Tag Archives: Edition Records

Edition Records

Album review: Phronesis: Life to Everything (released April 2014)

PhronesisIs it unorthodox to start a review with an appreciation of the recording quality? Yet without the technical skills of Matt Robertson and the sheer genius of the mixing by August Wanngren, we’d not have this album. Without those engineers, the energy, the passion and the sheer life-grabbing urgency that always characterises live performances by Phronesis, only a few hundred people would have experienced this extraordinary trio live, in the round, at The Cockpit in November 2013.

So we have the best of both worlds in this wonderful album – Life to Everything  – the sheer joy and expansiveness of live performance fused with recording-studio sound.   Of course, if you were not there you would not know that Anton often plays with cutlery, that Ivo sits so quietly at the piano, you think he is asleep, and that Jasper moves with his bass like a dancing partner.  And the result of these things is that unmistakable Phronesis sound!   As the audience we responded with whistles, whoops and gasps and that is what you will do at home, you will feel you are there.   The bustle, the clatter, the dancing-down-the-street feel of Anton’s compositions such as Herne Hill  is balanced by the ethereal, symphonic beauty of those of Ivo where he takes us into space and deserts, and explores the unspoken strength of deep friendship in Phraternal,  the life-changing experience (for him and us) that is called Phronesis.  And Jasper’s strong, instantly hummable tunes provide the sinew that runs through it, his bass playing is so delicate and responsive it drives the Phronesis machine as if it were a high-powered car  – which it is.

Phronesis’ fifth album, Life to Everything is quite simply one of the best albums you will hear this year! And their best!


Available here from Edition Records.

Mary James 6 April 2014

Album review: Oddarrang: In Cinema (released Oct 2013)

Oddarrang_In Cinema

It never occurred to me that Oddarrang might not be a Finnish word! It turns out it stands for Odd Arrangement, or so band leader Olavi Louhivuori told me.   I was captivated by Cathedral last May and dazzled by Oddarrang’s performance at London Jazz Festival last year so I came to this album with a great deal of baggage, with high expectations. We have a similar line up (the ‘odd arrangement’) of stringed instruments, trombone, electronics and Olavi on drums, like a sprite conjuring magic in this strange landscape.  Perhaps in keeping with the more sombre environment in which we now find ourselves, this album doesn’t have much of the fairy tale to it on first listening.   Seeing the band at Kings Place in September, where the walls shook with the volume of The Sage and my blood ran cold with fear at one point, the unearthly vocals of Osmo Ikonen rising above the cacophony, it would be reasonable to think this was a very different band, that they have left haunting, spiritual, glacial delicacy behind.

And then suddenly Olavi sat at the piano for just a few bars, a xylophone tinkles and I am sitting in a sleigh on a midnight ride through a snowy moonlit forest, back in that mythical landscape.  How cleverly they play on our emotions.  The album is the score for four films. I have not seen them yet.   In my mind they are all achingly sad or full of terror.  It is always cold, the wind howls. On the ethereal Missing Tapes from a Highway Set the delicate guitar sounds Japanese, a lament from Turandot, there is a sad feel to this track, the trombone’s lovely melody speaks of loss.   Other tracks are anxiety laden, full of foreboding, there are shrieks, the trombone yowls in pain, it is quite nightmarish.

This album grows and glows, it is not glacial at all but fiery.  It is striking in its breadth of emotion and the beautiful physical landscapes it evokes, where subtlety and sheer explosive power are perfectly balanced (as in Self-portrait). And when tranquility morphs into a stadium-filling wall of sound, you feel a sense of shock and loss when it ends.  Masterly.

Oddarrang:   In Cinema

All music composed by Olavi Louhivuori except track 7 by Lasse Lindgren

Olavi Louhivuori, drums, piano, synths, harmonium
Ilmari Pohjola, trombone, guitar
Osmo Ikonen, cello, vocals
Lasse Sakara, guitar
Lasse Lindgren, bass, synths

Oddarrang is available from http://store.editionrecords.com/album/in-cinema

Mary James

Album launch: Kenny Wheeler Mirrors – 25 May 2013

An excited full house at Hall One, Kings Place on 25 May 2013.  We were there for the launch of Kenny Wheeler’s Mirrors,  his settings of poems by Stevie Smith, Lewis Carroll and WB Yeates, with vocals by Norma Winstone and the London Vocal Project.   My anticipation was sharpened by a  pre-concert talk by Pete Churchill.  In a short, perceptive and enjoyable talk we learned that Kenny writes deceptively easy music within complex chords, that he allows his musicians freedom to destroy his work, that he creates order out of chaos and madness.   Like a swan serenely gliding by, we are unaware of the energy and strength beneath that swan.  We learned that sad songs make him happy.  And indeed you are constantly teased in this work by the airy voices of the choir, sounding so Sixties and optimistic, contrasting with lyrics rife with loss, death and mourning.   How masterly.

So, briefed with his insight, we listened and were rewarded with a glorious performance of Mirrors in its entirety,  played without interval.   The vast London Vocal Project, led very subtly by Pete Churchill from the far side of the stage, sounded dazzling, the result of five years singing together.   Their light and young voices, and obvious love of the music, perfectly enunciated the profound, and at times, quite mad, lyrics.  Everyone from the album was there, except James Maddren, replaced by the always reliable Martin France on drums.   The sound was perfect, so flawless you didn’t have to think about it.

