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Iiro Rantala
Tough Stuff

VÖ: 31.05.2024

Genre: Good Time Jazz, Piano Jazz

CD

€18.00*

ACT 9988-2, 614427998828
Iiro Rantala's return to the classic jazz piano trio

Iiro Rantala / piano
Conor Chaplin / acoustic bass
Anton Eger / drums
Mathias Heise / harmonica (guest on Liberty City)


Saturday 11 November 2006 was a particularly emotional evening.
After almost 20 years together and thousands of concerts all over the world, the Finnish band Trio Töykeät with pianist Iiro Rantala at the helm gave their very last performance. But endings are also new beginnings, and even though it cannot have been easy to disband what was probably the most influential – and was certainly the most humorous – piano trio in Finnish jazz, the decision to bring Trio Töykeät to an end did give Rantala the op- portunity to try out a wide variety of different line-ups in both jazz and classical music, with occasional excursions into rock and pop. It was, notably, Rantala's ACT debut album Lost Heroes in 2011 which kickstarted his second international career. This was follo- wed by further solo and duo albums, spectacular piano summits with Michael Wollny and Leszek Możdżer, among others, as well as orchestral recordings with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker. More re-cently, Rantala has written a complete Christmas oratorio for the choir Cantores Minores and an opera Die Zaubermelodika for the Komische Oper in Berlin. He has also made several musical pro- grammes for Finnish television and delivers a fortnightly podcast in English, Algoyrtmi, about European jazz.

But Rantala has never let go of the idea of playing in a trio again, and now, almost 20 years after the end of Trio Töykeät, the time has come for a new group, the Iiro Rantala HEL Trio. Rantala says: "I'm very happy that I was able to try so many different things out after Trio Töykeät. But just before the pandemic, I had a few gigs with bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Anton Eger, and ever since then I've been dreaming of finally having a regular trio again. However, Dan Berglund was far too busy, and so Anton Eger suggested the UK bassist Conor Chaplin, with whom he had already played for a long time in Marius Neset's band. It's always good when the working relationship between bassist and drummer is already established. The band worked perfectly from the outset, everyone had a lot of fun on and off stage. Anton and Conor are on the road a lot, so I'm very happy that this has worked out for us together."

The Iiro Rantala HEL Trio is named after the code for Helsinki airport, from where Rantala's musical ventures tend to start. It sounds both new and familiar. And if there is a hint of nostalgia in the air, it is not coming from the bandleader: "Here's a little story," says Rantala."Anton Eger and Marius Neset, as children, had both heard Trio Töykeät at the Molde Festival. It was one of their first jazz concerts and they became real fans. When we started the HEL Trio, Anton, who knows an enormous amount of repertoire, really wanted to play the Töykeät pieces ‘Gadd A Tee’ and ‘Met By Chance’. My thought was that after nearly two de- cades, it was fine. We changed them a bit, one is now called ‘Tee Four Three’, the other ‘Cabaret Perdu’." ‘Liberty City’, a little- played but much-appreciated track by Jaco Pastorius, reflects Rantala's love of American funk and soul. The piece sits naturally alongside original compositions such as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, in which Rantala plays with the typical melancholy of Scandinavian jazz...but does it in a way – his way – which manages to be both tongue-in-cheek and deeply felt.

The Iiro Rantala HEL Trio is capable of incredible contrasts, and therein lies its appeal. As a pianist, Rantala can take the breath away both with his lightness of touch and the grace of his melodic lines. But then he can transform himself into other, very different characters: there is one who inspires laughter with his rummaging in the piano, another whose pathos, openness and honesty touch every heart. He has a baroque demeanour, his playing is full of relish, so that it only takes a few notes and he already has the audience on his side. At the same time, Anton Eger, with his irresistibly delicate playing fuelled by a wide variety of styles, and Conor Chaplin, with his weighty yet agile grooves on the bass, brings astonishing clarity and sense of form to the music. The HEL Trio should not be mistaken for a nostalgic back-to-the-roots project: "For me, music should always be going forwards," says Rantala. Iiro Rantala's restless, almost hyperactive approach, his urge to try things out and surprise his audience time and again, and his ability to play a wide variety of genres and styles authenti- cally while always sounding like himself make him an exceptional figure among European pianists. Iiro Rantala’s musical journey has been full of twists and turns. Iiro Rantala HEL Trio's album Tough Stuff is another milestone on that journey. And an important one.
Iiro Rantala
"Rich in variety, colorful, creative, chaotic: The HEL Trio is the perfect musical outfit for a hyperactive, virtuoso stage personality like Iiro Rantala.- Jazz thing". For nearly 20 years, he dominated jazz stages across Europe and beyond with the anarchic trio Töykeät. His subsequent ACT debut album, "Lost Heroes," marked a turning point in his music. While unrestrained exuberance had previously ruled, Rantala now seeks and finds strength in melody, harmony, and deep emotion. His mischievousness still shines through, along with his outstanding classical piano skills. Rantala manages a delicate balance in many ways. He's celebrated by critics, receiving accolades like the German Record Critics' Annual Award, the ECHO Jazz, the Finnish EMMA Award, and many more. Simultaneously, he's a favorite of audiences, performing at hundreds, if not thousands, of concerts. Whether in classical temples like the Berlin Philharmonie, Elbphilharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin, Philharmonie Köln, or in jazz clubs and festivals throughout Europe, he captivates audiences. Whether performing solo, as a trio, or with a full orchestra, Rantala traverses jazz, classical, pop, and Nordic songs. He combines sentiment and melancholy with a lot of wit and charm. In short, he's a master of modern, boundless piano playing.
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CD
€18.00*