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Alexi Tuomarila | Sphere

Sphere is the 3rd album from the brilliant Finnish pianist, Alexi Tuomarila and his trio with bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Olavi Louhivuori. They are joined by guest trumpeter Verneri Pohjola on Sphere, a simply brilliant album that brings together powerfully melodic, driving,  rhythmical soloing, Finnish melancholy to create some of the finest musicianship to emerge from any currant Nordic ensemble. 

Worldwide Release: 24th May 2019
Format: LP, CD & Digital
CD Cat # – EDN1128
CD Barcode – 5060509790630
LP Cat # – EDNLP1128
LP Barcode – 5060509790647

Alexi Tuomarila piano
Mats Eilertsen double bass
Olavi Louhivuori drums

Verneri Pohjola trumpet (tracks 2, 5 and 7)

All music by Alexi Tuomarila
Produced by Dave Stapleton

1 Shapeshifter (Alexi Tuomarila)
2 Jord (Olavi Louhivuori)
3 Origins (Alexi Tuomarila)
4 Sirius (Olavi Louhivuori)
5 Boekloev (Mats Eilertsen)
6 Unfold (Mats Eilertsen)
7 Krakow (Alexi Tuomarila)
8 Celeste (Olavi Louhivuori)

Sphere Reviews

“The jazz trio is brought to dizzying life in the hands of Alexi Tuomarila and friends.”
– Barry Witherdon, BBC Music Magazine, UK ***** (5 Stars), Album of the Month

“With his fourth release – Sphere – the trio has fulfilled its promise.”
– Harri Uusitorppa, Helsingin Sanomat, FI ***** (5 Stars)

“…the album is also over run with some great free flowing improvisation and interaction between the musicians is tight, strong and maintained throughout. The structures are sound yet within them is freedom and improvisation, centred but also given energy and drive. A great album, delivered with style and panache.”
– Sammy Stein, Free Jazz Collective, US ***** (5 Stars)

“Though Glenn Gould and Alexi Tuomarila are two quite different pianists with two different musical outlooks, they do share something in common, two huge talents.”
– Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise Magazine, UK **** (4 Stars)

“Alexi Tuomarila and his longtime partners Mats Eilertsen and Olavi Louhivuori combine a dreamlike interaction, each of which contributes their own pieces to the repertoire.”
– Berthold Klostermann, Fono Forum Magazine, DE ****(*) (4,5 Stars)

“This is a fine and satisfying album where Tuomarila’s trio seems to have coalesced into one articulate, comfortable unit.”
– Roger Farbey, All About Jazz, UK **** (4 Stars)

“If you like contemporary European Jazz, you’re going to love this.”
– Fred Neighbour, UK Vibe, UK ***** (5 Stars)

“Sphere is once again a smashingly good album. One of those albums that indicates that jazz lives like never before. And with this album Alexi Tuomarila proves once more that he is now truly one of the greatest and most important pianists in jazz. And his trio is one that defies categorisation.”
– Dick Hovenga, Written In Music, NL *****(*) (4,5 Stars)

“Tuomarila breaks the tension and goes off on a tremendous rhapsodic solo, fully demonstrating why he’s viewed as one of the bright lights on the European jazz scene.”
– Matt Groom, Presto Music, UK // Recording of the week

“Alexi Tuomarila Trio is quite simply among the best there is in piano trios nowadays”
– Tor Hammerø, Nettavisen, NO

“Tuomarila breaks the tension and goes off on a tremendous rhapsodic solo, fully demonstrating why he’s viewed as one of the bright lights on the European jazz scene.”
– Pascal Rozat, Jazz Magazine, FR **** (4 Stars)

“Thanks to the inventive rhythms, the melodic richness and the great playing, this has become a unique and important album, with which the Alexi Tuomarila Trio proves that the modern piano trio can still push its limits.”
– Mathijs van den Berg, Jazzenzo, NL

“Thanks to the inventive rhythms, the melodic richness and the great playing, this has become a unique and important album, with which the Alexi Tuomarila Trio proves that the modern piano trio can still push its limits.”
– Jan Hocek, Jazzport, CZ 100%

About Sphere

For more than 15 years Alexi Tuomarila has been quietly building a considerable reputation as one of the finest pianists of his generation in Europe, described by Jazz Times as ‘…one of the next big deals on jazz piano…’ and selected as one of the New Future Names of International Jazz by distinguished British jazz journalist Stuart Nicholson in the Observer newspaper. 

Alexi has built an extensive catalogue both as a leader and as sideman with many groups, including for ECM with the late great trumpeter Tomas Stanko. With Sphere he has produced his most accomplished album yet featuring his long-term collaborators, bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Olavi Louhivuori, and with the addition of guest soloist and Edition artist Verneri Pohjola. Alexi says: ‘’For me Sphere in this context represents the constantly morphing and boiling space, where music is happening… the musical sphere is constantly changing and evolving, as is the musicians’ personal taste and approach towards music. I don’t think it’s possible to reinvent the piano trio, but it’s certainly possible to be influenced and touched by many different cultures and musical styles, and to integrate what has been learned into one’s music and playing.” Alexi demonstrates by his musical progression on his albums for Edition – 2017’s Kingdom, 2013’s Seven Hills and his album with Drifter – Flow from 2015 – that he is not only influenced by the music and the situations around him, but that like the artist he is, he is able to mold and shape these influences into something new and exciting. 

The almost eerily intuitive playing of the trio stems from Alexi, Olavi and Mats’  long relationship – not just in this trio but in a host of other musical situations: “We have played together for 15 years as a trio and also in multiple other contexts, so we have grown into a strong unit. Besides having played so much together, we also all compose and play each other’s songs. So each of us contributes ideas equally to the music.

The addition of the superb young Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola to the mix (surely one of the brightest talents in the jazz world today) enriches the trio sound and brings out new elements in the trio’s compositions. “We all have been working together with Verneri in different combinations, so having Verneri playing and interpreting the songs felt really natural and made a lot of sense. He really was able to bring life to the songs.”

Sphere is simply quite brilliant, bringing together strong melodic, driving, rhythmical soloing, Finnish melancholia and some of the finest musicianship to emerge from any Nordic small ensemble. It has a wonderful freedom within the structure of its memorable compositions. The disc has that ‘classic album’ feel: it will be listened to again and again, studied by musicians and admired by many. 

This is music that captivates, moving all with its strong melodies and driving improvisations. Listen to the moment in the opening track when Alexi Tuomarila fluidly transitions into his improvisation. The energy is pure and uplifting.

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