Mar 17 2014

Shifting the focus

Live concerts! Playing! More!

Starting next Saturday, March 22nd, when my Contemporary Collective will be performing in Temppeliaukio Church, my focus of activity is shifting towards live concerts again.
The Contemporary Collective will henceforth appear in two versions: the sextet/septet that appeared on our recording ‘The Zen Connection‘, which is the version with the string quartet, and then the new compact quartet version that will play next Saturday:
Teemu Viinikainen – guitar, Sid Hille – piano, Heikki Nikula – bass clarinet and Markus Hohti – cello.

Both versions are based on the same intention – to create a bridge, a connection between jazz and contemporary classical music. The obvious difference being that for the string quartet version the music has to be constructed beforehand in order to make full use of the polyphonic possibilities.

Next Saturday we will be improvising to a very large extent. And what a thrill it is! Four such unique voices!
In a similar way that Beethoven described the string quartet as four cultivated people having a conversation, this will be a conversation of four experienced improvisers, four different instruments plus the use of electronics, two players coming from a jazz point of view and two from a contemporary classical one.

A conversation about eight topics.
I drew a kind of landscape map, a parameter chart, that serves as a point of departure, but the participants are free to digress, take liberties in execution or remain silent.
You have the right to remain silent. How important this is in music. The silences!
Listening, before responding.

The best thing about it is, that we have a common understanding of aesthetics: there will be wild, exciting bits as well as fragile, prayer-like sections. In the rehearsals we played some spontaneous counterpoint improvisations that could have been composed by Gesualdo, weird and chromatic, yet ecstatically beautiful.

So after three years of focussing on composing, after three solo concertos (trombone, piano and bandoneon), FEUER for orchestra and choir, two films, big band and chamber music – I am amazed myself at how much one gets done by just continuing to do – all thanks to the support of the Arts Council of Finland…..
After all this, I’ll be back on the road.

Well, actually I’ll probably be just as much in my office organizing the gigs.
And not to forget the Jazz Opera ‘Jonny swipes again’.
I won’t be able to refrain from the pen altogether.
‘Jonny’ is due in October 2015 at music theater Kapsäkki in Helsinki.

Keep an eye on the gig calendar!

Mar 8 2014

Well done!

What an exciting spring it is!
After having spent a big part of the past two years in the composer’s shed, now I’m in full steam organizing concerts again.

Of course I will continue writing (my jazz-opera ‘Jonny swipes again’ and some smaller compositions are waiting by the piano), but the focus shifts clearly to performing again.

It was such a kick to play with the Film Collective, such fine musicians – and great guys to hang out with, too. Thanks again to Verneri, Pope, Teemu, Antti and Teppo!
I was also very happy with the new piece ‘Music for an imaginary picture’, which, it seems, has gotten a proper name now: ‘Brotherhood’. I still have to complete it. We played four parts in the concert at Sellosali. It needs one more. Thinking about recording it – let’s see!

This band will meet next time for the gig at Juttutupa on May 14th. Join us there, if you can!
Great music and, as is the customs there, entrance for free!

In the meantime I’ll be busy with preparing the other unique project of this year: the Contemporary Collective is getting the big treatment, concerts in spring and a tour in fall!

But for that I’ll write a separate blog.
For the time being you might want to put a mark in your calendar for March 22nd.

Feb 10 2014

Film Collective

A few pages still have to be added or fine-tuned, but this new site starts looking good and I’m not working on it every day anymore.
Instead other office duties have taken over: arranging rehearsals for the spring concerts, booking gigs for fall 2014, planning the repertoire(s), finding the according sheet music in the depths of my shelves, but most importantly and rather urgently: writing the new piece for the Film Collective gig at the Sellosali on February 27th.

Two more weeks before rehearsals and I ‘ve got on paper about 10 minutes of a piece that’s supposed to last 40.
But, no sweat! I’ve got a pretty good idea where I want to go with this.
It’s called ‘Music for an imaginary motion picture’ and there will be all sorts of ethnic as well as electronic sounds. Pope gets to play alto flute, Antti will hit his bass with mallets, me and Teppo get to tinker around with what I call the ‘kitchen sink’. It’s a term I stole from Miles to describe some fierce rattling in the percussion department. I love that stuff.
If you’ve seen us at Jazz Espa Festival last year, you know what I’m talking about.
Then, we were still bound by the tunes from the film score of ‘The two and only’.
We will play those, too, in the first set of the concert.
In the second set however, all leashes are set loose.
Everybody will be flying. Musically, that is.
And Nina, who is taking care of the lighting at Sello, will give us some pretty psychedelic stuff to look at, too.

So, join us: Verneri Pohjola – trumpet, Pope Puolitaival – sax & flutes, Teemu Viinikainen – guitar, Sid Hille – piano, Antti Lötjönen – bass and Teppo Mäkynen – drums
at Sellosali, Leppävaara, Espoo on Thursday February 27th at 7pm
Tickets available now and at the door: 15,50€

Sid Hille film Collective

While uploading material onto this new platform I ran into some older material I haven’t been listening to in a while.

Forgive the expression, but OMG – the Platypus Ensemble was one cooking band.
It seems about high time to get these guys together again for some gigs and reminiscing.

Some of you might know that Platypus was one of the essential chamber-jazz bands of Finland, operating between 1997 and 2008.
We toured to quite some extent also in Central Europe, like Germany, France, Holland…

In 2008 we released a great record called ‘Rite of Passage’ together with the Proton String Quartet.
Listen to this sample of a piece called ‘Vrindavan in Vindala’

Still working on the page.
This takes an amazing amount of time.
The nice thing about it is that you learn while you go.
Sometimes I feel, though, I should be doing other things than looking at my website all morning, like – composing?
Or how about practicing the piano?
What about calling some people to organize some concerts?
And the material for the concerts that are already booked – posters, info flyers, the music for the band, scheduling rehearsals?
Not to mention promoting the new record, applying for grants for upcoming projects.
Nah, maybe I write a blog about all this first….

This administrating stuff can drive you crazy.