Saxophonist, composer and band leader Timo Lassy has been recording and performing as a solo artist since 2007. He has been described as one of the most luminous jazz artists of Finland, who is well-known also internationally as well as outside the traditional jazz audience. In his music paying respect to traditions Lassy has typically combined jazz, soul and Latin American influences but also cinematic soundscapes with emotion and sophisticated style. So when one thinks of elegance in the Finnish Jazz, Timo Lassy could be considered its torch carrier.
Until focusing on his solo career, Lassy was an important part of internationally successful lineups of The Five Corners Quintet and U-Street All Stars as well as the eclectic Teddy Rok Seven, led by drummer Teppo Mäkynen. Because of this he was able to perform all over the world already before going solo. He has also played in the lineups of Jimi Tenor’s band and Jukka Eskola Quintet as well as given his efforts on the recordings of famous Italian producer and deejay Nicole Conte.
The Finnish Jazz Federation rewarded Timo Lassy in 2020 with the Georgie Award (Yrjö) for “exceptionally strong enrichment on the jazz music field”. Besides numerous collaborations, he has released eight studio albums. Three of these have been selected as a candidate for the Album of the Year in the respected Emma Awards and the album Moves (2018) also nominated as the winner. Earlier Lassy had won the same category together with The Five Corners Quintet (Hot Corner, 2008) and Teddy Rok Seven as well as had been nominated twice as a candidate with U-Street All Stars (2004 and 2002) for it.
Through the years, Lassy has primarily been performing in Finland as well as all over the world, especially in Europe but also from Southern and Northern America to Asia, with his well-established Timo Lassy Band. It includes organist and pianist Georgios Kontrafouris (Eero Koivistoinen Music Society, Flying Jazz Trio), bassist Antti Lötjönen (Ricky-Tick Big Band, The Five Corners Quintet, Teddy’s West Coasters), drummer Teppo Mäkynen (The Five Corners Quintet, The Stance Brothers, Teddy’s West Coasters) and percussionist Abdissa Assefa (Giant Robot, Fat Beat Sound System, Auteur Jazz).
His fresh new line-up, which was responsible for the year 2021 album titled Trio, was formed together with bassist Ville Herrala (Jukka Eskola Orquesta Bossa, U-Street All Stars) and drummer Jaska Lukkarinen (Ricky-Tick Big Band, Dalindèo, Soul Captain Band). Furthermore, Lassy has also actively performed as an acoustic duo with drummer, producer and deejay Teppo Mäkynen in recent years. They have also released their material on albums and singles. Legendary British radio deejay Gilles Peterson named their self-titled effort as one of the best jazz albums of the year of 2019 in his Worldwide Awards.
In spite of his domestic popularity and fame, Lassy has been building his solo career with a strong international focus from the beginning. Thanks to this, he is well-known not only in Finland but abroad and you may hear his music often for example on the British radio shows of the scene. He has also collaborated with artists such as the American vocalists José James ja Joyce Elaine Yuille. In 2017, Lassy and the reputed Brazilian singer and pianist Ed Motta released an EP titled When the Devil’s Paid together.
Text: Joonas Kervinen / Funky Finland
Main photo: Maarit Kytöharju
2nd photo: Tero Ahonen