The gritty soul jazz of the Timo Lassy Band and DJ-friendly post-bop stylings of his Five Corners Quintet scarcely hint at the directions which the Finnish saxophonist and fellow traveller Mäkynen take here. As he enters the highly exposed space of the saxophone and drums duo, comparisons to Coltrane and Ali seem inevitable. Yet while Lassy and Mäkynen certainly tap into something atavistic, a more fitting parallel is perhaps to the contemporary fusion of soul, jazz and dance-floor grooves of Binker & Moses.
Consisting of 13 miniatures which each clock in at around three minutes, the album is in some respects a sketchpad or mood board. Fallow plunges Lassy’s spare tenor into a sea of gongs, scraped cymbals and heavy mallets – as an opening invocation it definitely grabs the attention. Goldenrod is more of a foursquare post-bop burnout, while Liberty (Part I) propels the duo into a stormier spiritual jazz landscape. Catawba features tuned percussion and exotic gamelan timbres, Mäkynen’s sharp production capturing every last grain of sonic detail.
You might perhaps expect Resolution Blue to make more of a nod to Coltrane, but its broadly European mode of abstraction comes as a surprise. The scorching Liberty (Part II) picks up where Part I left off though, and Lassy’s tenor leaps to ever more febrile reaches.
Stylistically this set falls into two quite different halves, the second drawing on Mäkynen’s interest in electronica. The electro-acoustics of Aero mark a watershed, and certain parallels here to Parker and Prévost wouldn’t be entirely ridiculous. Kobi introduces a repetitive kick-drum beat, Lassy’s slow arcing lines seeming somehow a little incongruous. His fluid chromaticism quickly finds its stride on the hi-hat driven Telemagenta, while on Nyanza he performs solo and provides his own rhythmic counterpoint. Mäkynen takes his solo feature on Firebrick, producing a wonderfully busy wall of quasi-mechanical noise. Dark Cyan probes a jabbing and repetitive motif, while the gently spinning forms of Heliotrope close the set with a surprising nod to downtempo electronica.
It’s altogether a logical and somewhat courageous extension of both artists’ musical interests. Lassy & Mäkynen don’t set any new high-water marks, but they do offer some interesting new perspectives on a distinguished old format.
Fallow; Goldenrod; Liberty (Part I); Catawba; Resolution Blue; Liberty (Part II); Aero; Kobi; Telemagenta; Nyanza; Firebrick; Dark Cyan; Heliotrope (40.00)
Lassy (ts); Mäkynen (d). Helsinki, late 2018 to early 2019.
We Jazz Records WJCD14