See The Light

A 6 track hard bop album (40m 30s) — released April 14th 2014 on Schema

As an artist, while I regard composing as a great way of self-expression, I do strongly believe that a collection of "good tunes" - in addition to immaculate solo performances and communicative band interplay - is the guiding light and backbone of a successful jazz album set. That is, compositions with memorable and strong, melodic themes, that - while being approachable - never compromise their artistic integrity nor forego the jazz tradition they stem from. Compositions that are almost always more than just vehicles for extended improvisation: songs. I believe this was particularly evident in classic 1960'¼s quintet hard-bop, soul-jazz and early 1970'¼s post-bop, electric jazz-funk and Latin fusion - a spicy stew, where this album and its songs draw their inspiration from. Peculiarly, most of those distinct compositions that have become my favorites - "standards" in one way or another - seem to be written by non-pianists, and especially trumpet/horn players: artists such as Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Eddie Henderson, Donald Byrd, Nat Adderley or Lee Morgan. That said, pianist-keyboardists such as Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver or George Duke certainly played their part in moulding who I am not only as a pianist, but as a composer. Putting together this group in early 2009, I had a quite clear artistic vision of trying to balance the musical output between those two loves: there'¼s that 1970'¼s electric-pianofueled jazz-funk as pioneered by H. Hancock, and on the other hand, the acoustic twohorn hard-bop sound of the 1960'¼s. I'¼ve been fortunate to be surrounded by a group of excellent and highly in-demand musicians, who are able to swim in these waters like its their second nature! The material on this album was written over the course of several years, some of it, like "Simba" and "Dark Sun" reaching as far back as 2007, while some, like "See The Light" are more recent, 2011. While it certainly means that we have been performing this material live for years, it certainly doesn'¼t detract from the spontaneity of these top-notch performances! Backyard Boogie is J.K.L.'¼s take on those delightful, melodic hard-bop tunes from the 1960'¼s, perhaps with a little "touch of Silver". See The Light is a straightforward F Minor quintet tune with a 1960'¼s hard-bop feel. Somehow this gospel-like title seemed like an appropriate name for it, perhaps echoing those classic 60'¼s sessions by artists like Donald Byrd or Lee Morgan. There'¼s also a vague connection of this being the band'¼s debut album and hence: seeing the light [of day]...; Once Again is a 70'¼s-inspired bossaesque composition with a challenging harmonic structure, and it features only the piano. It also started its life as something completely different, an R&B song with lyrics! Dark Sun is a modal piece in 3-4 time, inspired by the dark and gloomy Finnish winters, and a few 1960'¼s/1970'¼s soundtracks. The band goes to work on this one, gaining an extra boost from the always explosive drumming of Jussi Lehtonen. This is a quintet performance, with Abdissa sitting this one out. Simba was initially inspired by the African sounds and unusual time signature of a Joe Henderson composition called "Gazelle" from the 1970'¼s, and it features saxophonist Jussi Kannaste as the only soloist. Bassist Jori Huhtala sits this one out, letting me showcase my synth bass chops. Seventh Sign is a wonderful song composed by Florida-based pianist/composer Ron Miller in 1969, that I discovered through our friendship. While the original was a fast Latin piece, my jazzfunk reharm/arrangement pays slight homage to Herbie Hancock'¼s "Butterfly". After my piano solo, J.K.L. gets to electrify the rest of the performance with an extended solo. Karma actually also started life as a ballad, but later developed into this danceable samba number. Too High has always been one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs, and a tune I'¼ve long wanted to arrange for a jazz group. I wrote a new three-horn jazz reharmonization/arr. just prior to the recording session, that maintains the original'¼s essence. A big thanks to trombonist extraordinaire Heikki Tuhkanen for helping us out.

Plenty plenty grooves on here! Very nice. Lots to go on. Nice version of Too High :-) - Chris Philips Jazz FM

Super cool record! My faves are - Marcus Rosario KSDS Jazz 88.3 Sandiego

I've been loving the Mighty Mighty album - Simon Harrison The Basic Soul Show

I really like it! - Kev Beadle Mind Fluid

Great variety, swing & groove! Provides an excellent bridge between mainstream and contemporary jazz. - The Jazz Evangelist The Jazz Evangelist

Schema always deliver something warm and essential. This is another LP that fits with the label's motif. Loving the swing on 'Backyard Boogie,' and the live laid back jazzy bar vibe of 'See The Light.' The fusion delight of 'Simba' and 'Seventh Sign' are highlights (loving the keys work on SS,) as is the percolating 'Karma.' Not a bad track to be had here. Frequent plays will begin. Thanks for a great find!!! - Rich Chocolate Tropical FM

Magnificent piece of work - Chris Wells Echoes Magazine

Seventh Sign takes me back to CTI. Love it! - Dj Rahdu BamaLoveSoul

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