Friday 3 February 2023

Nonets are not that common in jazz, neither are albums inspired by the writing of British-Caribbean author Jean Rhys (1890–1979) so 'Tigers Are Better Looking' is already pretty unique in both regards.

And whilst Finnish composer/guitarist Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen's vision of "melancholic, intimate chamber jazz" might not sound like it's something to get the heart beats racing, this 'tiger' definitely has some bite to it.

The clarinet (Antti Sarpila) takes the lead on the title track, and features throughout with trumpeter Jukka Eskola, saxophonist Jussi Kannaste, drummer Jaska Lukkarinen.

But what makes this so cool is that it swings in a modern way, not like Woody Herman's 'pop' swing, this is more like 60's upbeat jazz noire in London Town/Helsinki with big band influences Charles Mingus, Miles Davis (Water Babies), Gerry Mulligan and Bill Evans. That said, perhaps you could add in a retro look at Matthew Herbert Big Band's 'Goodbye Swingtime' project (blimey, that was 20 years ago) or even the short lived Gwilym Simcock Nonet (that was an expensive round of drinks!)

Valtteri is the leader of the 17-piece jazz orchestra Ricky-Tick Big Band and a member of the jazz sextet Dalindèo who were at the forefront of the Finnish jazz of the start of the 5-Corners scene (also, nearly 20 years ago) for those that remember the rush of Finnish Ricky-Tick Records.  I distinctly remember picking up Five Corners Quintet's Trading Eights 10" from our local record shop (that then became a sex toy store some years later) where soulful dancefloor jazz revivalist started to take note - it was around this time that JazzCotech started their Shiftless Shuffle sessions in London (this year they've been celebrating their 20th Anniversary) with, umongst many, DJs Paul Murpy (Jazz Room), Colin Parnell and founder Perry Louis (see review of thier 2004 Xmas Special gig HERE); but I digress.

Anything We Jazz produce is class but even for them, this new look at jazz swing in a Nonet band is special; they'd be great to see live too!

And if you happen to be in Helsinki this summer don't forget the Odysseus Festival on 21-23 July that will include many of your We Jazz favourite acts including the Valtteri Laurell Nonet!

Artist: Valtteri Laurell Nonet

Title: Tigers Are Better Looking 

Release date: 3th February, 2023

Label : We Jazz Records

Catalog Number : WJLP44 / CD / Digital / Bandcamp 


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