Joonas Haavisto Trio ‘Micro to Macro’ (Fredriksson Music) 4/5

Scandinavia has positively reinvigorated the piano trio format over the last ten to fifteen years with the EST phenomenon and various other luminaries, and to that list must be added a new formation from Finland that is most definitely carrying on that innovative tradition. Unlike other pianists in the region, however, there does not, on the surface at least, appear to be any obvious influence of Finnish folk music, though subconsciously that may well prove to be the case. In fact if any influences do emerge from this debut recording, then it might be a combination of Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau. Indeed it is the latter who springs to mind on the piece ‘Sothis’ on which Haaavisto really stretches out and constitutes the finest performance on the album. In general there is a quiet assurance and disarming simplicity about the recording that bodes well for the future. Joonas Haavisto is very ably assisted by a tight knit rhythm section comprising bassist Antti Lötjünen and drummer Joonas Riippa who make a major contribution to the collective effort and the trio are in scintillating from on the hustle-bustle of ‘Partying quirks’ with the repetitive piano rolls conveying the chaotic atmosphere quite beautifully. From the quietly brooding ‘Is there anybody?’ with its hint of menace in the cymbal-led intro to the austere ballad ‘Circling planets’ and the unusual rhythm pattern of ‘Light from behind the sun’ which recalls, perhaps, early Thelonius Monk, this debut set is a delight from start to finish. Tim Stenhouse

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