piano | Finland
„Intelligence, humor, lots of sentiment, unpredictable ideas and finest piano-craftmanship.“ (FAZ) – Finnish pianist Iiro Rantala simply is „a natural phenomenon on the keys.“ (Jazz thing). For almost twenty years he conquered the jazz stages of Europe and beyond with his anarchist „Trio Töykeät“. His following ACT-debut album „Lost Heroes“ marked a turning point in Rantala’s music: The wild, unchecked energy of earlier days made room for more melodic, harmonic and elaborate notes – although Rantala’s wit always shines through. And so do his outstanding, classically trained technical skills. In many ways Rantala succeeds in connecting elements that often seem contradictory: He’s a critically acclaimed artist and has, among others, received highly esteemed awards like the Annual German Record Critics‘ Award, the ECHO Jazz Award and the Finnish EMMA Award – and at the same times manages to wow broad audiences from many different directions. He regularly appears on major jazz festivals and clubs, but at the same time in world-famous classical music halls like the Berlin Philharmonic, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, The Berlin Konzerthaus or the Cologne Philharmonic – solo, as a leader of various trios – and also with full orchestra. His musical scope ranges from jazz over classical to pop and Scandinavian folk and song tradition. With lots of sentiment and melancholy but also with tons of wit and charm. In short: A true master of modern piano playing without borders.
Besides his extensive solo repertoire and a growing number of orchestral projects, the piano trio has been and still is a key format in the musical univers of Finnish pianist Iiro Rantala. With the anachic and wild „Trio Töykeät“, Rantala created big waves in the jazz world of Europe and far beyond in almost 20 years of the band’s history. After working closely with jazz greats like Peter Erskine, Wolfgang Haffner, Morten Lund, Lars Danielsson, Dan Berglund and many more, Rantala’s newest trio outing, a collaboration with Timo Hirvonen (b) and Jaska Lukkarinen (dr), is his first all-Finnish piano trio after Trio Töykeät. And once more, Rantala tells a broad story beginning with the roots of modern jazz and seldom heard standards by greats like Bud Powell, Keith Jarret, Kurt Weill, Thelonious Monk or Jaco Pastorius – paired with his own compositions fuelled by jazz, classical music, pop and Nordic song tradition.
Timo Hirvonen (double bass), Jaska Lukkarinen (drums), Iiro Rantala (piano)
„How does one know that it’s summer in Finnland? The rain is getting warmer!“ Pianist Iiro Rantala dedicates his third solo piano project on ACT to his home country Finnland – the mentality of its people, their melancholy, their humour and the unique Finnish spirit. He tells this story with twelve pieces, one for each month of the Finnish calendar. With virtuosity, verve and wit – and lots of anecdotes about the Finnish mind, told in Iiro Rantala’s unique mischievous fashion.
Iiro Rantala (piano)
The release of his solo album and ACT debut „Lost Heroes“ in 2011 marked nothing less than a turning point in the musical career of Finnish pianist Iiro Rantala. The hugely successful, critically acclaimed and award winning recording meant a transition from the energetic in-you-face style of earlier days to a more elaborate, melodic approach. In ten pieces, Rantala paid hommage to his late musical heroes. The 2015 follow-up „My Working Class Hero“ continues this concept, entirely focusing on another of Rantalas heroes: John Lennon. With his solo piano versions of the music of Lennon and The Beatles, Rantala succeeds in preserving the soul of these timeless, immortal songs while at the same time adding something totally new to them.
Iiro Rantala (piano)