Pianist and jazz doctor Riitta Paakki makes music that relies heavily on traditional jazz, albeit coloured and spiced up with a modern idiom. All of the tracks on the album Piste were written by her. The romantic mood is just right: the overall impression is subtle and ballad-like.
The album begins powerfully. The opening track, Rebecca, is a lovely piece where Paakki introduces her band. She leads her quartet sensitively and stylishly, giving each member plenty of space for solo performances. Pilot is also atmospheric, lovely and well balanced, a ballad with a clear and memorable melody. This is followed by Caruso, another sensitive number, now featuring Manuel Dunkel and his lucid sax sound. Dunkel also gets plenty of exposure in the energetic Garag and in the moody 359.
The glue that holds the ensemble together is provided by drummer Joonas Riippa – dextrous, precise and always creative – and bass player Antti Lötjönen – in full control of the expanse and broad palette of his instrument.
Riitta Paakki and her band never show off. They work together admirably well, delivering a delightful musical experience. The album is crowned by its title track, the lucid Piste [dot], which, true to its title, dots the i.
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
Riitta Paakki Quartet: Piste
Riitta Paakki – piano
Manuel Dunkel – tenor saxophone
Antti Lötjönen – bass
Joonas Riippa – drums
Flame Jazz Records, 2020