NYConnection is a quartet, formed by three top-notch Finnish jazz musicians and the internationally acknowledged Israeli pianist, Roy Assaf. On their new album, the group has combined traditional elements of jazz, such as harmonic patterns and catchy swing, with a melodicism borrowed from the sonic realm of folk music. As to the compositional method, the group has kept the tradition of jazz music constantly on the back of their mind, while taking a more narrative approach; namely by drawing from stories and songs. The group has been inspired especially by Griots, West-African singers, poets, and storytellers, famed for their skill of bringing old tales to life in the now. Thus it is no surprise that improvisation has a key role in these jazz Griots’ music and that the pieces are based on the group’s shared experiences and stories.
The new compositions leave plenty of room for each player’s improvisation and free interaction with the other band members. At times, this leads into exhilarating musical role play. Jussi Kannaste accompanies on his saxophone like a pianist, while pianist Assaf veers away from traditional comping, engaging instead in a melodic and rhythmic dialogue with drummer Jaska Lukkarinen. Antti Lötjönen’s bass provides the vital backbone. The band exploits fully all the instrumental combinations that a quartet line-up can offer, which makes the new album brim with bold and experimental expression in solo, duo, trio and quartet forms.