Timo Lassy has cemented his position at the helm of the burgeoning Finnish jazz scene. His two solo albums and the inspired sax work in the ranks of the globe-trotting Five Corners Quintet have steadily been building his reputation and now it seems that the big time is here for Lassy courtesy of the upcoming album, ”In With Lassy”, on Milan’s Schema Records.
”In With Lassy” is a relaxed effort in the vein of the classic ”cooking session” tradition of modern jazz. That is, the band came in, took hold of the new tunes penned by Lassy and his trusty drummer/producer Teppo ”Teddy Rok” Mäkynen, and fired on all cylinders. The result? Some of the most swinging no-nonsense in your face and under your feet jazz you’ll likely to hear this year or during most of the others.
The Timo Lassy Band performing on the album is top-notch all the way. The wurlitzer duties are carried out by Georgios Kontrafouris, Greece’s gift to the Helsinki scene, who turns the instrument into one of a vital organ in the operation. On double bass, the most sought-after Finnish bassist at the moment, Antti Lötjönen, keeps things solid, and the crunchy beat so central to Lassy’s rhythmically remarkable jazz vision is safe with Teppo “Teddy Rok” Mäkynen on drums and Abdissa “Mamba” Assefa on percussion. Assefa was also part of the production team of the album, recording it at the quintet’s Helsinki rehearsal pad and producing the end results together with Mäkynen and Lassy.
Leading the pack, Timo Lassy is currently the most talked about Finnish jazz artist around. His scorching performances and witty media image have made the sax man the jazz cat to keep one’s eye on, and quite rightfully so. An innovative composer, arranger, and player looking back while moving forward, Lassy and his troupe appeal to purist audiences as well as to those outside the immediate jazz circles – a perspective in perfect harmony with his philosophy of bringing down boundaries too often still surrounding the music.
The lead-off tracks released as the first single in May, ”Teddy the Sweeper” and ”Where’s the Man?”, serve as a fitting introduction to the band’s current sound. The A-sider ”Teddy the Sweeper” swings hard, and introduces the band with a strong statement on both the compositional and improvisational fronts. The sonic narrative flows easily and builds up tension releasing it at precisely the right moments. On drums, the track’s namesake Teddy sweeps away with an irresistably light swing.
The concept of jazz performance has strong rhythmic roots when considering the Timo Lassy Band. Their sonic base is in the 1950’s/60’s hard bop, soul jazz and latin jazz tradition, but the masterful execution and the progressive vision of all of the group’s players places the music firmly on the 21st century. Their jazz is easily approachable, yet remarkably deep at a closer look.
It is precisely this openness to both tradition and innovation, and the knack at combining the two that makes Timo Lassy Band a top draw in the current live jazz circuit. As a character, Timo Lassy embodies the rare kind of charisma of a contemporary jazz star. The content, the message, and the means to convey the both ensure that anyone looking for 100% pure high-quality contemporary jazz will be right at home with the Timo Lassy Band.
No gimmicks needed here, this jazz is cooking.