“Mikkonen proved an even more astute pianist, tremendously interpretive while, at the same time, focused intently on his band mates. Beginning the set with a combination of inside-the- box strumming and outside-the-box voicings, his sense of dynamics was fundamental to the trio’s success, as was Ounaskari’s similarly astute ear.
…..If Kuára is one of this year’s most stunning surprises, then the performance by Mikkonen, Ounaskari and Jørgensen will surely go down as one of the highlights of Tampere Jazz Happening 2010, and a clear signal that this is a trio that absolutely needs to continue working together.”

John Kelman/All About Jazz, USA 11/2010

“Markku Ounaskari och pianisten Samuli Mikkonen utgår ifrån gamla ryska psalmer och folksånger från finskrelaterade ugriska kulturer som den karelska och den udmurtiska. Inkännande och kontemplativt väver de samman melodier och improvisationer, så att musiken också binds till nuet och till rummet där musikerna och lyssnaren vistas tillsammans. Själva vetskapen om vad de spelar påverkar mig säkert, men det måste också vara någonting inne i själva musiken som bidrar till känslan av ett mänskligt djup.”

Johannes Cornell/Dagens Nyheter, Sweden 11/2010

“Loin des béatitudes engourdissantes, l’extreme retenue qui entoure ces psaumes et ces chansons populaires est habitée d’une sauvagerie sourde, d’une freveur vive et inquiéte qu’explorent la profondeur anguleuse et tendue du piano, les percussions froissées, grondantes ou tintinnabulantes.”

Franck Bergerot/Jazzmag, France 2/2011

“The groupʼs acoustic focus is a refreshing shadow in the light of popular electronic augmentations: three generations of musicians coalescing into one poignant sound, a new direction drawn from ruins. …….Jazz has always been a music of diaspora and self-preservation. Hence, its passage to the Baltic states, where it has fused into the current project. In this respect, Kuára is the genre at its most contemplative. It is an album as poignant as it is enigmatic, an intimately realized mosaic rendered with due ceremony. For a project grounded in displacement, it comes across as markedly apolitical, a soothing burst of cool air in an otherwise heated world. These are not the “imaginary communities” of postmodernism, but the familiar and the stable topographies of private continents. A recording like this is a sobering reminder that, at some level at least, all music is fusion—be it of the intention of the performer with the location in which she/he is situated; of the blending of disparate styles; or simply of the indeterminacies that any place inculcates upon the music or performance at hand. Despite the arbitrary divisions we human beings impose upon each other and our works in the name of misguided notions of superiority, imperial expansion, and economic ascendancy, we can be sure the music that animates them will always follow less prescriptive paths. To merge onto one of them, we need only slip this disc into our player of choice.”

Tyran Grillo/Rootsworld 2010

“Piano, trompette, voix et percussions sont associés à leurs noms aux consonances nordiques. Les racines de leurs improvisations sont à chercher dans le flou de la frontière séparant la Finlande de la Russie, là où des peuples ont cherché à se consoler de lʼexil par la musique. Lʼenvie de plonger dans la profondeur des thèmes se mêle à la tentation de rester dans lʼévocation….”

Bl, La Liberté

“This album explores the music of the Karelian, Vepsian and Udmurtain – simply constructed melancholic melodies that lies at the heart of the Finnish culture. Russian psalm were added, so mixing music that has its roots in pagan times with Orthodox music from the east. The result is a captivating album where each musician has the time and space to be his own storyteller, drawing you into the heart of this mysterious, brooding music that is also somehow redemptive.”

Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise

“Ci muoviamo lungo un viaggio nella musica popolare che si mantiene elegiaco e solenne attraversando temi più meditativi come pure canti di grande potenza espressiva; tutto è suonato con grande cura estetica ma con la capacità, rara ad integrarsi con la dote precedente, di restituire nellʼesecuzione presenza e corpo e lasciare quindi intatta la suggestività.”

Pier Luigi Zanzi, Suono

“Kuára bedeutet in einem Dialekt aus dem finnisch-russischen Grenzgebiet „Sounds“, Klänge also. Und obwohl die 14 Duo- und Trio-Stücke dieses herbstlich-dunklen Albums sich allesamt durch ebenso schlichte wie schöne Melodien teils religiösen, teils folkloristischen Ursprungs auszeichnen, trifft der Titel doch ins Schwarze. Das Besondere dieser wunderbaren Rückbesinnung auf säkulare und religiöse Traditionen eines beinahe vergessenen Randgebietes in Europa sind die Pausen, sie erst machen aus den Melodien „Sounds“”

Heribert Ickerott, Jazzpodium

“Un viaggio tra melodie senza tempo, provenienti dalla tradizione folklorica ugro-finnica e dal patrimonio religioso russo, tra culture permeate da un profondo so di spiritualità, tra suoni evocativi che secucono lʼascoltatore passo dopo passo. […] Un trio che mostra spiccata personalità di approccio ai materiali originali, facendoli propri senza snaturarne lʼessenza ed esaltandone lʼaaffiato poetico.”

R.V., Strumenti Musicali

“The melancholy, otherwordly music that results is both starkly simple and profound, in which the silences are as significant as the textures created by the lucid duo and trio dialogues. Behind the simplicity, however, is an immense sense of openness, which is giben notable coherence by the extraordinary rapport and focus of the joint improvisations of Ounaskari and Mikkonen in particular.”

Ray Comiskey, Irish Times

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