X marks the spot for mallet-driven jazz in this case, but the album title also means ten, as in ten years. The trio Herd made up of Panu Savolainen (mallets), Mikko Pellinen (bass) and Tuomas Timonen (drums) was founded ten years ago. They won first prize at the European Jazz Competition presented by Rotterdam’s North Sea Jazz Festival in 2011. Since then, they have gigged in Finland and abroad, for instance in Australia. This is only their second album to date, except for a collaborative venture with singer Aili Ikonen.
The vibraphone is classically-trained Savolainen’s main instrument, and he doubles on marimba and glockenspiel. The subtle use of electronics enhances the sonic palette. Pellinen exclusively plays amplified ukulele bass on the album. Far from being a novelty, the instrument blends well in the soundscape, delivering a piquant contemporary flavour and providing a solid backbone together with Timonen’s dynamically driving drums.
Ten years on the road translates into excellent ensemble playing, of course, yet the main attraction of this album is the capricious songs, reflecting ten years of evolution. Rather than focusing on solos, Herd distils the music into a collective endeavour.
Panu Savolainen (vibrafone)
Mikko Pellinen (bass)
Tuomas Timonen (drums)
Doorbell Music 2019, DOORBELL0004