Sometimes jazz can be evocative, exciting, gentle, passionate, yet without the need for extras, inflated effects or forced concepts aimed at stunning listeners. XX (Twenty), the second album released on CAM JAZZ by Joona Toivanen and his trio (his first album was on Cam Jazz Presents), is a valuable gem so naturally conceived that its pure simplicity becomes an enchanting expressive device: that’s the very reason why it stuns. Simplicity is not merely “removing what is non-essential” or “avoiding extras”. To get an image-arousing power through music, one needs to know how to vaguely intimate. How to skillfully intimate sounds that are intrinsically able to ignite but not pigeonhole the listener’s imagination, thus giving the first push to fly away towards something of one’s own making, intangible or poignant, or joyful, or even sad, no matter. XX (Twenty) does precisely this. Ostinatos that float undaunted under the pressure of engaging melodies, as in Polaroid, or notes struck again and again to highlight other notes flying away, as in Grayscape I. Repeated harmonic sequences and chords that shatter into small moments of stillness and enchanting crescendos of strength, as in Grayscape II. Sites of self-exploration wrapped in melancholic moods and refined harmonies, as in Lament, alternate with sweet, dreamy strolls, as in Seconds Before, where the piano and double bass softly flirt with each other against a pastoral, even fairy-tale background. You may happen to step onto an imaginary train, as in Trails (could that steady, relentless rhythm on drums be a train?), that carries you on a journey or to a final destination or helps you escape, who knows…? Finally, you reach that quiet, magical closing track, Mt. Juliet, beautifully depicted by Joona Toivanen on piano, Tapani Toivanen on double bass and Olavi Louhivuori on drums.
Recorded in Cavalicco on 31 May, 1 - 2 June 2017 at Artesuono Recording Studio
Recording engineer Stefano Amerio
Photos by Elisa Caldana
Liner notes by Brian Morton