It’s difficult to pitch an album such as this. It’s an accumulation of lots of parts, when you consider the album is essentially a live recording of a jazz band being supported by a big band (Ricky-Tick Big Band Brass), oh and the main pull is a sax player from Finland, you’ll be forgiven for thinking this album will only attract a small, niche market. But bringing those parts together only succeeds in building something rather extraordinary, and certainly something that should be heard by a larger number.
Recorded live in Helsinki’s Savoy Theatre, the music shifts and twists from Las Vegas 60’s swing to 70’s New York cop drama soundtrack. You can hear influences such as Herbie Hancock’s early 60’s output, the muted trumpet harking back to Miles Davis, African beats sitting alongside latin flavours and the big band sound of the 1950’s Rat Pack cool and swagger. There is an impressive bass intro (track five) by Antti Lotjonen that sits midway, acting as an interval piece before finding the groove to ‘African Rumble’. The clever rhythmic work of drummer Teppo Makynen keeps things ticking along nicely. The jazz drummer has more to do than most drummers in music, he needs to keep tempo (which can often mean encouraging those around him but also pulling them back when energy and adrenaline takes hold), add interest and react to whatever alchemy is being created by the lead players. Hearing it live makes everything more impressive.
Jazz was always meant for the live setting, it’s a music that lives and dies by it’s on-the-spot decisions, obviously the inclusion of a big band means the music has a more solid foundation but here is proof that when two styles of music collide (big band music is generally read from sheets, what is written is what is played, whereas jazz music is written in chalk rather than carved in stone, meaning it’s changeable) something great can be achieved.
How this band isn’t known more widely is surprising, generally the good musicians are found pretty quickly, the international jazz network is vast with a jazz festival being held in most major cities around the world so expect Timo Lassy to be appearing in festivals further afield than he currently does.
If you like jazz, give this a listen. If you like big band but with a lot more groove than the brass band from the local coal mine, give it a listen. If you want to experience music from good musicians, well, you know what I’m going to say next….