Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Monday's 10: top new jazz today

Click to listen on the Spotify icon and at the top of this page for the latest playlist Yesterday's 10:

Published: 3 Jun 2024. Updated: 47 days.

Click to listen on the Spotify icon and at the top of this page for the latest playlist

Yesterday's 10:

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Euroalbum of the week: Iiro Rantala, Tough Stuff, ACT ****

First sighting of Finnish piano star Iiro Rantala's new trio featuring UK and Ireland scene jazz bassist Conor Chapin and the Phronesis Oslo-born drum star Anton Eger. The moving 'Stockholm Syndrome' stands out. We enjoyed this more than last …

Published: 2 Jun 2024. Updated: 41 days.

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First sighting of Finnish piano star Iiro Rantala's new trio featuring UK and Ireland scene jazz bassist Conor Chapin and the Phronesis Oslo-born drum star Anton Eger. The moving 'Stockholm Syndrome' stands out.

We enjoyed this more than last year's more expansive Rantala ruminations heard on Veneziana. Each of these three players we rate highly in different ways and their chemistry together is clear - Rantala heard live by marlbank approaching a decade ago in a Sligo art gallery has a certain wit and spectacular dexterity at the keys. And on recordings he reliably proves himself over and over again as a true virtuoso with plenty to say who is easily in terms of technique alone one of Europe's top jazz pianists. Here with Conor Chaplin increasingly a gun for hire with a lot of leaders including Tom Ollendorff we heard him to effect in a wildly different context playing in singer Tessa Souter's band with the great Billy Drummond on the kit 18 months ago at the Pheasantry. While going further back it was with Phronesis that drummer Anton Eger made his name, Jasper Høiby's extraordinary trio completed by formidable pianist Ivo Neame that stopped so abruptly four years ago. ''Stuff'' as a word isn't in short supply as a title for Rantala given he used the noun prefaced by ''Good'' as part of the title of a duo album with Swedish guitar icon Ulf Wakenius on a 2017 release. But why ''tough'' in this regard? No idea!

Here with what he calls ''the HEL trio'' - HEL as in Helsinki airport - he's obviously not pining for the fjords. Rantala also calls on some Trio Töykeät material for a few ingeniously conceived updates and factors in a cover of Jaco Pastorius piece 'Liberty City' along the way featuring a harmonica spot by Danish jazzer Mathias Heise.

What's here isn't tough to listen to like some elaborately conceived freeform avant-garde extravaganzas although the tunes sound just as complex and take many twists and turns rhythmically. More a consolidation of what the former Trio Töykeät player - who has been making records for German label ACT since Lost Heroes in 2011 - has built up to stock his own considerable capacious arsenal of sounds. Cork-born Chaplin and Eger worked together in Norwegian saxist Marius Neset's band and certainly are in lock step.

The gospelly puntastic Trio Töykeät number 'Gadd a Tee?' becomes the succinct canter of a thing that is the exuberant 'Tee Four Three' going that bit deeper as Eger bumps along coming over all cajón-like for a few bars so effectively.

As dazzling as ever, Rantala, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz styles, could conjure just about any style he wants to - he even goes Keith Jarrett-like in the splendidly titled 'Country and Eastern'. But ultimately and certainly a huge plus factor Rantala does not forget how to have fun along the way. Final thought - who knows if this HEL trio are here to stay. Regardless let's hope, hell, yeah, that they make lots of records as spirited and satisfying as this. Iiro Rantala, photo: Bandcamp