Nothing can be taken for granted on this third album from the Martti Vesala Soundpost Quintet. I have a sense of being in a gallery, gazing at paintings on the wall, surprise after surprise walking from one to the next. ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ could easily have been a subtitle for this album.The artistic thread binding together all these landscapes on the wall is, of course, the compelling compositional voice of trumpeter Martti Vesala. Landmarks though is a much, much better title; it celebrates the quintet’s arrival at a place that they may have been searching for in their previous albums full of boundless energy and exploration.
It's a statement of “great calm, longing and space” says Vesala, who also says that he wanted it to sound “more Nordic”. Does that mean the legacy of Miles Davis isn’t hovering quite so closely? Slip into the track ‘Magenta Drive’, or the urgency of the opening of ‘Trial by Fire’ and Vesala certainly parades his old loves, but what is so apparent on Landmarks is that Vesala is revelling being inside the space of his own music, the breadth of his own sound and, in such a painterly, way working with the colours and textures of this fine quintet , taking us on a rollercoaster journey, constantly surprising and delighting. Don’t be misled, however, by this notion of calm and space, there’s plenty of edge, sumptuous dissonances, shades of noir. The lights are dimmed one moment, white hot the next.
There are many truly wonderful moments: Vesala’s duo with percussionist Ville Pynssi for example on the title track, the feline stealth of flautist Petri Puolitaival on ‘Wild Eyes’, the soul of bassist Juho Kivivuori on ‘Closer to the Surface’, and the playful and lyrical keyboards of Joonas Haavisto – his playing on ‘Night Flight Home’ simply shimmers. Each member is brilliant soloist, but they are also a supreme team totally in the groove with Vesala’s compositional visions, his exquisite soundworld and that fiery passion for music.
Martti Vesala Soundpost Quintet: Landmarks
Ozella Music 2022