200

Iiro Rantala: Lost heroes

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
German record label ACT Music is rapidly cornering the market in stylish solo piano albums. With Finnish pianist Iiro Rantala's Lost Heroes, it adds another distinctive and glorious recording to its collection, alongside Gwilym Simcock's Good Days At Schloss Elmau (2011) and Danilo Rea's A Tribute To Fabrizio De André (2010), among others.

Rantala has been a jazz musician for many years, most famously with Trio Töykeät, a superbly skillful and inventive band which existed for almost 20 years until it split in 2006. He is also a popular presenter on Finnish TV. This is his first solo album and, like Rea's CD, Rantala's Lost Heroes is a tribute—in this case, to ten of Rantala's musical role models, from Jean Sibelius to Art Tatum and Esbjorn Svensson.

Eight of the tunes are Rantala originals. Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," dedicated to Tatum, and Toots Thielemans' "Bluesette," in tribute to Oscar Peterson, are also included. Every performance is a joy: stylish, creative, precise and imbued with warmth.

"Pekka Pohjola" is dedicated to Rantala's fellow Finn; musician and composer Pekka Pohjola, who died in late 2008. It's one of the disc's most graceful and lyrical tunes; Rantala's sadness almost palpable, particularly in the middle section, when his playing becomes more strident and powerful. "Tears for Esbjörn" is equally beautiful: played with economy and space its simple, delicate melody is achingly lovely.

Other tunes display Rantala's more playful side, a sense of humor that translates readily into musical ideas. "Can't Get Up" is dedicated to Jaco Pastorius and, as befits this legendary bassist, Rantala plays the entire tune on the bass keys, hammering out a powerful rhythm with both hands. His tribute to Erroll Garner, a player who "puts a smile in my face," is the angular, jagged, "Thinking of Misty," filled with melodic twists and turns as well as an insistent tick-tock rhythm. "Donna Lee" is another playful performance, Rantala's fingers skipping across the keys as he mixes stride and bebop phrasings.

It's difficult to praise Lost Heroes too highly. Rantala's international profile may not be as high as other jazz pianists, but he is a hugely talented artist, with a powerfully emotional approach to his playing and a good-natured sensibility that some better-known players could do well to emulate. Rantala's heroes may be lost, but they still resonate in the hearts and minds of many people. Lost Heroes is a superb tribute; a giant of an album.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987" CD/LP/Track Review Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987
by John Kelman
Published: August 29, 2016
Read "Allied Forces" CD/LP/Track Review Allied Forces
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "The Wrong Waltz" CD/LP/Track Review The Wrong Waltz
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 15, 2017
Read "Godspeed" CD/LP/Track Review Godspeed
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 9, 2016
Read "Manovuotometro" CD/LP/Track Review Manovuotometro
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Wet Paint" CD/LP/Track Review Wet Paint
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 15, 2016

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.