6

Iiro Rantala: My History Of Jazz

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Iiro Rantala: My History Of Jazz It is perhaps an odd history of jazz that opens and closes with a composition by Johann Sebastian Bach, but My History Of Jazz is a very personal history, the history of Finnish pianist Iiro Rantala. His previous album, Lost Heroes (ACT Music, 2011), was a solo piano recording; full of mesmerizingly beautiful music, it was one of the year's finest releases. My History Of Jazz doesn't quite match the consistency of Lost Heroes, but its best moments are on par with those of its predecessor.

The Bach aria which bookends My History Of Jazz is brief and beautiful. Rantala, with sympathetic support from bassist Lars Danielsson and, on the closing track, drummer Morten Lund, captures the aria's lyricism and grace. The pianist's short "Goldberg Improvisations"-five in all, based on Bach's Goldberg Variation No. 1-each have a distinct character. On "Goldberg Improvisation I" Rantala and Danielsson chase each other through an inventive, rapid-fire 53 seconds. Improvisations II and V-the loveliest-stay closer to the original Variation, III has a skittish, jagged rhythm and IV rolls cheerfully along thanks to Lund's brushed drums.

Rantala's versions of a few jazz classics sparkle with invention. George Gershwin's "Liza" has a ragtime feel coupled with unexpected pace. "Caravan" gets a real makeover-violinist Adam Baldych takes Juan Tizol's classic by the scruff of its neck, his raw and expressive playing adding drama to the desert journey even if it loses a little of the tune's subtler moments. Pianist Thelonious Monk's "Eronel" is full of life and movement: Rantala's upper register playing is filled with a particular joy, Lund's drumming adds color and drive to the performance and Danielsson's solo keeps up the energy and feelgood vibe. For Kurt Weill's "September Song," Rantala adopts a stride piano style, the punchy, positive, left- hand patterns creating an optimism that contrasts starkly with the regret and sadness often invested in the song.

Rantala's own "Americans In Paris" is pretty and a little wistful, while "Bob Hardy" swings. "Smoothie," another of Rantala's own compositions, is immediately memorable. Taken at a relatively slow tempo, Lund's drumming has a laidback and relaxed feel, yet there is an energy and drive to the tune. Baldych gives his most empathic performance, playing a hypnotic pizzicato pattern to match Danielsson's bass rhythm and underpinning Rantala's own crystalline playing. A $10 bet on this becoming a future jazz standard could be money well spent.

My History Of Jazz tells one musician's musical story-"My entire history in music" as Rantala writes in the liner notes. There's no blues and no mainstream, because he's never been into those styles. There's Bach, because that's where Rantala's story began, like many pianists. Above all, there's an obvious affinity with jazz masters like Monk and Duke Ellington. The result is music of great technical skill and, even more importantly, of great emotional depth.


Track Listing: Aria / Goldberg Variation No. 1; Liza; Goldberg Improvisation I; Caravan; Eronel; Goldberg Improvisation II; Americans In Paris; Bob Hardy; Goldberg Improvisation III; September Song; Danny's Dream; Goldberg Improvisation IV; Smoothie; Goldberg Improvisation V; What Comes Up, Must Come Down; Uplift; Aria.

Personnel: Iiro Rantala: piano; Lars Danielsson: bass, cello; Morten Lund: drums; Adam Baldych: violin (4, 8, 11, 13).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: ACT Music


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Velcro Bird" CD/LP/Track Review Velcro Bird
by John Eyles
Published: September 19, 2016
Read "A Matter Of Instinct" CD/LP/Track Review A Matter Of Instinct
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 20, 2016
Read "Till They Lay Me Down" CD/LP/Track Review Till They Lay Me Down
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Holding The Stage: Road Shows, Vol. 4" CD/LP/Track Review Holding The Stage: Road Shows, Vol. 4
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 17, 2016
Read "Sunday Night At The Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review Sunday Night At The Vanguard
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 18, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 6, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!