Finnish pianist Rantala seems to have more breadth than most in the field of contemporary music. His last album, My History of Jazz, a homage to the music that influenced him, could not be more different to the work on his latest release for ACT. Rantala wrote it for a classical form piano trio, and for the musicians that accompany him specifically. It represents a true fusion of classical and jazz styles where neither has the upper hand; this thanks to the composer’s skills and those of Polish violinist Adam Baldych and Austrian cellist Asja Valcic. These three play almost as one on many of the 11 pieces here. In fact, on the most appealing tunes they are literally playing in harmony.
Anyone With A Heart starts out in joyful, spirited fashion with a warm, vibrant sound that slowly evolves into something more serious as the album progresses, reaching its apotheosis with the dynamic and powerful ‘Hard Score’. Here Baldych gets to show off his rich chops against a rapacious backing. Rantala’s pieces scale the gamut of human emotions without becoming maudlin or sentimental, and do so without resort to conventional forms. This truly has a lot of heart and warmth, it sounds pretty good too.