Iiro Rantala – Mozart, Bernstein, Lennon


There’s not a better fucking example of a Classical/Jazz album than this (or a Jazz/Classical album if you want to be a twat). Iiro Rantala is a Finnish jazz pianist that has studied both jazz and classical piano extensively. And it’s his goal to tear down the divide between them. That’s kinda his shtick. So, when it comes to listening to one of his albums, that divide is thinner than a Eucharist wafer during the depression. And I, for one, am all for that shit. 

This album starts off with a song called “Pekka Pohiola”. And if you’re drawing a blank on that jazz fusion ’70s prog rock artist’s name, well good for fucking you. Your head must be filled with so many better things than names of musicians … sounds nice. If you’ve ever listened to DJ Shadow’s “Midnight in a Perfect World” from the famed ’96 instrumental Hip-Hop album Endtroducing….., that bad ass organ in the back there? Ya, that’s Peeka-fucking-Pohiola (That’s right, motherfuckers! We’re moving from Jazz, to Classical, right into the depths of fucking ’90s Hip-Hop.) The next song on this album is called “Freedom”. It’s inspired by the novel called, you guessed it, “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen. Now, if you haven’t read the giant fucking 600-page novel, don’t worry. I read that shit. It’s cool as fuck, but it doesn’t give a single piece of insight into the song itself. All I can throw in is there’s this angry fucking character Walter, that’s so-fucking-angry-he-needs-a-hospital kind of angry, and this dude wants to create an environmental preserve for some fucking songbird (yep, we’re onto literature now). Next up on this album is motherfucking Mozart. That big wig wearing swinging dick himself. The piece performed, in the pianist’s own words, “is on the soundtrack to the James bond Film’ The Spy Who Loved Me”. He goes on to say, “it’s the scene where they show you the underwater city—and it’s my absolute favourite Bond film.” It’s also classical fucking canon. Two seconds into “Andante” and you’ll be saying, “Oh ya! That shit. That shit’s fucking dope.” This dude also whips out some Bernstein (it’s in the fucking album name) and there’s a jazz version of Lennon’s “Imagine” to cap this shit off. But, if you back up a wee bit, there’s a song called “Tears for Esbjörn” which is about the famed jazz pianist named Esbjörn, from the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, who died back in ’08. It’s a beautiful fucking piece that pays mad respect to one of the greatest of the fucking greats. 

If you kinda dig classical, but can’t quite get into modern jazz, then try this shit out for size. It’s fun. It’s easy. You can cruise with it on in the back and melt like a piece of butter, or you can dig deeper and try to feel out the feely fucking feelies jazz plays with. A large part of what makes this album great is you can tell Iiro is having the time of his fucking life. And that shit is infectious. This album is smart, and, as you can tell, it makes mad fucking allusions to a bunch of other cool shit. It’s legit as shit.




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