At centre stage, the slight modest figure of Kenny, flanked by Mark Lockheart on saxophones, Nikki Iles on piano and Norma Winstone.  All put in bravura, moving performances, Kenny especially so, rising from his chair on at least two occasions to acknowledge our applause, his fragile notes floating in the air.  It was a very special, poignant, evening that matched the promise and rewards of the album.  There was a real buzz at Kings Place afterwards, as if people did not want the evening to end.

Mirrors by Kenny Wheeler with Norma Winstone and the London Vocal Project is available from Edition Records 

CD review: Alexi Tuomarila Trio – Seven Hills – released June 2013

There was a very strong likelihood that the Finnish pianist Alexi Tuomarila could have become a professional tennis player had he not discovered Miles Davis and gone on to study in Brussels where he won many prizes. Those tennis essentials – gracefulness, nimble footwork, sensitivity to the moment and delicacy of touch – are abundantly apparent here in Alexi’s sparkling touch.  I imagine a Roger Federer performance, no pressure visible, feet (or fingers) skimming the ground, elegant changes of direction like a swallow in flight. When Alexi’s career hit a dark patch, titles such as Bone Yard Jive and My Dark Hours hint at the desolation within but now, on Edition Records, he returns to dazzling sunlight with this beautiful album. His playing is breathtaking, it is cool and Scandinavian yet warm and intimate,  a density of notes yet never heavy.  I keep wanting to use the adjective sparkling but that’s what this album is, every track dazzles you with wonder.

He is joined by Mats Eilertsen on bass (Tord Gustavsen Trio and Mats’ own bands, most recently on the exquisite Sails Set) and Olavi Louhivuori on drums (leader of Oddarrang amongst other excellent projects), and on a couple of tracks by Portuguese guitar player André Fernandes. Alexi’s trio have played together before, on his Constellation (2006), well-titled, a pitch for the heavens that he has now reached in Seven Hills.

There are very strong melodies, some hymn-like (Miss), others have a Monk-tinge (Visitor Q), all demonstrate perfect understanding between this trio. The guitar seems to be used (on Prologue and Ceremony) to set up tension,the drums contorted like thunder, but always the piano brings us back to serenity. On Jibeinia, we have the delicate tracery of an extinct fossil bird, a feathered dinosaur set out in Mats’ bass, the piano wistfully trilling a possible call for this long-gone creature.

All the tracks are standout. but I must draw attention to Cyan by Olavi where the trio is at its most etheral. It could be a lullaby for a sleepy child or the remembrance of a perfect summer day, the drums are like rustling silk.

I saw Alexi with this trio earlier in the year at Warwick Arts Centre. We can only hope Alexi tours the UK soon, more people need to experience his sublimely contemplative intensity for themselves. Game, Set and Match to Mr Tuomarila.

Alexi Tuomarila
Alexi Tuomarila, piano
Mats Eilertsen, double bass
Olavi Louhivuori, drums
André Fernandes, guitar



Seven Hill is available from Edition Records and other places

Review: Marius Neset – Birds – released March 2013

So, just how do you follow up a five star album and rave reviews for your live performances? Well, with another five star album of course. And that’s what Marius Neset has done with Birds, released shortly on Edition Records. If anything, Birds is even more joyous and expansive than Golden Xplosion, the cover photo of a leaping-for-joy Marius does more than hint at his energy and youth, it proclaims that being alive is the most precious thing we all have. There are tracks of exuberance and tracks as delicate as a feather, they fuse and meld creating a very satisfying mix. When you have listened to this album, I dare you not to feel happy and optimistic.

Marius has assembled a super-group – the flawless members of Phronesis plus Jim Hart on vibes. And a supporting crew that includes an accordion, his sister Ingrid (a flute virtuoso) and Daniel Herskedal (recently heard with Marius on Neck of the Woods which I reviewed last year). Marius composed all the compositions, it is through-composed and he knew exactly what it would sound like before it was recorded. Yet each musician sounds himself, nothing is forced or artificial. Maybe it is because they can read each other’s minds?

Bird sounds, motifs and allusions infuse this album from the triumphant and joyous title track to the close. All the rhythms of a bird’s life are here from quiet feeding to noisy roosting. Take the climax to Reprise – you can hear a flock of birds taking off, thousands of flapping wings, then suddenly they are gone. There are birds that sound like parrots or parakeets. Jasper’s bass is a strong, strutting crow in Birds, yet warm in The Place of Welcome alongside Jim’s most delicate vibes. Ivo’s piano is a nightingale’s song at twilight.

The celestial, moving, Math of Mars is like looking into a starry sky, a myriad galaxies stretch out for ever, it is a wonderful near-climax to an album which teems with gems and gently slides into the closing Fanfare with military drum beat and reeds. All the glossy birds line up for a farewell, they trill, preen themselves. whistle, squawk, bicker raucously and show off in glorious colour. It’s fantastic fun and we are so fortunate to eavesdrop on it.

Marius will be touring to promote the album from April onwards. I, for one, will be looking forward to seeing him at Cheltenham Jazz Festival on 3 May 2013, I think it could be my gig of the festival. It is already in my top 5 albums for 2013.

Marius Neset

Marius Neset, tenor and soprano saxophones, and all compositions

Ivo Neame, piano

Jasper Høiby, bass

Anton Eger, drums

Jim Hart, vibes

and many others


Birds is available on Edition Records http://www.editionrecords.com/ and other stores