PEKKA PYLKK (Mike Nock/ Pekka Pylkkanen) (Naxos Jazz: 8.6028-2)
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Pekka Pylkkänen - saxes, flute, bass clarinet, lay reed, mouth organ
Pekka Luukka - guitars
Seppo Kantonen - keyboards, piano
Hannu Rantanen - bass
Marko Timonen - drums
Tapio '"Mongo" Aaltonen - percussion
When it comes to creative endeavors, it's an increasingly hostile world. The search for validation is a constant struggle for the modern musician. Outside of the practical questions a composer/performer must pose during the creative process (i.e. \Where do I take the melody from here? What type of harmony will I color my lines with? Is this rhythm too complex? Too Simple?") there are philosophical questions as well ("Will listeners perceive it the same way I do? Am I trying to communicate some kind of higher concept here or is it just a self-indulgent sonic exercise? Does anyone else really care?").
However, dwelling too long on such questions may disrupt the creative process. The end result is music that is disjointed, synthetic and void of the human heart. Conversely, composers and performers who have come to terms with such problems seem to tap their intellectual and emotional thoughts at will and weave sounds and rhythms into seamless works of art. It is evident from this recording that Pekka Pylkkänen and the gifted musicians accompanying him, have confronted the short and long term problems of being creative artists, surmounted them and, produced music which is filled with the human heart.
While living in Helsinki, I developed many close friendships. I had the opportunity to work and play with the musicians featured here including Pekka, who I met while teaching at the Sibelius Academy. He was already an accomplished saxophonist and, as many of the Sibelius jazz students did, he played gigs professionally while continuing his studies.
I heard him at his best during the time we spent together in the UMO Jazz Orchestra (the alto saxophone chair that he occupied directly in front of the conductor's podium afforded me the closest listen possible!). When we studied composition together (adhering to the philosophy that I have always learned just as much from my students as they do from me) Pekka was just beginning to develop a sense of the direction he wanted to take his own music. Then, we worked on creating more lyrical melodies, colorful harmonies and most importantly, allowing the form of the composition to create itself (come to think of it, those are still the endeavors of any working composer). Now, a few years later, it's great to see that he persevered in his creative pursuits, honed the finer details of arranging & orchestration and blossomed into an outstanding composer.
A good composer knows that there are two stages to creating music: conception and realization. Pekka's selection of musicians help to facilitate both steps. Much of this music is of a highly improvisational nature and requires musicians who are not only "sidemen" but, accomplished jazz soloists. You can hear with your own ears that each performer delivered an outstanding performance, calling upon their exceptional talents as technicians, improvisers and musical interpreters to assist Pekka in bringing his music to life.
Creativity and innovation are essential for musical evolution and I am delighted to inform you that in the capable hands of Pekka Pylkkänen, Seppo Kantonen, Pekka Luukka, Hannu Rantanen, Marko Timonen and Mongo Aaltonen the future of the creative spirit is assured.
New York City