ROUND-UP: Jazz Finland Festival in Helsinki

Mopo at Lavaklubi.Jazz Finland Festival 2014
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski
Ralf Dombrowski reports from a three-day showcase in Helsinki:

This was a highly complex event over three evenings, with up to nine concerts each night. The opening sequence of bands were under the banner Young Nordic Jazz Comets, a Scandinavian young platform with five bands crossing over borders, from Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. This section offered one of the highlights of the weekend, namely the Norwegian trio Krokofant (below) with their rock attitude,and their huge, stupendously noisy energy. This trio of sax, guitar, drums presented far more than just curiosity or freakishness value.

Axel Skalstad and Tom Hasslan of Krokofant
Jazz Finland Festival 2014
Photo credit:Ralf Dombrowski

The second night was in the Music Center, a building adjoining the Sibelius Academy Concert Hall complex. The five concerts were mainly of chamber jazz and modern jazz. There were a pair of broodingly subtle piano trios, of which the Kari Ikonem Trio got my vote, if only  by a short head: a lot of intensity in the interaction, clear compositions, tremendous energy here in the band communication, this was an impressive band. In Lavaklubi the saxophone trio Mopo brought the evening to a close. This was an entertaining band, a rock-jazz throwback. If their performance was a bit hyper, they just right for the later evening - with an impressive female baritone saxophonist.

Kari Ikonen
Jazz Finland Festival 2014
Photo credit:Ralf Dombrowski


The third evening was at the Korjaamo Culture. No fewer than nine bands, a complete overload of different impressios. On the one hand therewere amped-up, in-your-face bands like Electric GT, Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio or Elifantree, who had gathered under the banner of madness and the avant-garde. On the other there was brilliant if top-heavy UMO Jazz Orchestra (below), the Arve Henriksen-like Sun Trio, civilized modern jazz with Jussi Fredriksson Jazz Wars, and a pair of soul-swingbop party combos Timo Lassy Band  and Dalindeo.

You get the picture, the spectrum was wide, every effort being made to impress the many foreign guests of the festival and the concurrent annual meeting of the European Jazz Network. In that ambition, the weekend was a complete success.

UMO Jazz Orchestra
Jazz Finland Festival 2014. Photo credit:Ralf Dombrowski

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