Mika Pohjola - piano
The Sound of New England, Vol 1, recorded in a two-day studio session in July 2022, is pianist and composer Mika Pohjola's first solo piano album in more than ten years. This wholly improvised sixteen-track entirety contains his impressions from the New England region, with an emphasis in the Boston area. Stylistically this outing moves in the landscape of jazz and contemporary American classical styles, which were also were the directions Pohjola pursued during his studies at Berklee College of Music in the 1990s.
The album starts off with a dedication to Pohjola's first impression from Boston in May 1992, a humid day around a hundred degrees (Fahrenheit), having "never experienced anything remotely as hot during my childhood in the moderate temperatures of Scandinavia." The album moves through impressions of nature such as "Maine Birds" into urban life such as "One Twenty Eight", "Burlington Blues" the humorously Boston accented "Pahk Street" and "No Smoking, Please!" referring to the subway announcement on the Red Line. The politically conscious "Senator from Connecticut" and "New Hampshire Primaries" adds to the multi-faceted impressions of New England, which Pohjola during his twenty years of residency in the United States experienced, having visited his alma mater as a frequent lecturer. The album closes with the pictorial and melancholy "September Minuet."
Mika Pohjola's recording career spans thirty years during which he has recorded jazz albums and multi-tracked orchestral works in New York City. In the 2010s he worked as a sound engineer and producer/editor of contemporary classical productions in Stockholm, Sweden. His solo piano improvisations are a successful merger between jazz as well as classical styles, which indeed characterize much of the musical directions present in the Boston academic circles.
The Sound of New England, Vol 1 invites the listener on an imaginary trip to the nature of New England as well to a personal rendition of the stimulating academic environment in the Boston area.