Bullhorn by Verneri Pohjola is a statement of intent: though it is his third recording as leader, it’s his first with Edition and a milestone in his evolution as a top rank trumpeter.
What he delivers are ten tracks, all self penned, self aware, confident, in which Pohjola is demonstrably clear in what he wants to achieve.
The harmonies are not complex and, though driven from the off by Pohjola’s distinctive tone, sometimes declamatory, sometimes soft, the affect of cohesion, such as with Another Day, is achieved with the impeccable support of a quartet of understated musicians.
It can feel if bassist Anitti Lotjonen and drummer Teppo Makynen are in a separate room, for Bullhorn is unmistakably a homage to the trumpet of Pohjola.
Girls of Costa Rica has repeat phrasing by Pohjola, while the quartet maintains the harmony, until finally a torsioned tenor saxophone (Jussi Kannaste) is like a blackbird flying, singing on the wing, the gorgeous notes brought home by percussion and bass, and Pohjola finishes as he began.
Pohjola has a gra for intimate sounds and lyricism, and He Sleeps, I keep Watch has a somnolent trumpet at its most seductive, a melodic miracle monitored by Makynen.
Pohjola’s recitals are neither dense not brash, and his horn, though lush and effusive, is always restrained, the heart beat of a dawn and not a tempest, and as far remove in colour and tone from what we might expect from Nordic jazz, an onomatopoeic prayer to its unforgiving landscape.
Pohjola’s tone is warm: the overall picture is impressionistic, and you could make love all night long to In La Borie, and never sleep.
There isn’t a weak composition on Bullhorn, the notes floating like spent dragonflies at a brimming well, and the playing of Pohjola is enticing and absorbing: you could spend a week getting out of bed to The End is Nigh.