Prolific Finnish double bass player Antti Lötjönen celebrates his 40th birthday with an impressive debut album as a bandleader. Lötjönen is one of the most active and in-demand bass players in the Finnish jazz scene and is known from his work with local bands as The Five Corners Quintet, 3TM, Ilmiliekki Quartet and Aki Rissanen Trio. «Quintet East» features a front-line of hard-hitters comrades – trumpeter Verneri Pohjola (who hired Lötjönen for his quartet) and sax players Mikko Innanen (of Koma Saxo, who hosted Lötjönen on his Autonomus’ recent «I-XXX», Fiasko, 2019) and Jussi Kannaste (who plays with Lötjönen in the 3TM trio, plus drummer Joonas Riippa (who plays with Lötjönen in the trio of pianist Joonas Haavisto).
«Quintet East» was recorded in December 2019 and features Lötjönen as a mature composer, bandleader and obviously, bass player who is proficient in the DIY ethos of the fiery free jazz of the sixties , but with a personal sound of today’s European jazz. Lötjönen introduces the album with a short, melodic and pastoral solo double bass statement, «Monograph I», later followed by two more brief solo pieces that focus on his advanced technique. Soon after this bass introduction the quintet dives deep into the sensual of «Erzeben Strasse» and already sound as a working band who has developed a sound of its own and close yet open interplay plus a light but tight swinging pulse of Lötjönen and Riipa.
The gospel melody of Robert Kingston’s «Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman» – the only non-original piece here – is stripped down to a gentle dialog-dance of Lötjönen and sax players Innanen and Kannaste. The fast «Pocket Yoga» highlights the role of Lötjönen as the rhythmic heart of his quintet while «Oblique» and «Rowan» offer a more free and improvised strategy of the whole quintet. «Le Petit Lactoire» allows the quintet to experience with an openly emotional and soulful ballad with enough room for solos of Pohjola, Innanen and Kannaste.
Antti Lötjönen (b), Verneri Pohjola (tp, pocket tp), Mikko Innanen (as, bs, sopranino s), Jussi Kannaste (ts), Joonas Riippa (dr)