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The Five Corners Quintet

SOURCE: Published: 2005-09-14
It may be of no surprise that a band should release a few vinyl singles that filter to key tastemakers to critical acclaim. That they should receive praise from an ever-increasing underground scene, and that the hype surrounding them escalates beyond a core. Indeed, that sales of those singles should quickly reach over 12,000, and they find themselves performing on Top of the Pops in their home country. But in the case of the Helsinki-based postmodern jazz outfit, the Five Corners Quintet, it should.

For this is pure unadulterated jazz. Not housey nu-jazz, or jazz fused with hip-hop or rock, but jazz in the classic modernist spirit. A jazz that resonates with early sixties straight-ahead and Latin. As one critic claimed of the first single, “'Trading Eights' snaps like a classic bit of Blue Note soul jazz. a soaring little groover with great rhythms that hooks the tune up nicely for the dancefloor. Real jazz played by a hip little quintet".

The two innovators behind Five Corners Quintet are composer, producer and arranger Tuomas Kallio and the band's benevolent svengali and record label manager Antti Eerikainen. In musical terms the goal of the FCQ is to set an example of how, with contemporary production, stylish jazz tailored for the dance-floor can fruitfully meet the musical craftsmanship of the past. “I guess most people feel that the lush sound of classic jazz vinyl creates an exceptional mood that records of today fail to reach" says Tuomas, “that is exactly the atmosphere I was after for the project".

Chasin' The Jazz Gone By is the debut album from the Five Corners Quintet, featuring world-class guest vocalist, Mark Murphy. Six time Grammy nominee and 4-time Downbeat readers poll winner, the original jazz hipster is featured on three of the 12 tracks. Also featured is the gorgeous voice of Paris-based Okou who opens the album with a graceful blues.

Much of the FCQ crossover appeal is clearly the healthy mix of talents from different generations of players. Eero Koivistoinen is a tenor sax heavyweight who has been around since the sixties. Similarly, Severi Pyysalo, a jazz heavyweight on vibes is a Blue Note recording artist. Both bring heaps of experience to the group, whereas newer talents such as drummer Teppo Makynen, (voted year after year as the number 1 drummer among the Finnish jazz press and internationally known for Nuspirit Helsinki and his solo project Teddy Rok Seven) and the young trumpet phenomenon Jukka Eskola are essential in balancing the traditional with the modern. The orchestration arrangements for a 12-piece string and French horn ensemble complete the lush sound and atmosphere of the record.

In the studio The Five Corners Quintet is a gathering of some of the finest contemporary jazz musicians both from the Finnish and International jazz scene. Brought together by producer and arranger Kallio, musicians are selected, track by track, for the different combinations and instrumentation he visions. Utilizing both the analogue and digital domain, they draw on tools from tape recorders to samplers and sequencers, so, while the sound of the FCQ is similar to the jazz of the mid 20th century, the studio setting is entirely different.

Live, The Five Corners Quintet tell another story. On stage they are a real band featuring real musicians: no machines, no samplers, no DJ's but instead energy, interaction and world class level of musicianship. Interestingly, Tuomas is not part of the live set-up, instead he passes the responsibility of successfully interpreting the studio sound to drummer Makynen. Technically talented and musically innovative, the live band is a phenomenal jazz quintet/sextet/septet that appeals to the seated jazz audience and a dancing club crowd alike. The live version of the 5CQ is a delicious mix of old and new and their compositions probably manage to lure some stubborn-ish traditional jazz listeners to embrace the dancefloor jazz sounds of the 21st century. The crossover thing works the other way around too, introducing more traditional sounds to those appreciating the new grooves.

As one critic comments “this is heavy, real jazz for the future."

Sound Samples at CD Universe.

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