Jazz och vårkänslor på April Jazz Festival



April Jazz, som hålls i Espoo utanför Heslningfors, har etablerat sig som en av Finlands stora jazzfestivaler. OJ:s korrespondent i Finland, Esa Paavolainen, rapporterar:

The largest jazz festival in Finland (after Pori Jazz) “April Jazz Festival” was arranged this year during 22-27 April for the 28th time at Tapiola in Espoo near Helsinki – which was a signal that spring once again has arrived with joy. The April Jazz Festival’s program featured a wide spectrum of Finnish and international jazz and rhythm music stars. Like in the previous years, this festival was hosted again by the Espoo Big Band and their partners.

 April Jazz Festival offered this year 23 concerts including jazz clinics and club evenings by local jazz club organizers as well as jazz happenings for children.

Cassandra Wilson opened the 28th April Jazz Festival


Photo: April Jazz  

Cassandra Wilson & band featuring Cassandra Wilson, lead vocals, John Davis, drums, Jon Cowherd, piano, Lonnie Plaxico, bass, Brandon Ross, guitar, Gregoire Maret, harmonica

One of the world’s most prominent jazz vocalists returned to Finland after 23 years! Wilson’s concert opened the 28th April Jazz Festival at Finlandia Hall. Cassandra Wilson is an American singer, songwriter, producer and arranger, whose album production is extensive and versitile. She has gained two Grammy-awards and the critics of DownBeat-magazine have voted her as ”Best Female Vocalist” already for 17 times.

Was her return after such long time to Finland worth waiting? Yes and no, she had the same dignified and emotionally distant style –but one could not judge as herself alone as she regards herself as a part of her band. Cassandra Wilson performs mainly songs made by others and her adaptations of those jazz, soul and folk sound very much alike.

At this concert Wilson chose songs mainly from her most ´well-known albums – Blue Light ’Til Dawn, 1993 and New Moon Daugther, 1995. Also she sang Run the Voodoo Down by Miles Davis, and at the end of her concert she performed her versions of country hits Wichita Lineman and of pop hit Last Train to Clarksville. Her concert contained no surprises but smooth music for her fans and others.

The Kenny Garrett Quintet


Photo: Esa Paavolainen

The Kenny Garrett Quintet featuring Kenny Garrett, saxophones, Corcoran Holt, bass, Vernell Brown, piano, McClenty Hunter, drums, Rudy Bird, percussion

Kenny Garrett ranks among the very elite of saxophone players in the world. During hiscareer that has spanned more than 30 years he has played with musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis, he has brought a vigorous yet melodic, and distinctive alto saxophone sound to his music. As a bandleader for the last two decades, he has also continually grown as a composer. His new album Pushing the World Away nominated for Best Jazz Album of 2013. He has won two Grammy awards and was the winner of the 2013 Echo Award and is now a Grammy nominee in the category of Best Improvised Jazz-solo 2014.

So the expectations were high at April Jazz. Kenny Garrett brought his own band to Finland for the first time for this year’s April Jazz. He started his concert with heavy volume and power for almost one hour without real dynamics. They performed from “Seeds From The Underground”-album pieces Boogety Boogety, J. Mac and Wiggins with the same heavy style – only when they performed the simple ballad Detroit it was more convenient to listen.

At the end of the concert they played noisy Happy People which was again a little bit too much trying to raise the feelings amongst the audience. The rock style entertainment seems to be more and more at present in US jazz arenas – which is pity – the old style of Kenny Garrett and his records are still more preferable to many fans of his.

Marius Neset Birds


Photo: Esa Paavolainen

Marius Nest Birds featuring Marius Neset, saxophones, Ivo Neame, piano, Jim Hart, vibraphone,
Ingrid Neset, flute, Heine Bugge, harmonica, Petter Eldh, bass, Anton Eger, drums b

Maurius Neset, 29, is the next great name of Norwegian jazz. His septet has a fresh continuation to Weather Report’s and Jan Garbarek’s fusion. Neset’s performances are based on Nordic folk music and partly also on Celtic folk music.

His last year album’s Birds sounded very much ethnic swing like birds’ sprints and turns, and was followed by ethnical, polka and psalm hymns with roots from Garbarek’s and Django Bates’ heritage. Marius Neset makes his instrument dance and fly like birds, and he is an ingenious composer, too. His concert was very interesting and skilful – and very promising Birds of which are to be expected to hear more!

The Northern Governors


Photo: Esa Paavolainen

The Northern Governors featuring Jorma Kalevi “The Governator” Louhivuori, trumpet and vocals
Jukka “Dr. Jay” Heikkinen, keyboards and vocals, Petteri “Sir Uncle” Sariola, guitar and vocals, Osmo “The Purifier” Ikonen, bass and vocals, Jyri “The Father” Sariola, drums, Linda “Super Pony” Fredriksson, saxophones, Jay “Mr. Love Machine” Kortehisto, trombone, Tuuli Ikonen, vocals, Heini Ikonen, vocals, Hilkka Louhivuori, vocals

The Northern Governors is a brand new super group in Finland. Flicking through the band’s member list is like reading the who’s who in Finnish jazz -and soul music.

