The Finnish pairing of Timo Lassy
and Teppo Mäkynen
belongs to the kind of collaborations where one really doesn't know what to expect next, but that whatever it is, it's bound to be quite extraordinary. Both respected leaders in their own right and busy musicians in contexts that reach far beyond the boundaries of jazz, the two appear to be at their best when performing together. This collection of live material, recorded at We Jazz Festival, Porvoo Jazz Festival and G Livelab Helsinki in a time span from 2019 to 2020, proves that the duo's 2019 self-titled debut album was simultaneously the sequel to and the beginning of an exceptionally fruitful relationship.
It's fun to be able to talk about jazz even when discussing music that doesn't show signs of one swinging bar, a bebop line or even a single blue note. Not that this is an entirely new or recent phenomenon, but it seems especially significant when confronted with Lassy and Mäkynen. Their cooperations tend to transcend the limits of style and genre and take on a form of music based on the assessment of space and time within a conversational frame. In the process, whiffs of established styles, from hip hop to electronica and yes, the occasional hint of bebop and hard bop, make their way between the saxophonist and the drummer's lines. It's highly focused interplay from beginning to end, no matter the designation.
A drummer for Finnish A-listers like Verneri Pohjola
and Aki Rissanen
, Mäkynen's most notable outings of recent emerged almost exclusively in collaboration with Lassy. Their joint outfits include The Five Corners Quintet and Timo Lassy's Band, while his own electro acoustic project 3TM's genre-bending album Lake
made one contributor's 2019 All About Jazz Top 10 Year-end list
. Lassy is the experimental leader of the two, holding the torch of fusing soul jazz with electronic music since playing with the Fiver Corners Quintet back in 2003. The saxophonist's experiments have evolved and matured since and can be regarded as some of most forward-thinking music in jazz today. Over 15 years of performing together have left a respectable mark on the pair, resulting in a rare chemistry that leads from contemplative passages to explosive climaxes as if in auto pilot, but with the emotion and spontaneity that can only be mustered by human hands.
In accordance with all of the above, Live recordings 2019-2020
is packed to the brim with all of the influences Lassy and Mäkynen have been exposed to throughout their career. From hard grooves to atmospheric tapestries, ambient sequences to short bursts of hard bop and swing, electronic manipulations to patches of bone-dry duel saxophone and drums navigate through the bed they made not by lying in it, but by tussling, taunting, tossing and turning within its sheets. If "Fallow" is their version of spiritual jazz and "Zomp" can be regarded as the duo's vision for a funky break beat with hip-hop intent, then "Liberty" may as well represent their idea of Don Cherry
tuned to an Ornette Coleman
vamp that Charlie Haden
never played. Even in the quietest moments, such as "Hypno" and "Aero," the pair bristle with confidence and combine atoms to the point where they appear to spiral out of control and are ready to blow. Which is when Mäkynen draws on his rhythmic precision to bring organized balance back to the set, as demonstrated on the cooking drum exercise "Kobi."
Carefully selected and expertly sequenced, these live recordings enhance the experience of Lassy and Mäkynen's last studio effort with the bursting energy and uninhibited freedom they inhabit live. It's a colorful treasure trove filled with countless nuances to discover and rediscover again and again. Actually seeing the pair live is the only thing that would top this.
Fallow; Zomp; Liberty; Hypno; Aero; Kobi; Solution Black; Ecru; Telemagenta; Calling James.