Album review

Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen – ‘Live Recordings 2019-2020’

Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen – Live Recordings 2019-2020
(We Jazz Records WJCD32. Album Review by Adam Sieff)

Two’s company, especially when it comes to saxophonists and drummers. Just listen to Binker Golding and Moses Boyd or James Brandon Lewis and Chad Taylor. Add to the list Timo Lassy and Teppo Mäkynen, who release their second duo album, this time featuring stretched out live versions of many of the tracks first recorded on their eponymous debut two years ago which was among the contenders for Worldwide FM’s Jazz Album of the Year.

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T&T know each other well, they were key members of The Five Corners Quartet, one of the small but fertile Finnish jazz scene’s most exciting bands, and they continue to play together in Lassy’s excellent quintet line-up. While Lassy has become Finland’s most celebrated jazz saxophonist, and is the better known of the two internationally, Mäkynen is also an artist, producer and broadcaster (his two Teddy’s West Coasters albums are sensational), and plays drums with the Aki Rissanen Trio and the Jukka Eskola Soul Trio, whose Railyard Boogie from a 2016 10” release is an absolute killer. Both Lassy and Mäkynen are Jazz-Emma winners (Finnish Grammys) and Lassy is the most recent winner of Finland’s prestigious Yrjö Jazz Prize.

The ten tracks on Live Recordings 2019-2020 were recorded at the We Jazz and Porvoo Jazz Festivals and the G Livelab Helsinki. The results were mixed and edited by Mäkynen then mastered by Pauli Saastamoinen. The CD sound is excellent and is packaged in a smooth gatefold digisleeve, designed by label founder and Artistic Director Matti Nives whose contribution to promoting Finnish Jazz is immense.

As much as I appreciated the studio set, this live album works much better all round. Maybe it’s due to performing in front of a live audience or having the time to stretch out and take the music where it leads. I enjoyed all the great playing here and there’s a plenty of variety; the straight ahead feel of Liberty, the ambient atmospherics of Aero, the exotic rhythmic Kobi and the quirky Solution Black. The one minute long section of Ecru sets up the sensational high speed chase of Telemagenta that just about manages to keep its lid on. The funky Zomp, (not on the first album but released as a 7” 45rpm), is wonderful and delivers what the single could only hint at with its deep groove and inventive and emotive soloing. Another 7” release that gets the full length treatment is the album-closing hot-riffing Calling James (see YouTube below) now just a little faster and even more in the pocket.

As Marvin and Kim said way back in 1965, ‘It takes two, (Baby!)’. Here Timo Lassy and Teppo Mäkynen provide us with yet more proof that less can be so much more.

Release date: 26 March 2021 (Vinyl ships 16 April)

Link: We Jazz Bandcamp

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