24.9.1998 (Copenhagen Jazzhouse 23/9/98)
A Finnish phenomenon It is important to experience Finnish jazz live, as it is difficult to describe. Finnish jazz is peopled with originals, which was once more confirmed, when Trio Töykeät played for the first time in Denmark. They presented us with music which we had not been confronted with before. The drummer Rami Eskelinen and the bassist Eerik Siikassari were artistically more conventional, but the leader of the ensemble, the composer and pianist Iiro Rantala is a real phenomenon. His voluminous body suits his playing well, which to put it mildly is virtuoso. One must perhaps go all the way back to Franz Liszt to find the same kind of virtuosity. At least there is lots real romanticism in Rantala. But there was much else too. Elegant and original melodies, lots of imposing, insisting and fascinating repetitive figures, extreme improvisations and a good grain of melancholy and humor – yes humor. This was especially visible in “Unfinnish Tango” etc, to which Rantala introduced a very cryptic – very Finnish – story, and also in “Hömmpä-Humppa” based on a Finnish dance, which here and there lost the rhythm in a perfectly untransparanet manner. The trio finished with “Donna Lee”, and it was an impressive round of bebop with generosity, personality and good tricks. The music made the people happy and there were many of them. And when Finnish jazz gets popular, the word jazz crisis can disappear from the Danish language.
Kjeld Frandsen – Denmark