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Olli Hirvonen: Displace (Ropeadope)

A review of the Finnish artist's second album

Olli Hirvonen, Displace
The cover of Displace by Ollie Hirvonen

Although jazz guitar players have been amplified since the days of Charlie Christian, for the most part they’ve been fairly cautious about how they used that amplification. Even after fusion found some players moving from Fender tweeds to Marshall stacks, the majority of jazz guitarists have chosen to keep their sound clean, not crunchy.

Finnish guitarist Olli Hirvonen would rather have it both ways. Best known for his work with Brian Krock’s groups Big Heart Machine and Liddle, Hirvonen happily embraces the electric guitar’s wide range of tonal possibilities, roaring when needed, purring when not, and producing a sweetly singing tone when that’s what suits the material. Having such a broad palette does, of course, make his playing a little less instantly recognizable than someone with a singular sound, but as his second album, Displace, demonstrates, the variety of tones at his disposal means that his guitar can serve a wider range of roles within the ensemble.

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J.D. Considine

J.D. Considine has been writing about jazz and other forms of music since 1977. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Musician, Spin, Vibe, Blender, Revolver, and Guitar World. He was music critic at the Baltimore Sun for 13 years, and jazz critic at the Globe and Mail for nine. He has lived in Toronto since 2001.