Captained by pianist-drummer-composer Jussi Fredriksson, sextet Flame Jazz Messengers bring out their debut, Port Arthur, on Fredriksson Music on 9 September. The group is the newest extension of the project Flame Jazz, launched by Fredriksson to enliven the jazz life of the old capital, Turku. In addition to the drumming leading man, Flame Jazz Messengers is composed of vibraphonist Severi Pyysalo, trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, alto saxophonist Max Zenger and bassist Teemu Åkerblom – all of whom belong to Finland’s finest jazz musicians. In addition to the Finns, Fredriksson has recruited Swede Karl-Martin Almqvist to occupy the tenor saxophonist’s seat. A mini album launch tour takes the sextet to play at four cities in early September.
When writing material for the band, composers Pyysalo and Fredriksson have drawn inspiration from the spirit of Turku and preservation of the Baltic Sea. The result is a combination of strong melodies, energetic soloistic tours de force and experiments on dynamics. “Port Arthur reflects the cosy atmosphere and roaring jazz boom of the old capital,” says Fredriksson about the debut effort. “For me it is a special honour to write music with the brilliant Severi Pyysalo. Having his playing recorded is, in my opinion, always a cultural deed.”
Flame Jazz Messagers is a true Scandinavian all-star outfit. The recognisable sound of Verneri Pohjola, one of the strongest voices of his generation and a former Flame Jazz Artist of the Year, melds with the tender, subtle expression of Karl-Martin Almqvist, while the rest of the crew has been assembled from familiar Turku-based faces. The legendary vibraphonist Severi Pyysalo is responsible from world-class soloistic feats, whereas the Flame Jazz primus motor Fredriksson keeps the groove together with his electrifying drumming. Rising stars saxophonist Max Zenger and bassist Teemu Åkerblom represent the younger generation and its confident sound and explosive energy.
Flame Jazz Messengers is a collective formed on the principles the association Flame Jazz: originality, openness and internationality. Flame Jazz Messengers is a very concrete embodiment of these values. Flame Jazz the association has recently joined forces with two other local jazz players, Turku Jazz Festival and Turku Jazz Orchestra, on the cultural project Jazz City Turku. This three-year project pilots a new kind of efficient production model, where three different organisations co-operate and complement each other. Such aims as establishing regular jazz concert activity in Turku will improve musicians’ employment and enrich local cultural and business life.
Flame Jazz Messengers: Port Arthur
Fredriksson Music 2016 (FRMCD019, release date 9 Sept 2016, digital release 2 Sept 2016)
Distributor: Playground Music
1. Port Arthur (comp. Severi Pyysalo) / 2. Pinky Blues (comp. Jussi Fredriksson) / 3. Genau (comp. Severi Pyysalo) / 4. No Blue-Green Alga, please (comp. Jussi Fredriksson) / 5. Que sera (comp. Jay Livingston, arr. Severi Pyysalo) / 6. How deep is the ocean (comp. Irving Berlin, arr. Jussi Fredriksson)
Verneri Pohjola, trumpet / Max Zenger, alto saxophone / Karl-Martin Almqvist, tenor saxophone / Severi Pyysalo, vibraphone / Teemu Åkerblom, double bass / Jussi Fredriksson, drums
Flame Jazz Messengers live
Wed 7 Sep at 19:00 Helsinki, G Livelab
Thu 8 Sep at 19:00 Tampere, TTT Club
Fri 9 Sep at 19:00 Turku, Flame Jazz, Sigyn Club, Turku Conservatory
Sat 10 Sep at 19:00 Salo, Salo Jazz, Theatre Provinssi