Markus is a Finnish jazz pianist. He has played in 20 countries. His newest album Flashbacks is now released.
Liner notes for the Flashbacks album by Aaron Goldberg
Recently I discovered the unanticipated riches of the jazz scene in Finland.
A lot has been written about the Finnish character…unpretentious, to the point, well-educated, communitarian, demonstrating integrity and seriousness of purpose.
As far as I have experienced my new friends in Helsinki it’s all true, not only sociopsychologically but also musically.
Markus Niittynen and his colleagues here exemplify all of these admirable qualities as well as display a uniquely personal athletic flair…these four gentlemen like to burn, and the album smolders with fire to spare. But it also captures several varied moments of magic of the elusive type only rarely encountered in the studio…check out my favorite tracks The Flashbacks and Slow Gold in particular.
As a pianist Markus Niittynen is courageous enough to acknowledge his eminent influences.
If I can trust my ears they are all masters from whom I also have drawn much inspiration.
He thus displays both good taste and a refreshingly humanistic philosophy: eschewing both a stereotypically European quest for a ‘national’(istic) jazz aesthetic as well as the contemporary American obsession with identity politics in art, Markus follows nothing more or less than a purely musical logic.
His tirelessly deep love for the greatest exponents of jazz music imbues the heart of his work.
As an individual he gravitates toward the vulcan side, aiming for energy and pop, but he can also channel a lovely lyrical sense and his varied compositions reflect this yin/yang duality.
Perhaps most soulfully, like the late great Harold Mabern (another gentle giant with notably big hands), Markus is a perpetual student who incessantly hones his craft and constantly reflects with humility upon his own skills and achievements.
I both applaud this project and look forward to further harmonious contributions by Markus Niittynen and his esteemed Finnish (and Estonian) peers as they engage with and augment the jazz pantheon, America’s gift to humanity.