Jukka Perko + Iiro Rantala: It takes two to Tango

Anthony Shaw By

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Jukka Perko + Iiro Rantala: It takes two to Tango
This CD from two verging-on-veteran names on the Finnish jazz scene is a little disappointing in its energy, but not in its charm. Jukka Perko and Iiro Rantala have both earned their laurels years back, playing ear-bending, exhilarating jazz, the former with the likes of Dizzey Gillespie in his 1980s line-up and later McCoy Tyner, the latter with Gil Goldstein and then his piano led Trio Töykeät. And of course both have with nearly every Finnish musician of note on the current scene.

And in as much as tango is very much part of the Finnish music scene, this disc will appeal to those with anything like a handle on the conundrum that sees over 100,000 of this normally reserved, undemonstrable members of this race gather every summer in a modest rural town to celebrate the national passion for the tango (the Seinäjoki Tango Festival). Both men must have grown up in the knowledge that they too would surely be called to do duty in this genre, and now relish taking this opportunity.

Both have also been involved in projects of all types, from serious compositional duties to Rantala's quirky music shows and Perko's curatorship of the most picturesque of Nordic jazz festivals, held every August on the 18th century island fortress at the entrance to Helsinki harbor, Viapori jazz.

The result of their cooperation is a wry look at a number of classics as well as some genuinely local tunes redefined as tango classics. The album opens with just such a Finnish evergreen, the traditional Minun kultani on kaunis—My sweetheart is a beauty, barely recognizable now as a smoochy dance tune. Other composers include Jacob Gade, Charles Aznavour, and Eduard Kolmanovskyas well as the two players themselves, and the album ends with two versions of Jean Sibelius' Finlandia.

This album is the first exclusive collaboration by these two well-respected musicians, and represents a wealth of experience brought to bear on a genre that runs deep in each player. Rantala's contribution extends well beyond accompaniment to a joint attitude of respectful humor that keeps the album bouncing through evergreens and oddities alike. Tempos shift and solos are played with gentle twists and surprises that will keep any dancers on their toes, and most listeners with sardonic smiles on their lips.

Track Listing

My Sweetheart is Beautiful/Minun kultani kaunis on; Jealousy; Just Say I Love Her; For Mama; Therefore I'm sad; A Romance; A Blessing; I Will; Stella by Starlight; Love Is So Beautiful; Good Intentions; Finlandia [piano solo version; Finlandia [duo version].


Jukka Perko: saxophones; Iiro Rantala: piano

Album information

Title: It takes two to Tango | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: ACT Music

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