Saxophonist and composer Eero Koivistoinen (b. 1946), who recently received the Finnish State Award for Music, is considered a true living legend of Finnish jazz. He has honed his skills since the 60s, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise that his playing is superb.
Still one cannot help thinking that he has reached a kind of a new plateau as a player. This doesn’t necessarily mean more or faster, but rather the opposite. All notes seem cautiously measured, leaving minute excess.
The quartet, with the considerably younger members - pianist Alexi Tuomarila, bassist Jori Huhtala, and drummer Jussi Lehtonen - is in fine fettle after five years of interplay, performing at clubs and festivals in Finland and the USA.
The music is by Koivistoinen, save “Blue in Green” by Bill Evans. Some of the songs have been released earlier; “Straight Up”, for instance, exists at least in three different versions.
This recording is the last one made in the now-defunct Studio M1 of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE that was the cradle of many fine recordings over the last 35 years. The last song on the album is aptly titled “Goodbye M1”.
EERO KOIVISTOINEN QUARTET: Illusion
Eero Koivistoinen, tenor & soprano saxophone
Alexi Tuomarila, piano
Jori Huhtala, bass
Jussi Lehtonen, drums