IIRO RANTALA PIANIST & COMPOSER
Imagine a fluent jazz improvisor, a poetic composer, and a virtuosic classical pianist all wrapped into one, and you have Iiro Rantala, one of Finland's greatest contemporary musicians. Rantala recently embarked on a new solo career, releasing Lost Heroes in homage to some of his favorite musicians. The vastness of expression revealed in this music earned him the German equivalent of the Grammy, the Deutsch Phono-Akademie's ECHO award for pianist of the year. Rantala's performances range across a delightfully incredible repertoire, from improvisations on the Goldberg Variations to his own crystalline compositions.
“It's difficult to praise Lost Heroes too highly. Rantala's international profile may not be as high as other jazz pianists, but he is a hugely talented artist, with a powerfully emotional approach to his playing and a good-natured sensibility that some better-known players could do well to emulate. Rantala's heroes may be lost, but they still resonate in the hearts and minds of many people. Lost Heroes is a superb tribute; a giant of an album.”
BRUCE LINDSAY, ALL ABOUT JAZZ (REVIEW OF "LOST HEROES")
“... Rantala's solo work draws on classical music as much as jazz, and fizzes with glittering contrapuntal playing, jawdropping juxtapositions of fast basslines and right-hand cascades, tantalizing swappings of romantic rhapsodies and bluesy swing, and all kinds of other pianistic fireworks. His touch is flawless, particularly on silvery, caressing melodies such as his dedication to Pekka Pohjola, the slow, liquid expansion of his waltz to Evans or his meditation on Svensson. But it's the bass-note thunder of pattern-based pieces such as the stomping Pastorius tribute played entirely at the low end, the strutting dance of Thinking of Misty or the Tatumesque stride-piano account of the bebop classic Donna Lee that unleash all the pianist's upbeat power. It could be flashy, but it's lovingly done."
JOHN FORDHAM, THE GUARDIAN (UK) (REVIEW OF "LOST HEROES")
“Rantala isn't afraid to forego this affinity for bedlam. Sometimes he's a fervid, one-man cacophony of focused energy, sometimes he's as mellow as transient clouds drifting across an azure sky. He can make a vast abyss seem homey, but it's the quiet, intimate moments that seep into the deeper confines of the heart.”
GREG CWIK, POST AND COURIER (CHARLESTON, SC)
"Himself a hero: Rantala is already at the level of his heroes. He is also a highly respected and regularly performing concert pianist and a perfect master of the traditional jazz piano. Rantala understands and creates his music from these different angles. In this he is unique."
LUDWIG JURGEIT, JAZZ PODIUM (GERMANY) (REVIEW OF "LOST HEROES")
"TEARS FOR ESBJÖRN"
INTERVIEW AT MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL, 2013