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På skive


«Songs For Solstice»

It’s worth checking up on pianist and composer Aki Rissanen’s interesting and emotionally rewarding music. This former acclaimed all-round musician has during recent years been concentrating on his own creative, often focusing on improvised based music. The 2016 release «Amorandom» with a traditional piano-bass-drums trio won Jazz Emma (the Finnish equivalent for Grammy) as the best jazz album of the year (see also Jan Granlie’s review, salt-peanuts.eu 15.2.2016).

The new album «Songs For Solstice» is the second one from a trio which features Belgian saxophonist Robin Verheyen with another Finn Markku Ounaskari on drums. Their first rcording, «Aleatoric» (2013, also on Eclipse Music) was still named by three musicians and the trio found its name from that.

«Songs For Solstice» is a recording from the trio’s three concerts they made during their Finnish tour in March 2015. Live concert recordings bring out and emphasize the improvisational nature of the music. There clearly are certain themes on which the members of the trio improvise freely, either individually or more or less collectively.

The overall touch is nuanced and intimate rather than some hard boiling forte fortissimo fierce free playing. Just like the album starts with Rissanen’s peaceful prepared piano solo. Surely there are many passages with a stronger intensity. Even on Rissanen’s «Riverly / Reflections» which is based on Scriabin’s Prelude op. 13 No 1. It starts and ends with easy going piano parts but changes rather wild stuff going on during Verheyen’s excellent tenor solo in the middle.

The same goes with «Deep Sea Diving», a riff based composition by Verheyen which brings out the  delicate brush work by Ounaskari in the beginning and then gets into a lot stronger spheres in the middle. On the other hand, that delicate brush work is far from Ounaskari’s colourful and intense solo piece which suddenly imperceptibly changes into a fierce soprano sax vs. drums battle.

Here we have three excellent and individual musicians making interesting and personally interpretive music together. Robin Verheyen shines both on his soprano and tenor. Markku Ounaskari is a big-eared drummer who listens carefully his fellow musicians and responds to their moves immediately. And last but not at all least, the trio’s primus motor Aki Rissanen, already many times widely acclaimed pianist and composer whose well-deserved reputation will definitely keep getting wider and wider year by year, album by album.

Timo Vähäsilta

Aki Rissanen (p, prep-p), Robin Verheyen (ts, ss), Markku Ounaskari (dr)

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