This is some world class music performed by a world class ensemble. As the title implicates this is all about West Coast jazz from the fifties. Not really, musically or by the compositions but by the overall feeling. Sure , there are some real West Coast jazz standards but most of the music is not originally from there. Actually most of the compositions are by the leader, a very versatile drummer Teppo Mäkynen and a few pieces written by some other jazz musicians who didn’t have a real direct connection to West Coast jazz (like George Gershwin or Sy Oliver).
However, the most important and touching feature on these two albums is ”The Spiritual Heritage” of the West Coast jazz feeling. It can be heard in the subtle harmonies, arrangements and in the whole essence of this music. Whether or not the compositions are from the 50’s California or not. Generally, the beautiful arrangements, made about 50/50 by Mäkynen and Jussi Lampela (not in the ensemble) make these records sound like 50’s West Coast jazz in an overall of 2010’s. Past and present, history and today, looking forward to the future.
Along with the beautiful melodies and songs there is something else and a lot to enjoy, too. These fantastic, quite young guys as soloists. They make such a great work! Some of them have already an international career. Like alto sax / cl man Jukka Perko who is stunning with both his axes on many songs. Like the primus motor Teppo Mäkynen. And like the bass king Antti Lötjönen (Ilmiliekki Quartet etc.), and Jukka Eskola on trumpet and flugelhorn.
The very basis of this octet are Mäkynen, Perko and Lötjönen. They, for example, perform as a trio, on Mäkynen’s ”Saddlebred” (on Vol. 1). And on that same album (Vol. 1) there is this amazing, long drum solo part by Mäkynen (”Drums, For Example”) where he plays, as on the cover indicated, too, ”13 Impulsive Short Stories and Poems in Rhythm”. It is pure magic. A feast of the feasts in drumming. And this is NOT some studio stuff, I’ve been lucky enough to hear that ‘saga’ alive, too.
But if you want to watch the Finnish future jazz development, then check out two names from these albums already: baritone king Ville Vannemaa and trombonist Kasperi Sarikoski! You’ll definitely hear more from those guys during this decade. These both have a lot of solos and the way and style play them…
So you might ask why this two-day recording has been released in two separate packages just a few months in between of them. Why not to make a double-CD right away. Well, that’s a good question indeed. I just don’t know the answer. I’m wondering that, too.
Teppo Mäkynen (dr), Antti Lötjönen (b), Jukka Perko (as, cl), Ville Vannemaa (bs), Jukka Eskola (tp, flh), Mikko Karjalainen (tp, flh), Miika Jämsä (tuba), Kasperi Sarikoski (tb, cowb)