Lenni-Kalle Taipale Trio: Nothing To Hide
Finnishing School. The photo of the Lenni-Kalle Taipale Trio contained in the liner notes of Nothing to Hide betrays the spirit of the music on this disc. That spirit is confident exuberance. The picture shows the youthful trio that is made up of Bassist Timo Tuppurainen, Drummer Sami Järvinen, and pianist Lenni-Kalle Taipale. Tuppurainen stands most in the background with a boyish grin that shows a determined playfulness that emerges in his electric and acoustic bass playing. Next in line is Järvinen, with hair flowing well past his shoulders and a confident expression of "So, you think you have something new to tell me...". Finally, in the pictures forefront is the leader, Lenni-Kalle Taipale. The most Nordic of the three, Taipale's blond hair is combed back as if by his hand, revealing a high forehead, penetrating eyes and a smile that says he is arrived and will let his considerable talent do the talking.
Whoa Doggies!. Naxos Jazz continues to mine the seemingly infinite vein of Scandinavian Jazz. The Lenni-Kalle Taipale trio is just the latest in a line of Northern European Jazz releases that includes Umo Jazz Orchestra (Naxos Jazz 86010-2), Lars Møller’s Kaleidoscope (Naxos Jazz 86022-2). Tolvan Big Band (Naxos Jazz 86025). These musicians are just the tip of the ice berg of a very distinct Scandinavian tradition in jazz.
A Solid Beat. The music on this recording is a wild amalgam of jazz, rock, popular, and new age music. The melodies are simple and memorable (i.e., hook-filled). The majority of the disc finds Taipale playing in a very appealing percussive style and Tuppurainen thumping the electric bass (though “Hääpari [Wedding Party]” finds Taipale displaying a sensitive single note style with Tuppurainen playing the double bass both pizzicato and arco). The songs are all structured around a central simple melody is elaborated on conservatively, making this disc very listenable.
The opening title tune displays from the beginning the trio’s tight cooperation over the music. Taipale plays a fast figure that smoothes out into a block chord groove sliding just above Tuppurainen’s hypnotically hiccuping bass. There is a Latinesque/Islands feel to several of the compositions (“First Peace”, “Sami-Imas”, “Peppi”, “Like I Care”). Taipale’s performance and composition style is characterized by a very percussive block chord approach. Not block chords in a Red Garland vein, but a thoroughly contemporary sound.
For his part, Timo Tuppurainen turns in some finely melodic accompaniment (the panting funk and fluid transitions on “Namibia-Diapam” and “Sami-Imas”) and soloing (“Fading Storm”). Taipale provides his skin-master Järvinen his moment to shine with an extended solo on “Sami-Imas”. Taipale (and Tuppurainen) this with very simple, percussive comping behind Järvinen.
Conclusions and Opinions. I have made it a point to review every Naxos Jazz release. I have found them all to be of very high quality, particularly where the sound and engineering are concerned. To be sure not all of the music has been my cup of tea. But to equally be sure, all of the music has been provocative and interesting. Nothing to Hide is in the top five of the most fully entertaining releases of Naxos Jazz. The brilliant compositional simplicity coupled with a keen ear for toe-tapping, hummable melody provides for one of the most satisfying sets yet from the most exciting jazz label waxing today.
Track Listing: Nothing To Hide, First Peace; Sami-Imas, H