Bright Kari Ikonen Trio
- 3The Testament Of My Heart06:04
- 5Giant Steps04:10
- 6I Fall In Love Too Easily05:32
- 7Trance Oriental05:20
Info for Bright
Finland is not exactly a country known for its joie de vivre. For pianist Kari Ikonen, however, the luminous, vivid sounds and upbeat songs of Bright are an empathetic counterpoint to the mostly dark look on life of his compatriots. A dream-team collaboration with double bassist Ara Yaralyan and drummer Markku Ounaskaris, Bright fuses some of the tastiest ingredients of European jazz-cuisine with filleted afro-american influences (John Coltrane's 'Giant Steps') and spicy transoriental vibes (including Armenian folk songs), taking the classic jazz piano trio into remarkable new directions. Infusing mystic harmonies with a meditative calm, these are forward-looking improvisations - without ever sacrificing the fragile balance between Ikonen's compositional aspirations and individual freedom for the performers.
'Pianist Kari Ikonen, along with Ara Yaralyan (double-bass) and Markku Ounaskari (drums), comprise a trio that finds the balance between improvisation and arrangement; between songs and musicianship; between individual acumen and chemistry. They make music that’s at once catchy and complex, and does so without any reliance on technology or merging with other styles, a tactic that’s becoming increasingly rare when you find it successfully executed as they do it.'
'It’s like that no matter if the material is an Ikonen original or some old standard. Ikonen’s “Bapmgwala” ambles through ambiguous rhythms, a playful piano, and a sharp, readily responsive rhythm section that can swing strongly at any tempo. “Ambivalsante” and “Pacific” are examples of Ikonen’s winding, esoteric and whimsical melodic sense. The former is enhanced by rhythmic shifts and beautifully poetic bass from Yaralyan, both of which add more complexity to the song. The latter feature Yaralyan’s bowed bass and Ounaskari’s tonally pretty cymbal accents, both lightly floating around Ikonen’s melodically focused motions. The way the group is able to modulate the cadence in perfect symmetry on the frisky waltz of “Plumbum,” emulates Chick Corea’s supreme 1968 trio with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes; Ikonen himself masters Corea’s knotty but harmonically sound single note progressions.'
'The trio handles the covers with the same aplomb, easily molding them into their style. The piano intro used for Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” is unrecognizable at first, until Ikonen slips in hints and then gives away the plot when the rhythm section enters. Yaralyan and Ounaskari play free from tempo and Ikonen dances around it in a very playful and teasing way, and the song stumbles up to its climatic end. Gusan Ashot’s “The Testament of My Heart” is not as well known, but Yaralyan’s arrangement does much with this ballad, which begins with his very rangy bass solo and moving into a bowed bass to accompany Ikonen’s piano on this whimsical tune. Back by brushed drums pizzicato bass, Ikonen carries out a solo with real depth and delicacy.'
'I don’t know that the Kari Ikonen Trio and their Bright album will get the chatter stateside as being among the best acoustic jazz trio records out this year, but it should. Inventive, spright and clever, Bright is not just a good Nordic jazz record, it’s world-class good.' (S. Victor Aaron, www.somethingelsereviews.com)
Kari Ikonen, piano
Ara Yaralyan, bass
Markku Ounaskari, drums
Recorded 7 and 8 November 2012 at Studio Emile, Music Center, Helsinki by Miikka Huttunen
Mixed 26 November 2012 at Studio Epidemin, Gothenburg by Johannes Lundberg
Mastered by Hans-Jörg Maucksch at Pauler Acoustics, Germany
Produced by Kari Ikonen
born 1973, Korpilahti, Finland is a pianist and composer. After having studied piano for four years (1989-1993) in Jyväskylä Institute of Music, Kari Ikonen continued his studies in 1994 in piano and later in composition at the Jazz Music Department of Sibelius Academy, with such teachers as Jarmo Savolainen, Jukkis Uotila, Anders Jormin, Mike Gibbs, Sonny Heinilä and Olli Kortekangas. He also spent a semester of 1996 in Rotterdam Conservatory, where he studied with Rob van Kreevelt. He got his master's degree from Sibelius Academy in 2001.
He has performed with many different groups and musicians, for example Karikko (as a leader), Mr. Fonebone, Quartet Coyote, Ahava, Gnomus, Ingrid Jensen, Henry Lowther, Eero Koivistoinen, Jukkis Uotila, Sonny Heinilä etc. With these artists he has performed at many domestic and international festivals, including Pori Jazz, April Jazz, ITA Festival, Boulder, Colorado and Appleby Jazz Festival, England.
His compositions have been played by various small and large ensembles, such as UMO Jazz Orchestra (Finnish Radio Big Band), which has premiered several his compositions, including "Unia" (1997), "Nosreglo" (1998) and "Luoto" (2000). The last-mentioned won the first prize in the Jazz Orchestra category of the Jazz Composers Alliance/Julius Hemphill Composition Awards in USA, 2000 (he was also among the finalists in Small Group category). Another victory came in August 2002, when Ikonen's composition "Peikkola" (2002) won the first prize in "Scrivere in Jazz" competition in Sardegna, Italy.
He has also worked as a teacher (jazz piano, ensemble, solfege) in Jyväskylä Institute of Music 1993-94, Jyväskylä University music education program 1993 and Sibelius Academy Jazz Music Department since 1998.