Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. Finland’s We Jazz records have proven themselves to be one of the most prolific labels in the genre’s recent history, and they’re a firm favourite here at Vinyl Corner. In this, the second of three articles on their latest titles, we’re looking at the spartan, understated work found on Bowman Trio’s sophomore effort ‘Persistence’.
Scandinavia is home to one of the most active and intriguing jazz scenes of the modern age, as eagle-eyed observers of the genre well know. The 2016 debut of Helsinki’s Bowman Trio heralded them as a group capable of crafting spare, pensive moments in time through their knack for understated yet fluid modern jazz. ‘Persistence’ carries on in much the same direction as their first offering but refines the formula, presenting a pithy collection of short-form focused pieces that craft a salient atmosphere all their own. Production is respectfully subtle, offering an immediate and realistic soundstage that suits these unpretentious, concise pieces well.
There is a coloured vinyl option available for ‘Persistence’, but for today’s article we’re looking at the black vinyl release. Removing the record from its inner sleeve, initial signs are promising. The disc is visually clean and free of the fingerprints and surface marks that all too often appear on new LPs. Dropping the stylus down, we were impressed by a low noise floor and tidy run-in grooves free of surface noise and crackle. The high standard of quality continues throughout, with barely a crackle registering across the whole album. Relatively few modern labels balance a strong level of quality control with an accessible price-point; when such a feat seems to elude even many major-label subsidiaries, it’s especially impressive that We Jazz are able to do just that.
In past Vinyl Corner instalments, we’ve praised the classy aesthetic so often found on We Jazz releases but also noted that the sleeves are often made from fairly lightweight card. ‘Persistence’ marks a significant step-up in the label’s standards of presentation. The cover here is made from heavy-duty card produced in the time-tested tip-on style that will be familiar to many a collector. Such covers were commonplace in North America during the ’50s and ’60s but were largely discontinued by the early ’70s due to high production costs. Such covers have long been prized by collectors not only for their relative rarity these days, but also for the sheer quality of the card used and the longevity that comes with it. Modern examples of these jackets usually sport an inflated price-tag, so it’s great to see We Jazz raising the standards of their packaging and presentation while also keeping the price point affordable. They’ve also sagely placed the barcode upon a hype sticker attached to the shrinkwrap, thus keeping the slick art direction fully uninterrupted. Excellent cover aside, there’s a printed paper inner sleeve boasting an extensive essay on one side and a shot of the group on the other. This is certainly the best-presented released we’ve yet seen from We Jazz and also one of the best we’ve reviewed in quite some time here on Vinyl Corner.
‘Persistence’ is a smoky, low-key listen ideal for the lengthening nights and shortening days of these late-autumn weeks. We Jazz have put an impressive case forward for vinyl being the ideal format to hear this album through, offering a release that provides both attractive, high-quality presentation and equally solid audio.
Enjoyed this feature? We’re always looking for further albums to highlight on Vinyl Corner – and if you have a vinyl release that you’d love to see written about here, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org – it would be great to hear from you!