About this Recording

Conjuring images of the impenetrable and obscure, Opaque is a good description of the mysterious (but good) feel of Finland's Pekka Pylkkanen's brand new CD.

Far from a negative thing, the density and darkness are what give this record an intriguing depth. The opaqueish feeling is a recurrent theme in many of the tunes on this appealing and accessible album. Occasionally, it appears in the guise of an ever present density, or darkness of harmony, or mixed with the moods of autumn and winter in tunes like 'Donnerwetter,' 'Lumi' (snow) and 'Un Trou Dans La Boue' (a hole in the mud). The slight melancholy, autumnal mood adds to its harmonic beauty.

But least you think the music's brooding origins are from the recesses of Pylkkanen's consciousness, the associations of rain and rough weather actually come from his spending a bad weather summer in a muddy hole digging a water channel for pipes to his house's sauna. In truth, the music on Opaque is also full of brilliant melodic turns and melodic shades.

Besides his steam bath, other inspirations include Oscar Wilde's novel 'The Picture Of Dorian Gray,' Balinese poly-rhythms, the music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal. At times, the light shine brilliantly on Opaque - as on the Pascoal influenced 'Hilipata' - and when it does the music grooves as fluidly as you'd expect Nordic melodies and Latin rhythm would together.

Opaque is Pylkkanen and band's follow-up to his enjoyable 1999 Naxos self-titled debut, Pekka's Tube Factory. However, these are not his only connections to Naxos Jazz. As one of Finland's premier reed players, Pylkkanen has also performed as a part of the recordings by Jere Laukkanen's Finnish Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra and UMO Jazz Orchestra's first Naxos Jazz CD.

Based in Helsinki, Pylkkanen was already an accomplished saxophonist in Finland when he decided to study jazz at the Sibelius Academy, while playing gigs professionally on the side. As a member of Finland's foremost big band, the UMO Jazz Orchestra, he occupied the alto saxophone chair directly in front of the conductor.

From there, he started to develop his own sense of composition, creating lyrical melodies, colorful harmonies and, most importantly, allowing the form of his composition to create itself. With Opaque, Pylkkanen has taken his well-rounded creativity further than it has ever gone. Ironic as it is to say, he opens and reveals himself on Opaque as he has never done before.

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