“Live Recordings 2019-2020” is the second release of tenor saxophonist Timo Lassy and drummer Teppo Mäkynen as a duo. The debut, aptly titled “Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen”, a studio-based release from 2019, was a critical success. Many of the tunes on that record are featured here, expanded for a live setting and recorded from performances in their native Finland.
Subtle vibrato tenor sax and brooding rumbling drums introduce “Fallow” and slowly evolve into a crystalline but moving intensity. The joyous groove in the opening percussive sax lines gets everything moving on “Zomp” and it becomes even more joyous when the explosive drums kick in.
“Liberty” begins with an extensive drum solo and the extended length allows a freer, looser feel, not apparent on either of the studio versions. It’s a change of pace and mood for the brief and deep-toned “Hypno”. The abstract experiments with extensive use of delay and loop effects on “Aero” create a compelling and emotional atmosphere.
“Kobi” is a showcase for Mäkynen’s dextrous drumming. His patterns establish the motif and the melody line, allowing space for Lassy’s unhurried and subtle solo. “Solution Black” builds on the off-kilter sax riff and its slightly demented swagger is great fun. The repetitive sax squeal and pounding beat in “Ecru” gives it an electronic dance feel despite being primarily acoustic. “Telemagenta” feels dancey too and benefits from the harder edge of being performed in a live setting. The closer, “Calling James” has an uptempo loose feel. It really swings and gets the punters clapping along.
As much as I enjoyed the studio album where there was a deliberate intention to keep track times short, I think these versions have benefited from being longer, allowing more room for them to breathe. Performing as a duo, there’s a fascinating and intelligent blurring of the traditional melodic and rhythmic roles of the instruments. There’s more space to fill, I guess. The album adeptly covers a variety of musical styles and delivers, whether carving an abstract soundscape or hitting a groove.