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Jarmo Savolainen: Soloduotrio

It turns out that all those critics and academics searching for a “third stream” back in the ’60s were simply ahead of their time. The real cross-fertilization of jazz and classical music is happening now, in the work of European jazz players for whom classical music is a native language.

Pianist-composer Jarmo Savolainen of Finland, now 44, had eight years of classical piano studies before he was 19 and has worked with the Finnish National Opera Orchestra. But for 20 years he has been a jazz musician first, and Soloduotrio places him with northern Europe’s finest pianists, like Bobo Stenson, Marcin Wasilewski and Tord Gustavsen. The elegant clarity of Savolainen’s ideas, and his touch, sensitive yet firmly declarative, are a single creative process.

Savolainen compositions like “Do I Care” and “Somebody Knows” feel classical in their proportional formality, but his interpretations of his own works are spontaneous and freely exploratory. Some pieces are minimalist but not simple. “Starbright” is chiming treble single notes like the pinpoints of stars in a night sky. “Evening Song” is a pristine, lyrical evocation of a mood and a time of day.

Sonny Heinila and Maria Ylipaa do not interrupt Savolainen’s rapt pianistic unfoldings. They fit like his woodwind and voice alter egos.

Originally Published