitful balancing.  Where the voicing or melodic theme of a track is simpler than others’, its rhythm will be amazingly fragmented, as in Song for Mr. Moorhead.   A wide-ranging, almost overloaded, harmonic palette results in a soft, impalpable performance, as in Quietus that carries you into a “different” sonic world.  Instruments swap roles, as if they are taking turns at driving during a journey whose destination is probably unknown or undetermined or not essential: it’s the route, rather dreamy, that matters.   And so you will float, as in Gomez Palacio, or get excited by the fiery sax in three-four time in Pablo’s Insomnia. You will find adrenalin-charged moments, as in Burst. And a closing track to listen to either with headphones, at full blast, or unrestrained, facing the sea: solemn, peaceful, almost like a hymn, which combines with disarmingly fine contrasts along the way…The Aisle marks the end of the route, but also acts as a new starting point: indeed, you will realize that, at each listening session, Northbound discloses something novel that you had missed before, no one knows why.



Recorded in Astoria, NY on 7 - 8 September 2016 at The Samurai Hotel Recording Studio
Recording engineer Pete Karam

Photos by John Abbott

Liner notes by Brian Morton

Reviews

Northbound (featuring Seamus Blake)

Despite what its title would have you believe, Northbound hits every cardinal direction. At its core are Tuomo Uusitalo (piano), Myles Sloniker (bass) and Olavi Louhivuori (drums), who together form an indivisible unit of expression. Unlike some other simpatico ensembles, their rapport isn’t so much one of interlocking as hybridization, as evidenced by the free improvisations peppering the set. In these, the voice of each musician breathes through the same body. From the microscopic cartography of “Focus” to groove-seeking insights of “Awakening”, the music gels organically and with clarity of purpose. Similar intuitions fortify the meat surrounding these bones, into which guest Seamus Blake blends the protein of his tenor saxophone throughout six originals. Each lends insight into its originator’s talents. Sloniker’s “Counterparts” and “Gomez Palacio”, like the bassist’s playing, balance arcs and angles, unraveling two knots for every one tied. Louhivuori offers a diptych of his own with “Forgotten” and “Song For Mr. Moorhead”, building in each a patient reach for consummation. The drummer bridges these with the free solo “Rumble”, evoking a distant storm, before Uusitalo rounds everything out with the album’s strongest compositions. “Pablo’s Insomnia” is a highlight for its composer’s right-handed solo and command of space while “The Aisle” builds to anthemic parting. Regardless of the complexities of the mazes put before him, Blake navigates with his eyes closed and heart on autopilot. He emotes with boldness yet manages to be sensitive to his environment. Neither overpowering nor overpowered, he knows exactly when to unhinge himself with a screech of color and when to sing in monotone, thus embodying the rarest aspect of Northbound: namely, its gracious handling of every melody. There’s something sacred to be found here and respecting it demands full attention.

1/6/2018The New York City Jazz RecordTyran Grillo
Northbound – “Northbound”

Northbound è l’insegna del trio composto da Tuomo Uusitalo al piano, Olavi Louhivuori alla batteria (ambedue finnici) e dall’americano Myles Sloniker al basso, cui nell’occasione si aggiunge l’anglo-canadese Seamus Blake al sax tenore. Ecco, quindi, nuovo di zecca un quartetto che ha molte frecce al suo arco. Innanzitutto la bravura dei singoli: si tratta di quattro musicisti giovani ma che hanno ottenuto significativi riconoscimenti a livello internazionale. In secondo luogo – ed è forse quel che più conta – le modalità espressive. Il quartetto si esprime, infatti, su livelli che potremmo definire introspettivi con armonie spesso dissonanti, linee melodiche tutt’altro che facili od orecchiabili e ritmi inusuali. Di qui una musica spesso sghemba, difficile da prevedere, ma sempre ben equilibrata, con un costante controllo delle dinamiche, frutto di un continuo scambio tra i musicisti che si affidano all’estro del momento, all’empatia che si manifesta in sala di incisione, per assumere alternativamente il controllo delle operazioni. Non c’è quindi alcun leader ma quattro jazzisti che si avventurano su terreni inesplorati in cui il viaggio è di per sé più importante della meta da raggiungere (ammesso che la stessa sia stata programmata). L’assenza di un leader non ci esime, tuttavia, dal sottolineare la costante ricerca timbrica e coloristica di Olavi Louhivuori, batterista-percussionista tra i migliori della nuova scena europea, mentre Seamus Blake dimostra ancora una volta perché su di lui si appunti l’attenzione di importanti etichette. Tra i brani, tutti frutto dei componenti il trio, una menzione particolare la meritano “Gomez Palacio” per il gustoso assolo di Myles Sloniker al basso e il ¾ di “Pablo’s Insomnia”.

