Alexi Tuomarila Trio – Seven Hills

Recorded in (and named after) Lisbon, ‘Seven Hills’ is the second release from the Alexi Tuomarila Trio following Tuomarila’s turbulent/unfortunate misadventures with Warner Jazz. A well respected jazz pianist hailing from Finland, Alexi Tuamarila  has turned heads over the last few years, receiving accolades from Brad Melhdau among others and recording a handful of albums on several Scandinavian imprints and contributing to Thomas Stankos’ Quintet on the celebrated and unashamedly ethereal ECM label.

Given the little I knew of Tuomarila, ‘Seven Hills’ was not entirely what I was expecting I must confess… namely, it’s very melodically robust with and imbued with a warmth which belied Tuomarila’s Scandinavian heritage and all those annoying and dissonant associations. In fact the album messed with any and all of my preconceptions more than I had imagined it could with its almost hymn-like feel which was alluded to throughout – the record is ethereal and cerebral, but also very soulful and grounded. The earthiness of the album is perhaps testament to Tuomarila’s connection with his music and musicians that accompany him – filled with emotion and melancholy, but balanced with a keen momentum that propels the music and compels the listener to engage.
If I had to make one criticism (I don’t like to, but in this case…) it would be the awful guitar sound utilised to disastrous effect on one of two cameo appearances from Andre Fernades. Given the organic flow of everything else within this record, quite why anyone would stick a rigid, nasal, distorted, swelling guitar sound in the middle of the record is beyond me. Get an old archtop, a valve amp and someone who can rock it like Russell Malone – check his playing on Benny Green’s track “Summer Nights” to see what I mean, stylistically it’s a different beast, but you will hopefully understand.
Minor, nit-picking criticisms aside, ‘Seven Hills’ is a fine and captivating album which I can only imagine will further bolster the Trio’s credentials.
Get the album here.

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