Take It With Me
Comprising four conservatory-trained Finnish musicians, the Ilmiliekki Quartet quickly piled up the accolades upon its founding in 2002. In addition to taking first place in the Young Nordic Jazz Comets competition and being named Young Artist of the Year by the Finland Festivals group, the group earned the Teosto Prize from the Finnish Composers’ Copyright Society for its debut 2003 release March of the Alpha Males. For its follow-up, 2006’s Take It With Me (TUM), Ilmiliekki took its inspiration from vocal music. As trumpeter and composer Verneri Pohjola relates in the album notes, his teachers had always encouraged their instrumentalist students to listen to and learn from singers, suggesting the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Although Pohjola had resisted the advice at the time, he came to appreciate it later, and mentions that in the two years between recordings, he listened exclusively to singers. His own tastes led him to Tom Waits, Björk, Johnny Cash and Suzanne Vega, and their influence — as well as compositions from Waits, Vega and Red Hot Chili Peppers — made its way into Take It With Me. The track “So Far,” included here, was penned by the Ilmiliekki’s drummer, Olavi Louhivuori, and was originally intended for a joint project between the group and the Meta4 string quartet. Arranged here for just the four pieces, the tune starts off on an introspective note, the mood established by Antti Lötjönen’s resonant pizzicato bass and Pohjola’s cottony trumpet. Pianist Tuomo Prättälä enters tentatively, as Pohjola’s brass becomes almost strident, at one point emulating the lonely cry of geese against a leaden sky, the melancholy mood picked up by Louhivuori’s quietly brushed drums. In time for its 20th anniversary, Ilmiliekki Quartet released a new, self-titled vinyl album in February on We Jazz Records.