6/2/2018online-jazz.netGerlando Gatto
Uusitalo/Louhivuori/Sloniker/Blake Northbound

Northbound begins in a rather plodding fashion, guest Seamus Blake’s tenor saxophone and Tuomo Uusitalo’s piano determinative, the percussive support like a rhythmic clapping board or constricted swinging door. As an opening number, it seems uneventful but perhaps revealing of what’s to come. “Awakening” follows and already there’s a bit more life as bassist Myles Sloniker and Uusitalo interact in a more rhythmically loose, swinging-groove interlude. “Forgotten” finds the return of Blake surrounded by the trio in what is a highly interactive piece with all four members essentially soloing within a rubato-laden improv. Everything is sandwiched with a modest theme and theme restatement, all of it consistent with the slow-to-medium tempos and subdued moods already established. That all changes with the aptly titled “Rumble,” starting off with drummer Olavi Louhivuori pitter-patting with hands across the skins of his drum heads. It’s a fervid little solo juncture that’s followed by something called “Song For Mr. Moorhead,” a piece that could be a part two to “Forgotten,” the group’s approach to pulse akin to early Ornette Coleman or Keith Jarrett’s group with Dewey Redman. The music remains melodic to the core but dwells more in the group vibe with what’s clearly a worked-out esthetic within an integrated group sound. “Burst” is straight ahead swing, the improvising by the piano trio ending in a subdued collapse before the final number, “The Aisle,” the album’s most songful piece. Blake’s soloing beyond the theme pulls the music into a gentle atonality even as the trio continues its steady march towards song’s end.

1/2/2018DownbeatJohn Ephland
Uusitalo/Louhivuori/Sloniker/Blake - Northbound

Formazione trio per vocazione, la band finno-nordamericana trova linfa e ragioni nei diversamente affermati talenti di due già vissuti fuoriclasse nordici, votati alla ricerca di originali formule ritmico-melodiche nel caso del pianista e dell'esplorazione oltre le formule di genere nel caso del batterista, titolari di indipendenti quanto solide carriere, qui uniti ad un abituale braccio contrabbassistico di Uusitalo, e facenti infine quadrato con il mai troppo enfatizzato esponente anglo-canadese del tenore, già attenzionato in numerosi passaggi discografici anche da parte di label nostrane. Dotata di veemente propensione espositiva, la formazione non è avara in assortimento di soluzioni formali, certamente facenti tesoro dagli apporti dei singoli: macchinosa, a tratti spettrale, così esordisce la musicalità d'insieme (Counterparts, Awakening), in un carattere più o meno confermato nel corso dell'album, anche quando si recupera la fraseologia classica o qualche sorta di mood latino (Pablo's Insomnia, Gomez Palacio), passaggi comunque vivacizzati da una allure dinoccolata e bizzosa palesemente meglio espressa nelle dinamiche più concitate (Burst, Focus) ma non riuscendo pacificate, diremmo, nemmeno la poco letterale Quietus o la conclusiva, calda e antifonale The Aisle. Lungo la pur concisa incisione, piuttosto nette si articolano la peculiare ispirazione danzante e su tutto la predilezione per le forme oblique: la continua inventività percussiva di Louvihuori, l'articolazione angolosa dei tasti di Uusitalo, la declamazione lacerata di tempra notturna di Blake, cementato dalle plumbee ma nette note basse di Sloniker, così conformano il sound collettivo, afferente ad una sorta di neo-mainstrem ove non si rinuncia alla griffe autoriale né si palesa acquiescenza alla forma piana.

12/12/2017jazzconvention.netAldo Del Noce
NORTHBOUND featuring Seamus BLAKE : « Northbound »

On connaît le batteur-percussionniste Olavi Louhivuori présent dans de nombreux enregistrements pour le label ECM mais aussi pour CamJazz. C’est un musicien inventif au jeu original dans la recherche de timbres et de couleurs. Le voici avec son trio Northbound et, en invité le saxophoniste canadien Seamus Blake. Une formation qui sait respecter l’équilibre entre ses quatre voix pour proposer une musique sobre, vivante et captivante, sans faux-semblants.

6/10/2017culturejazz.frThierry Giard
T. UUSITALO, O. LOUHIVUORI, M. SLONIKER, feat. S. BLAKE “Northbound”

Dwóch fińskich muzyków: pianista Tuomo Uusitalo i perkusista Olavi Louhivuori, grający na basie Amerykanin Myles Sloniker , oraz urodzony w Londynie saksofonista Seamus Blake, dokładnie rok temu spotkało się na sesji nagraniowej w nowojorskim The Samurai Hotel Recording Studio. Jej wynikiem jest płyta „Northbound”, która ukazała się 15 września nakładem wytwórni Cam Jazz. Cała czwórka, choć zaliczana do młodszego pokolenia muzyków, ma jednak na swoim koncie liczne nagrody i epizody współpracy z uznanymi gwiazdami jazzu. Jedenaście utworów podpisanych jest przez fińsko-amerykańskie trio. Niecałe 40 minut muzyki kwartetu zabiera nas w rejony intrygujących improwizacji. Sześć dłuższych nagrań przeplecionych jest krótkimi interludiami, zagranymi bez saksofonu, pośród których znajdziemy mini-balladę („Quietus”), perkusyjną impresję solo („Rumble”) czy też free („Focus”). Bardziej melodyjne fragmenty zderzają się z połamanym rytmem (saksofon kontra perkusja w „Song for Mr. Moorhead” czy też fortepian przeciw saksofonowi w kończącym płytę „The Aisle”). Muzycy zmieniają się rolami raz stając się punktem zapalnym improwizacji by w innej chwili przejść ku nastrojom spokoju, niekiedy wręcz delikatności. Niezła i interesująca propozycja z pogranicza jazzu i współczesnej muzyki improwizowanej.

21/9/2017donos.blox.pKrzysztof Komorek