Emerging from the post Acid Jazz club scene like a latter day Gene Ammons or “Lockjaw” Davis, Timo Lassy’s hip Latin-tinged soul jazz was always a beautiful anachronism.
Recent work for Helsinki’s We Jazz collective has found him exploring new terrain – two recent duos with drummer Teppo Mäkynen bridged the gap between soulful free jazz and abstract electronica, and with Trio Lassy now releases perhaps his most ambitious recording to date.
Upscaling the slick arrangements of 2019’s award-winning Moves, the saxophonist unveils a powerful new trio with Ville Herrala and Jaska Lukkarinen, both leaders in their own right. Augmenting the trio is a full string section, assorted electronics from Lassy, Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen (Dalindèo) and Tuomo Prättälä (Ilmiliekki Quartet), and additional percussion from Timo Lassy Band stalwart Abdissa “Mamba” Assefa.
From the opening bars of Foreign Routes it’s clear that the production values will be big. Nyman’s pithy string arrangements set the mood, and as Lassy digs into a hard boogaloo groove any trepidations about the jazz “with strings” format soon evaporate. Herrala’s rhythmic bass solo on the bossa-flavoured Better Together is a delightful throwback, while his spare but tasteful note placement is the flexible backbone of the darkly mysterious Sointu.
Sunday 20 briefly casts Lassy into Gato Barbieri’s orbit, blazing multiphonics creating instant drama before the piece settles into a slow-burning modal waltz. Lukkarinen’s gongs add a sense of exotica to Subtropical, while his stinging groove is the perfect springboard for the Tranish Lassy on Pumping C. The moody dub inflections of closing track Orlo meanwhile exemplify Lassy’s subtle use of electronics, offering perhaps the most interesting musical backdrop of the set.
A major statement by a seemingly irrepressible force, Trio connects Lassy’s past and present with great conviction, sensitivity and style.
Foreign Routes; Better Together; Sointu; Sunday 20; Subtropical; Pumping C; Orlo (42.00)
Lassy (ts, elec); Ville Herrala (b); Jaska Lukkarinen (d). Tracks 1, 2, 4, 7 with strings arranged by Marzi Nyman and performed by Budapest Art Orchestra, conducted by Peter Pejtsik; Tuomo Prättälä (kyb, elec) on track 3; Valtteri Pöyhönen (kyb, elec) on track 7; Abdissa Assefa (pc) on track 5. Helsinki & Budapest, no dates, c. 21st century.
We Jazz Records WJCD36