[ON STAGE]Nordic jazz sensual, sweepingThink about Finland and a few things come to mind. Xylitol gum and Nokia phones, for example. Classical music buffs might think of the renowned composer Jean Sibelius. But another Finnish export is gaining fame: Trio Toykeat, a premier jazz band whose name means "the rude ones" in Finnish.
The group - consisting of the pianist Iiro Rantala, the drummer Rami Eskelinen and the bassist Eerik Siikasaari - has performed its distinct brand of Nordic jazz at many festivals worldwide. The trio will perform at the Seoul Arts Center on Sunday before heading down to play the Tongyoung International Festival in South Gyeongsang province the following week.
Trio Toykeat takes some inspiration from Finnish musical traditions such as folk music, waltzes, polkas and tangos. And music fans readily identify the group with the Scandinavian country; in fact, the trio often performs at official state functions, such as a recent event hosted by Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and the Finnish Independence Day Party. But the band's music cannot be described as merely Finnish. Instead, it encompasses a broad range of styles. Listeners usually notice the classical influences inherent in the band's compositions.
"Kudos," the group's fourth album, recently hit stores in Korea. The album was structured so that each track is dedicated and pays homage to an artist that has inspired the band's music.
The first cut, "Etude," is dedicated to Mozart. "Pjut" honors the late comedian and pianist Victor Borge and "Ping" the singer Sting.
Trio Toykeat's music appeals to a wide range of audiences. It is simple, but in an irresistible way; at the same time it's sensual and technically sharp.
Listening to the Finnish band can be a stirring experience that can compel the soul to take flight, if you trust the opinion of the American jazz pianist Gil Goldstein.
"The piano performance by Iiro Rantala makes me think of the notion of metempsychosis," Goldstein once said. "It's almost impossible for me to explain in one lifetime the musical sentiment, technique and depth of this music."
The band will play most of the tracks from its most recent release, "Kudos," at the coming performances. Tickets for the Seoul show cost from 30,000 won ($23) to 50,000 won. For more information, call 02-2166-2700.
by Park Soo-mee