The largest jazz festival in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area April Jazz Festival was arranged for the 27th time at Tapiola in Espoo during 24-28.4. The programme featured a wide selection of Finnish and international artists. April Jazz Espoo was hosted by the Espoo Big Band and their partners.
April Jazz Festival offered this year 17 chargeable concerts and 12 free concerts including three jazz clinics and new club evenings by local jazz club organizers.
April Jazz festival presented again some interesting jazz music artists such as saxophonist Charles Lloyd and his new Quartet as well as Grammy candidate, singer Gregory Porter, pianist comet Hiromi & Trio Project and neo-soul messenger, singer José James & Band.
Three Finnish bands had the releases of their new albums: Ricky-Tick Big Band with Finnish rap elite of Paleface, Redrama and Tommy Lindgren as vocalists, as well as Jussi Lehtonen Quartet and Kalevi Louhivuori’s Big Blue.
The other performers were: Andy Emler Trio & Dave Liebman, CaboCubaJazz, Ebeli in Concert, Fabrizio Bosso Quartet, Hildegard Lernt Fliegen, Hoedown, Ibrahim MaaloufIce, Loving Animals, Jarmo Saari Trubamolli Trio, Joyce & Band, Jukka Perko Streamline Jazztet, Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio, Mikko Pettinen & The Happy People, Mopo, Oddarrang, Severi Pyysalo, Steve Turre & Espoo Big Band.
The April Jazz festival was started by CHARLES LLOYD NEW QUARTET featuring Charles Lloyd, saxophone, flute, tarogato, Jason Moran, piano, Reuben Rogers, bass and Gregory Hutchinson, drums.
Charles Lloyd is regarded as one of the most significant saxophone players alive. He started playing with famous blues legends and developed into a soulful improviser combining different genres. Lloyd’s album “Forest Flower” has sold over a million copies.
The concert started by the spirit of this year’s Hagar’s Song album with Charles Lloyd’s and Jason Moran’s duet “Mood Indigo”. Performance was sensitive and beautiful music by them both and especially by Lloyd’s flute and tenor saxophone play including lyrics and ballads. Lloyd’s age 75 was no hinder to his playing and the maestro was really in excellent tune!
Lloyds New Quartet was then expanding their music from gospel base forward to Coltrane influenced sensual spiritual jazz and as their concert’s culmination oriental spiritual ambiance inspired by Bhagavad Gita’s spoken words on enlightenment. After this concert one felt more humble and mind open for live jazz music experience like this.
Joyce & Band Feminina Samba-Jazz – Four time Latin Grammy nominee – featuring Joyce Moreno, vocals, guitar, Helio Alves, piano, Rodolfo Stroeter, bass, Tutty Moreno, drums.
Bossa nova legend Antônio Carlos Jobim has praised Joyce Moreno to be ”one of the best singers ever”. Joyce has four Latin Grammy nominations. The latest being for her album ”Slow Music” in 2010. Her most recent solo recording “Tudo” received also international praise.
Joyce’s compositions and interpretations are based on the living and evolving tradition of Bossa Nova and Brazilian music. The songs awere beautiful, sensual and vibrant – brought to life by the magical touch Moreno possesses with the guitar.
Gregory Porter, being currently nominated for a Grammy-award in the category of Best Traditional R&B performance with his tune Real Good Hands, made his first appearance in Finland at this April Jazz Festival 2013. Gregory had a powerful performance and the audience was swinging with the music along with him.
The American singer has been on a steady climb ever since the launch of his debut album Water in 2010, which also landed him a Grammy-nomination. Porter’s second album Be Good was released on Valentine’s Day 2012, receiving much praise from critics for the music and the unique style of vocals. We shall see his further climbing in his promising career.
The Japanese jazz pianist and composer Hiromi is best known for her virtuosic and energetic live performances. Her music is described as progressive jazz fusion. She was voted rising star in the category of keyboard in DownBeats critics’ poll 2012.
This was the first showing in Finland of Hiromi’s super trio, which was consisting of two veterans of the jazz world: bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips. Jackson has played with Chick Corea, Steely Dan and The O’jays during his long career, while Phillips has worked with Toto, The Who and David Gilmour. Hiromi performed strong jazz fusion music and will be noted in the future, too – we shall see.
One of the most waited Finnish artists were on Friday Ricky-Tick Big Band, who had their first performance in this festival. They combined nicely big band swing and rap music & singing, which were performed by Julkinen Sana as soloists Paleface, Redrama and Tommy Lindgren of the Finnish hip hop & rap elite.
The Ricky-Tick Big Band’s 17-man band was led by guitarist-composer Valtteri Pöyhönen, known from the group Dalindéo, RTBB is the new generation of Finnish Jazz. The band consisted of internationally esteemed names as saxophonist Antti Hynninen, trumpetist Kalevi Louhivuori, drummer Jaska Lukkarinen and bassist Antti Lötjönen.
RTBB performed all the pieces of their new album with Julkinen Sana’s hip hop & rap artists which raised the audience’s feelings to the roof. The big band+rap fusion worked very well and it will attract more listeners.
The audience was also impressed by their traditional big band music such as “Easily Flammable” which also the feelings high. RTBB is likely to bring the big band music to a new and modern era.
For more information on this and future April Jazz Festivals see www.apriljazz.fi
Text & photo: Esa Paavolainen