Mikko Innanen 10+
Saxophone player, composer Mikko Innanen is one of the most active movers and shakers in the Finnish jazz scene.
Innanen is also the leader of this top-notch 12-piece ensemble. They debuted in 2012 and have since performed e.g. at Vossa Jazz and Moers Festival. Mikko Innanen 10+ play Innanen’s music, realizing his wildest musical visions by reaching to all the extremes of the tradition of jazz and still giving space for improvisation. They are light-hearted and dead serious at the same time – and the audience loves it. The impressive range and magnitude of this music is best experienced live, but the fresh EP of four tracks is a great introduction. The label behind the album is the new Helsinki-based Grotto Editions, putting out a series of jazz albums in cooperation with We Jazz.
Plastic Island is a new trio formed by Johanna Sulkunen on vocals, Aki Rissanen on keyboards and Joonas Leppänen on drums. The group’s music borders somewhere between improvisation, jazz and avant-garde pop and it’s filled with risk taking and raw energy. Plastic Island’s self-titled EP was released in November 2016 by Gateway Music.
After playing in numerous bands, including Eternal Erection and Lightboxer, Markus Holkko has released his debut album under the name Linear John. His debut album Hits with a Twist combines jazz and wayward pop with influences ranging from electronics to avant-garde.
Linear John’s debut album is released by German-based Agogo Records.
His solo career kicked off with his 2011 ACT debut “Lost Heroes”, which won the Jazz album of the year 2011 German Critic’s award. In June 2012 Rantala received the ECHO Jazz for Best International Pianist.
To date Rantala has released seven records on ACT Music, with the latest being How Long is Now? on which his new trio, comprising of Lars Danielsson (bass) and Peter Erskine (drums), constitutes a many-faceted summing-up of a happy and resoundingly creative phase of Rantala’s life.
“”A natural phenomenon on keys””
Aki Rissanen Trio
Pianist Aki Rissanen (b. 1980) has been quickly rising among the few top forces of the instrument in Finnish Jazz. He has released 7 albums under his own name and has recorded with such names as Dave Liebman, Rick Margitza, Tim Hagans and Verneri Pohjola. His latest album Amorandom (Edition Records) has been critically acclaimed all around the world and the pianist is gaining a growing reputation on the European scene. Aki leads the Aki Rissanen Trio with Antti Lötjönen on bass and Teppo Mäkynen on drums.
Jukka Perko Avara
Jukka Perko continues his relationship with ACT Music, which was established in 2015 with a collaboration album It Takes Two To Tango with pianist Iiro Rantala. With trio Avara, one of Finland’s leading saxophonists Perko collaborates with guitarists Teemu Viinikainen and Jarmo Saari, both major names on their own regard.
“With such a range of experience and depth of approach, it could be that these mellow but joyful instrumental pieces will appeal to fans of both Bacharach as well as Captain Beefheart.”
-Anthony Shaw, allaboutjazz.com
Experimental Finnish band Oddarrang make a genre-defying sound, influenced by jazz, classical, world music and postmodern rock. Oddarrang’s fascinating mix of musical moods, traditions and their unusual instrumentation (trombone, cello, guitar, acoustic bass and drums) are gaining them more fans at every performance. On Agartha, the band’s fourth studio album and their second for UK label Edition Records, the band blend monumental riffs and dynamic builds with heart-wrenching, anthemic melodies that soar over a compelling and absorbing rhythmical drive.
“Oddarrang doesn’t sound like any other band nor does it fit into any particular musical bag, but the music produced is extraordinary.”
-Roger Farbey, allaboutjazz.com
Espoo Big Band
Espoo Big Band (EBB) is one of Finland’s most prominent big jazz orchestras and especially known for performing new Finnish big band music. EBB has toured in Asia, Australia and Brazil, performed at several festivals such as Detroit, Montreaux and Paris and released ten albums.
Their album Lauma was released by EMI Blue Note Records. The album is full of original music from a Finnish rock fusion band called Husband. The music of Varre Vartiainen and Jarmo Saari has been arranged for EBB and Husband by Marzi Nyman, Jarmo Saari and Lenni-Kalle Taipale .
Kalle Kalima’s music is mean, moody, magnificent, and is also adventurous and full of surprises. With his other experiments he’s off exploring the badlands on the borders of rock, putting his hand on his heart to salute his Finnish homeland, and then inspiring jazz lawlessness in the band Kuu!
But here Kalle Kalima’s new project takes him back to one of his first loves. On High Noon Kalima takes a look at the themes of western films, as well as evergreens like Leonard Cohen’s ”Hallelujah” and The Shadows’ ”Man of Mystery” and Finnish popular tunes as well as ”Jaeger March” by Jean Sibelius.
Katu Kaiku (in English “Street Echo”) was founded when the three young musicians spontaneously got together in one of the streets of Helsinki. They discovered that it was worth trying out other kinds of music besides jazz standards. After the summer in Finland they continued their grooves indoors concentrating on making their own material and finding their free way of expression. The music of Katu Kaiku is influenced by bebop, free jazz, popular music, nature and human temperaments. They released their debut album Tokyo/Kuopio in March 2016.
