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Iiro Rantala HEL Trio - Tough Stuff (Vinyl LP)

Iiro Rantala HEL Trio - Tough Stuff (Vinyl LP)

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Saturday 11 November 2006 was a particularly emotional evening. After almost 20 years together and thousands of concerts all over the world, the Finnish band Trio Töykeät, with pianist Iiro Rantala at the helm, gave their very last performance. But endings are also new beginnings, and even though it can’t have been easy to disband what was probably the most influential - and was certainly the most humorous - piano trio in Finnish jazz, the decision to bring Trio Töykeät to an end did give Rantala the op-portunity to try out a wide variety of different line-ups in both jazz and classical music, with occasional excursions into rock and pop.

But Rantala has never let go of the idea of playing in a trio again, and now, almost 20 years after the end of Trio Töykeät, the time has come for a new group, the Iiro Rantala HEL Trio. Rantala says: “I’m very happy that I was able to try so many different things out after Trio Töykeät. But just before the pandemic, I had a few gigs with bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Anton Eger, and ever since then I’ve been dreaming of finally having a regular trio again. However, Dan Berglund was far too busy, and so Anton Eger suggested the UK bassist Conor Chaplin, with whom he had already played for a long time in Marius Neset's band. It's always good when the working relationship between bassist and drummer is already established. The band worked perfectly from the outset, everyone had a lot of fun on and off stage. Anton and Conor are on the road a lot, so I’m very happy that this has worked out for us together.” 

The Iiro Rantala HEL Trio are capable of incredible contrasts, and therein lies the appeal. As a pianist, Rantala can take the breath away both with his lightness of touch and the grace of his melodic lines. At the same time, Anton Eger, with his irresistibly delicate playing fuelled by a wide variety of styles, and Conor Chaplin, with his weighty yet agile grooves on the bass, brings astonishing clarity and sense of form to the music. The HEL Trio should not be mistaken for a nostalgic back-to-the-roots project: “For me, music should always be going forwards,” says Rantala. 

Iiro Rantala’s restless, almost hyperactive approach, his urge to try things out and surprise his audience time and again, and his ability to play a wide variety of genres and styles authentically, while always sounding like himself, make him an exceptional figure among European pianists. Iiro Rantala’s musical journey has been full of twists and turns. Iiro Rantala HEL Trio's album, ‘Tough Stuff’, is another milestone on that journey. And an important one.

Tough Stuff
Tae Kwon Don’t
Second Date Waltz
Will You Be My Bop?
Stockholm Syndrome
Cabaret Perdu
Tee Four Three
Das Handtuch
Country And Eastern
A Lotta Love
Liberty City


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