Finnish prolific guitarist-composer Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen presents his new project, a Nonet with its debut album Tigers Are Better Looking with renowned Finnish clarinetist Antti Sarpila, plus a cast of Helsinki-based musicians from several of the top Finnish groups. Pöyhönen is known also as the leader of the sextet Dalindèo and the Ricky-Tick Big Bans.
Tigers Are Better Looking was inspired by the collection of short stories by the same name by the British-Caribbean author Jean Rhys (1890–1979), published in 1968. The 6-piece suite is a melancholy, intimate chamber jazz suite. Laurell Pöyhönen’s highly melodic music relies on the legacy of the Dixieland and the cool jazz of the West Coast and swings leisurely and gently, spiced with rich, well-thought-of arrangements for the potent Nonet.
Laurell Pöyhönen states Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis’ Water Babies and Charles Mingus among the key musical influences of his compositions for this album. Through Rhys’s text, Pöyhönen finds a special sense of detachment and reserved and introspective melancholy evident in this suite. Laurell Pöyhönen employs Sarpila as the main soloist, alongside himself on the electric guitar, and Sarpila’s singing clarinet anchors the repeating themes of the suite as well as the Nonet playful and emphatic interplay and often sounds as if floating high above the sonic clouds of the Nonet.
Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen (el.g), Antti Sarpila (cl), Jukka Eskola (tp, flh), Petri Puolitaival (as, fl), Jussi Kannaste (ts), Antti Rissanen (tb), Ville Vannemaa (bs), Ville Herrala (b), Jaska Lukkarinen (dr)