Eero Koivistoinen & UMO
The saxophonist and composer Eero Koivistoinen, who turned 70 this winter, is going through an exceptionally creative phase in his career. Koivistoinen celebrated his birthday together with the jazz orchestra UMO (Uuden Musiikin Orkesteri, New Music Orchestra), which he took part in founding in the mid-seventies.
The orchestra played four concert hall dates with Koivistoinen at the helm both as conductor and solo saxophonist, and decided to join forces in the studio as well. Arctic Blues is a showcase of Koivistoinen’s talents as composer, arranger, saxophonist as well as conductor, conducting one of the most remarkable European big bands of today.
Mikko Pettinen & Happy People
Mikko Pettinen has become somewhat a household name in Finnish jazz and pop scene, as he’s collaborated with artists ranging from Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble, Paleface and Redrama over the years, as well as gaining international recognition with his group MP4.
Nothing Can Stop My Spirit is Pettinen’s second solo album, on which he continues his explorations to the worlds of funk, soul and jazz.
Utopianisti is a group from Tampere, Finland led by multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer Markus Pajakkala. After releasing two highly acclaimed studio albums, Pajakkala gathered a band of seven talented musicians to play the music live. The third album, The Third Frontier, was conceived with this line-up and released in May 2016.
Utopianisti’s music explores the realms of jazz and rock with a progressive, open-minded and sometimes avant-garde touch, similar to those of Frank Zappa and Pekka Pohjola.
Dalindèo is a sextet founded in 2003 and led by composer and guitarist Valtteri Pöyhönen. The group’s unique sound consists of danceable rhythms, strong melodies and an emphasis on the craftsmanship of top musicians, with influences drawn from composer giants such as Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin and Duke Ellington. Dalindèo’s fourth album Slavic Souls blends contemporary jazz with traditional Finnish Tango music and northern schlager, taking a somewhat darker turn then their previous works.
“I am absolutely loving what I’ve heard from Dalindéo”
Mikko Sarvanne Hip Company
Mikko Sarvanne Hip Company is an energetic jazz group consisting of 11 promising and prolific young musicians, who play compositions written by guitarist and composer Mikko Sarvanne. Jazz, noise rock and spoken word poetry clash amid the world of Hip Company. Although the group’s size is makes it nearly a big band, the Hip Company’s sound still has an intimate, yet rough and groovy element in it.
Helsinki based Elifantree delivers an experimental musical trip on the border between pop and improvised music. On their third full-length Movers and Shakers Elifantree have developed an increasingly danceable edge to their sound that only reveals the band’s jazz background upon close inspection.
”Emboldened by the improvisational spirit of rock-jazz, Elifantree are an utter headspin of a band, particularly that force-of-nature frontwoman – Anni Elif Egecioglu – who whoops and soars and occasionally does a little dance at the keyboards when she remembers.”
Joonas Haavisto Trio
Joonas Haavisto, one of the most talented Finnish jazz pianists of his generation, released his new album “oku” through Fredriksson Music in Finland in January 2016. Marking the third release for Haavisto, “oku” unites three stellar musicians from the Finnish scene. Haavisto on piano is joined by Antti Lötjönen on bass and Joonas Riippa on drums on a set which features 7 originals penned by Haavisto plus the lone standard “When I Fall in Love” by Victor Young.
“Oku” has received widespread acclaim hot on the heels of its release. The album was featured on the Apple Music “Jazz A-List” and the Japanese “Jazz Critique Magazine” called it a “masterpiece from the rising Nordic Star.”
Jorma Kalevi Louhivuori
Jorma Kalevi Louhivuori has toured around the world and performed with many jazz legends of today like Dave Liebman, Al Foster, Hugh Masekela, Bob Mintzer among others. He works in numerous different bands & productions and is the leader of The Northern Governors, Sun Trio and Kalevi Louhivuori Quintet. On Almost American Standards his concept is to flirt with famous American standards, which would, so far, be rather conventional. The eight tracks featured on the album were recorded with Ville Vannemaa on sax, Mikael Myrskog on piano, Eero Seppä on double bass and Jaska Lukkarinen on drums. The album is released by CAM Jazz.
Label: Cam Cine TV
An expansive sound from this young Finnish trio, led by Antti Hevosmaa on trumpet, Heikki Selamo on guitar and Erik Fräki on percussion. For a bassless trio, VIRTA create a huge soundscape; expressive, avant garde & eminently fresh with an occasional nod to fellow Nordic sonic experimenters Nils Petter Molvaer & Jaga Jazzist.
Formed in 2011, their playing is characterized by skillful musicianship and inventive use of electronic effects, with occasional atmospheric vocals from Antti. Virta have a reputation as a fierce live ensemble, with stand out performances at Pori Jazz in Finland and Match & Fuse Festival in Norway.
Composer and musician Jimi Tenor needs no introduction: after 30 years of career as an established artist, Tenor has redefined his style and sound over and over again and moved from 60s and 70s jazz, psychedelic soul and African funk to techno and experimental rock. On his new LP Saxcentric, which is released by Heracles Records, Tenor fine tunes his Afro-Jazz feelings. Tenor, who has had an active year with Tenors Of Kalma, (Joonas Riippa, Kalle Kalima, Jimi Tenor) is prepared to start the dance party for the jazz heads on his latest effort.
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