Ralf Dombrowski (DE)

Album der Woche / Album of the week / CD der Woche, Mittwoch, 23. Februar 2011

Blick zurück nach innen – Iiro Rantalas verlorene Helden

Es passiert ja selten, dass man sich hinsetzt und einer CD einfach zuhören muss. Iiro Rantalagelingt dieses Kunststück der Aufmerksamkeitsbündelung, denn der Finne schafft es,Unterhaltung und Bedeutung, Eigenheit und Esprit in seine Musik zu packen. Bislang bekanntals Kopf des clever klangkalauernden Trio Töykeät hat er sich nach dessen Auflösung 2006 einpaar Jahre mit verschiedenen Projekten orientiert und ist nun bei sich selbst angekommen.Sein vorläufiges Meisterstück heißt „Lost Heroes” (ACT 9504-2), präsentiert ihn mit sich alleinam Flügel und einem Kopf voller Erinnerungen, die er in Klänge fasst. Es sind Gedanken, dieihn mit Freunden und Vorbildern zusammenbringen, Menschen, die ihn im Laufe seiner Karrierebeeindruckt und geprägt haben. Pekka Pohjola zum Beispiel, E-Bassist, Komponist und Freak,der der finnischen Szene seit den Siebzigern den Jazzrock nahe gebracht hatte. Oder EsbjörnSvensson, der 2008 bei einem Tauchunfall gestorbene Visionär musikalischer Fokussierung.Vor ihnen und vor Stilgrößen wie Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bill Evans, ja sogar vor demNationalhelden Jean Sibelius verneigt sich Iiro Rantala mit pianistischer Eleganz undüberwiegend eigenen Kompositionen, ein Souverän des Anschlags, der Dynamikkontrolle,großer Bögen und kleiner Fluchten. „Lost Heroes” ist Musik mit der Kraft eines produktivTrauernden, der seine Gefühle in vielsagende, stellenweise humorvolle Geschichten packt. Einbeeindruckender Wurf!

Ralf Dombrowski February 23, 2011 (DE)

Jazzpodium (DE)

“Himself a hero: Rantala is already at the level of his heroes. … He is also a highly respected and regularly performing concert pianist and a perfect master of the traditional jazz piano. Rantala understands and creates his music from these different angles. In this he is unique”

Ludwig Jurgeit – “Jazzpodium” Feb’11

Stern (DE)

“Pianist iiro Rantala sheds musical “Tears for Esbjörn” on his album “Lost Heroes”. Completely unsentimental, entirely touching”.

Stern Magazine Germany

Post and Courier (US)

…Sometimes he’s a fervid, one-man cacophony of focused energy, sometimes he’s as mellow as transient clouds drifting across an azure sky. He can make a vast abyss seem homey, but it’s the quiet, intimate moments that seep into the deeper confines of the heart…

Greg Cwik, a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University


“Iiro Rantala – My History In Jazz The title on this recording isn’t coincidental. Iiro Rantala is expressing his own personal relationship with Jazz, and like any other relationship in life, it involves elements that don’t necessarily fall under the Jazz umbrella. That’s why classical compositions by Bach and pop standards like “September Song” are presented along with original pieces and renditions of songs like “Caravan.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE)

“The party is over” – that’s what Iiro Rantala must have had in mind, when he turned to the memory of the departed. Long enough did the Finnish pianist perform high level musical slapstick as the head of “Trio Töykeät”. After almost two decades the successful band...

Evening Post (NZ)

“…The Trio became a tight-knit formation of three bumblebees whose flight took them into stratospeheric realms where they whizzed over the firmament like shooting stars immune from burnout”…

Gilbert Haisman, Evening Post
Wellington, New Zealand

Jukka Hauru, HS (FI)

“Seldom, if ever has it happened that at an international jazz festival in Finland, a Finnish jazz group turned out to be the most outstanding of all performers”.

Jukka Hauru, Helsingin Sanomat, Helsinki, Finland

All About Jazz (US)

Rantala’s international profile may not be as high as other jazz pianists, but he is a hugely talented artist, with a powerfully emotional approach to his playing and a good-natured sensibility that some better-known players could do well to emulate. Rantala’s heroes may be lost, but they still resonate in the hearts and minds of many people. Lost Heroes is a superb tribute; a giant of an album.

Bruce Lindsay
February 24, 2011 at (US)

Lew Soloff (US)

“When I first heard the Trio Toykeat play I was totally bowled over…knocked out. I immediately recommended them for work…and also started hiring them… then they started hiring me! Iiro Rantala is one of the best musicians I have ever known. A RARE talent!”

Lew Soloff, trumpetist, New York

Gil Goldstein (US)

“Iiro Rantala is a pianistic sensation who makes the strongest case I know to believe in reincarnation because his pianistic technique and musical sensitivity speak of depths which appear impossible to have been achieved in this lifetime alone….”

Gil Goldstein, pianist and arranger, New York

Herald Sun (AUS)

“The most exciting performance of the festival was by Finnish ensemble Trio Toykeat….. Their music at Montsalvat was exhilarating and beautiful….The audience erupted into a frenzy after every solo….”

Jessica Nicholas, Herald Sun, Melbourne

Trouw (NL)

Trio Toykeat is the name of the Finnish ensemble, and on Thursday made its debut in the Amsterdam Bimhuis. As such it is of course not important that a Finnish group plays here. Actually a number of groups play here often from less obvious originating jazz countries. Much more important is that the Finnish Trio, despite a somewhat noisy and definitely unnecessary amplification, made an excellent impression.
Stronger still: Leader and composer Iiro Rantala exposed himself as a heavyweight of the same calibre as Brad Mehldaw. With the difference that Rantala does not choose for the standard repertoire but for his own compositions, which are unmistakingly European in character. Not to forget the manner in which Rantala applies his superior (classical) technique to play with melodies wiithout ever getting bored…

Kees Polling, ‘Trouw’ – Holland – 26/9/98

Berlingske Tidende (DK)

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…

Kjeld Frandsen – Denmark

The Dominion (NZ)

“A virtually unbroken torrent of in-your-face virtuosity, leavened with a delicious sense of humour and a daring eclecticism”..”Judging by this concert you can see why these three are gaining a reputation as one of the hottest properties in the jazz world today.”.

Tim Bridgewater, The Dominion, Wellington, New Zealand

Jazzrytmit (FI)

“Rantalan, Erskinen ja Danielssonin “How long is now?” on täydellisen elämänmyönteinen albumi”. HowLong


Grenzgänger mit Schalk und Werkstreue

„Finnahead“ statt „Jazzahead“ – dafür plädierte Starpianist Iiro Rantala, dessen Galakonzert am Freitag in der Glocke einen denkwürdigen Glanzpunkt des Festivals setzen sollte. Der Finne, der an der Sibelius-Universität in Helsinki Jazz und in New York Klassik studiert hat, vereint eben diese beiden Pole…

Ulla Heyne
Kreiszeitung, 1.5.2017, Bremen.

Weser Kurier 29. 4. 2017

“Ein verspieltes Genie zwischen Jazz und Klassik!”

Christian Emigholz
Weser Kurier 29. 4. 2017 Bremen.