The Northern Governors (TNG) performed material from their second album for the first time. Their debut album This is The Northern Governors was released in 2012 by the legendary Blue Note label. They played many pieces from their albums such as Zero Point, Trash Man, Hela huti, When You Came Into My Life with very energetic and powerful way – ready for international challenges!

Maria Ylipää & Marzi Nyman & Ensemble


Maria Ylipää & Marzi Nyman & Ensemble featuring Maria Ylipää, vocals, Marzi Nyman, guitar, piano and vocals, Jukka Perko, saxophones, Pepa Päivinen, saxophones, flute, Jukka Eskola, trumpet, flugelhorn, Laura Hynninen, harp, Arttu Takalo, percussions, Niko Kumpuvaara, accordion, Ville Herrala, bass

Actress and singer Maria Ylipää has become a much wanted stage queen for musicals but in this concert she and quitarist Marzi Nyman and their ensemble performed something more poetic and intimate music such as Anna-Mari Kähärä’s songs based on L. Onerva’s texts.

Then they started more speedy and eventful music with humorous style of Marzi Nyman for various poets and compositions. They also performed Maria Ylipää’s and Emma Salokoski’s Omani Uni-album’s material with genius guitar solo by Marzi Nyman.

In the end they performed some Cabaret-musical pieces and chansons. The most beautiful performances of their performances was Maria Ylipää singing Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson’s masterpiece ”Du Måste Finnas” and “Ljusa kvällar om våren” from the Svenska Teatern’s Musical “Kristina Från Duvemåla”. Maria Ylipää is going move to Sweden to be a part of this success musical which is to be performed in Gothenburg in October 2014.                                                                                                                                                                                   

Angélique Kidjo                   


Photo: Esa Paavolainen

Angélique Kidjo & Band featuring Angélique Kidjo, vocals, Ben Zwerin, bass, Dominic James, Guitar,
Magatte Sow, African percussions, Daniel H Freedman, drums

Angélique Kidjo is the new Mama after Miriam Makeba – the new voice of Africa. She has been very active in working for education and health especially for young African girls in her task of Unicef’s goodwill ambassador and in her own organisation. Angélique Kidjo has been very received and heard where ever she goes in the world gaining her the recognition of “100 most inspiring women in the world” by The Guardian.

She performed songs from her latest album (released in January) Eve expressing her strong attitude and opinion for women in Africa. The album contains also songs by women from small villages in Benin and Kenya. Also it has special guests such as Dr. John and Kronos Quartet.

Kidjo combines traditional African music with soul, jazz, pop, reggae and many other music styles – afro-funk – all linked together into an inspired and energetic performance. Her singing flows seamlessly between English and French as well as her native Fon and Yoruba. She has won one Grammy award and had five Grammy nominations.

Angelique Kidjo performed pieces from her new album Eve such as M.Baamba, Shango Wa, Eva, Kamoushou among others in the closing concert of April Jazz Festival. It was a powerful and energetic concert and show which spread the words for Africa in Finland, too.

The line-up:

April Jazz Festival offered again some interesting international jazz and rythm music stars like The Kenny Garrett Quintet (US, Grammy awarded), Cassandra Wilson (US Grammy awarded singer), Marius Neset Birds (Norway, Nordic master saxophonist), Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet (US, 2012 Trumpeter of the Year, 2013 Rising Star Jazz Group), Angélique Kidjo (Afro pop singer), Larry Goldings (US, Grammy awarded pianist) – hammond trio with Peter Bernstein & Bill Stewart, Marius Neset Birds (Norway, Nordic master saxophonist), Omer Avital Quintet (Israel/US with myriad music), Robin McKelle & The Flytones (US, retro soul singer), Snarky Puppy (US, new jazz fusion), The Pedrito Martinez Group (Cuba, US) Featuring Ariacne Trujillo, Tiempo Habana (Cuban Finnish band).

And Finnish bands and other venues such as: The Northern Governors, Timo Lassy Band, Lenni-Kalle Taipale & Jukka Perko, Maria Ylipää & Marzi Nyman, Teddy’s WestCoasters (Teppo Mäkynen, leading drummer), HERD & Aili Ikonen, Iiro Rantala & Espoo Big Band, Jarmo Saari Republic feat. Sam Huber & Tommy Lindgren, AJazz Clubs at WeeGee Center, Ebeli in Concert, Jamsessions, Jazz Clinics, Leffa (movie) goes Live! at WeeGee Center, Live at F-Music Stage, VJ Sellekhanks, VJ Vixen

For more information on April Jazz Festival see https://apriljazz.fi


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