Lenni-Kalle Taipale

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A 19-year-old blond-haired Finnish classical prodigy turned jazz wunderkind when he made this session, Taipale and his Latin-tinged trio show a lot of promise and a lot of indebtedness to their Western Hemispheric role models here. Chick Corea is the most conspicuous influence -- which is small wonder since a Corea concert was the event that turned the teenaged Taipale away from a classical career toward jazz. You can hear the Corea stamp on the melodic lines of Taipale's compositions, as well as on the frequent veering away from the mainstream into Latin jazz patterns by his youthful Finnish rhythm section (Timo Tuppurainen, bass; Sami Jarvinen, drums). At this point, Taipale relies upon hammered monotonous chords in the left hand a bit much, but his right-hand technique is pretty good, and he can come up with some fine tunes on occasion ("Haapari"). As befitting a Finnish artist, Taipale also plays variations on simple Finnish popular and folk songs ("Peppi," "Taivas on Sininen Ja Valkoinen"), and is cheeky enough to get away with a bit of electric '70s disco with an African touch, and a Herbie Hancock-like bridge on "Namibia-Diapam." As the finale to the record, the trio turns in a murky electronic mood piece, "Invisible Beauty of My Flower," a hybrid of electronica and new age. The sound quality is a bit flat and metallic, but at Naxos' bargain price, Taipale and his friends are worth checking out.

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