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Solo album "Karhea" review by CriticalJazz, USA / Brent Black (whole review here)
A solo saxophone work from arguable the finest saxophonists from Eastern Europe in Karhea from Esa Pietila.....Pietila clearly shows why his prolific talent has his work revered by the masters of their craft. Karhea is a landmark release for one of the finest saxophone player that I have had the exception to hear. Eg. the tune"Lighting's Surprise" is a master class in the art of the tenor sax. With the exception of Ivo Perleman, Esa Pietila is now hitting his creative genius. Standing the test of time finds Esa Pietila simply aging like fine wine. Pietila gets better and more robust with age. A no brainer for sure...
Album "Out Doors" review by CriticalJazz, USA / Brent Black (whole review here)
Esa Pietilä is a musical visionary and when combined with the percussive onslaught of Jeff Siegel then both Pietilä and Siegel welcome You to the land of harmonic disengagement and the percussive nuance that magically reforms each piece into something new. What is amazing when taken at face value is that Pietilä is without his regular quartet and there was but one rehearsal between Siegel and Pietilä. There are baseless 4tets, piano less trios, and a myriad of ensembles that explore the outer reaches that is the freedom or ground zero of jazz itself.
"Out Doors" gives us a spontaneity lacking in so many other well rehearsed and well timed releases of sonic predictability and the appropriate ambiguity that simple comes along for the ride. "Out Doors" kicks the release off with a more free form open ended lyrical approach to the melody while the articulated percussive nuances guide the rhythmic direction of the piece itself. Pietilä explores every sonic inch of his weapon of choice that being the tenor saxophone. Spontaneous ambiguity centered in the midst of controlled chaos is indeed a beautiful thing....Again the open ended approach with with Siegel and Pietilä is nothing short of brilliant... Pietilä is controlled and precise while sightly methodically in his performance, Siegel conducts a percussive exploratory and together two voice become one. Layers of textures and a detached ambivalence to their craft leaving the listener wanting more. Aurora Borealis is indeed a master class. "Power Orbit" is just that, the controlled sonic fury that is the innate gift to shirt meter, harmonics and dynamics for effect on the fly. The amazing aspect of Out Doors is that a drummer, tenor saxophone duet is rarely if ever heard with perhaps Ivo Perelman that last player I can recall attempting such a fight of fancy.
Esa Pietilä and Jeff Siegel and both exemplary artists that could easily stand along side any ECM artist and literally blow their socks off. A master class of what to do and more importantly what not to do. To dwell on hyper criticism s not how I roll...As close to perfect as you can get if you are looking for that happy place between hard bop and free jazz. A superlative recording.
Professor Stuart Nicholson, Author, Journalist, Lecturer:
“Esa is one of Finland's leading jazz musicians and a dedicated jazz educator. I recommend his albums Direct (Fiasko Records) with Uffe Krokfors on bass and Markku Ounaskari on drums as well as the album Fulica Acra that followed, which show his scope and imagination as a player.”
AllAboutJazz-New York ( Laurence Donohue-Greene ):
About solo saxophone CD "Karhea"....Congrats on the new CD - it's FANTASTIC!
Michael J. Stevens, International Society of Improvised Music:
Esa is a wonderfully gifted saxophonist and composer. I can highly recommend Esa as a composer, performer and educator.”
From an interview by Finnish Music Quarterly, FIMIC, 2008:
Pietilä´s uncompromising approach, search for new angles and refusal to walk the trodden path betray his lofty ambitions, which comes across wonderfully in his most recent trio discs "Direct" and "Travel of fulica atra"
Finnish Music Quarterly:
Esa Pietilä, known as a prowess visionary and improviser”…
Finnish Music Quarterly:
Pietilä is obviously serious about his craft of freeform jazz, and together with bassist Uffe krokfors and drummer Markku Ounaskari, he has created an uncompromising set of mainly collectively improvised material. Never one to blow his lungs out like Peter Brötzmann, but not one to hold back either, Pietilä has a peaceful, storyteller´s approach to his music. He places great attention to creating musical sceneries that are essentially Scandinavian – and – Finnish by nature. Over the six years that Pietilä, Krokfors and Ounaskari have worked together as a trio, their interaction has developed into something seamless. The trio´s enjoyment of playing jazz oozes through and this album may well be their finest effort so far.
Don Williamson, Jazzreview.com:
Bounding into “Mind Hunt,” the first track, with buoyancy and immediate claim to the listener’s attention, Pietilä’s trio puts forth its strengths up front that carry it through the remainder of the album: the group’s engaged absorption in the music, the members’ interest in the infinite potential of the sounds they can create, their openness for free improvisation and the elaboration upon the conventional roles of their instruments. The result is a recording by matured and explorative musicians whose enjoyment in the process of playing jazz comes through in each of the12 tracks.
Pietilä injects immediacy and surprise into his playing by going for unplanned gems that like-minded interaction can discover through spontaneous playing. Pietilä doesn’t include any chorded instruments in his trio, and with good reason: His interests are as much about implication—the spaces between the dots he punches out—as about literal adherence to pre-written composition.
Although Esa Pietilä’s recordings aren’t as heavily promoted as those of saxophonists on larger labels, his work is that of an always explorative saxophonist, accessible though with a personal perspective toward the music he plays. And "Direct" is the work of a jazz artist worth the search. Whole article at: www.jazzreview.com
Robert Spencer, Cadence:
Way up in Porvoo, Finland, Esa Pietilä, the leader of "Direct", has a tenor tone suitable for framing, partaking of the Coltrane and post-Coltrane stream but also icily ruminative a la Jan Garbarek, without dipping into any untoward ECMism. The rhythm section alone on this trio date would prevent that. Take "Mind Hunt," for example: bassist Krokfors quotes "Milestones" (the second one) while drummer Ounaskari plays with as many hands as Elvin Jones at his most ferociously exuberant, and Pietilä manages to evoke this highly-charged Sixties atmosphere while never resorting to the tired bag of tricks that so few have been able to resist before him. Even his reentry after a bass/drum solo on "Headway" strongly recalls the Master's reappearance after a similar interlude on "Alabama," he doesn't allow himself to fall into any of the more obvious traps. Also, throughout this disc he seems to decline to take the bait offered by Krokfors and Ounaskari in particular, although the choices he does make complement their goading and churning just fine without making this into an outright Aylerfest. And his tone is gorgeous, particularly on the ringing "Direct" and the resonating "Point Zero".