Big Round Records
Pianist Jarmo Savolainen packs a wallop of melodic invention, rhythmic thrust, and improvisational gusto on his latest effort, True Image, a magnificent collection of mostly originals and three oddities that displays his deft technical facilities as well as his imaginative vision as a composer. Fronting a quartet and quintet that are propelled by drummer Billy Hart and anchored by bassist Ron McClure, Savolainen's gracefully fluid piano passages both underscore the music with colorful chromatic chords and an edgy percussive verve.
On the quintet sessions with trumpeter Tim Hagans and tenor saxophonist Karl Heinila, the music lends itself to infectious yet rhythmically challenging excursions that are both broad in compositional scope and sharply stuctured. On the title track as well as "Scene From Above" and "Down The Line," Savolainen's Latin-tinged compositions give much room for all the musicians to engage in delightful empathic conversations as well as passionate and adventurous flights. As for the quartet, saxophonist Dave Liebman provides Savolainen's compositions with a more reflective sensibility, especially on the stately ballad "Scenario," which finds Liebman mining the fields of Wayne Shorter rather than dipping into his usual bag of Coltrane-inspired nuances. The ballad also features Savolainen playing at his finest.