Olli

At least a couple of times a year I go out to see an unreconstructed blues-rock guitarist called Pat McManus who has incredible chops but does not play jazz, only getting close when he opens up on a Hendrix-like run. I often wonder standing in front of his power trio how it would sound if he played jazz. It probably would not work in the same way. However this guy Olli Hirvonen (photo: Luke Marantz) can do the sort of things I want with a guitar and this summer the guitarist who used to be on the Edition label and who has won a high profile Montreux Jazz Guitar competition judged by John McLaughlin switches to US indie Ropeadope returns with Displace. I have been listening to the album, which I must say is superb, this morning but cannot share anything for the time being: maybe something will turn up on YouTube or Bandcamp and if so I will add a track or two.

It is pretty compulsive stuff kitted out with gutsy McLaughlin-like jagged lines full of intensity and strength. The 30-year-old Finn is in a quartet setting with pianist Luke Marantz, bassist Marty Kenney and drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell. Playing a Fender Jazzmaster solidbody electric guitar there is something completely organic about his sound, full of a very modern sounding jazz without being remotely avant garde but with that spiky sound going on that commands attention. Hirvonen started studying classical guitar in Finland when he was 9, studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and at Manhattan School of Music in New York where his creative world opened up and he began to move away from bebop to the sounds of the likes of Nels Cline and Lee Ranaldo. Next time I hear Pat McManus I will be thinking of Hirvonen and wondering if when the Finn was into Deep Purple years ago he sounded anything like Pat. Look for the record in late-August. SG.