April Jazz, Espoo, Finland, April 26.-30. has already released its program for such a long time ago that, for example, two concerts of Steve Gadd Band are already sold out. April Jazz is taking place in the neighboroughing city of Helsinki, Espoo, just some 15-20 minutes bus ride far from Helsinki city center. It offers a nice blend of Finnish, Nordic (!) and other international highlights.
The opening night on April 26 has a strong Nordic flavour as its theme. From Denmark there is Peter Rosendal’s Old Man’s Kitchen. The Finns Mikko Innanen (sax) and Aki Rissanen (piano) are combining their musical views with Ole Morten Vågan on bass and Jon Fält on drums in Innanen & Rissanen Nordic Twist. Last but not least comes OK:KO, a purely Finnish band led by the drummer Okko Saastamoinen. It, too, has some Nordic connections. OK:KO won the Young Nordic Jazz Competition in 2016 and has just released their debut album on the Norwegian AMP Music & Records label.
Two days later (28.4.) the focus goes from the North to the South. World music is represented in a two-act concert with Yemen Blues and Helsinki-Cotonau Ensemble. Yemen Blues, led by the vocalist Ravid Kahalani combines Middle Eastern and West-African elements with some ancient Arabic ritualistic songs from Yemen in its music. The music of the growing international interest getting Helsinki-Cotonau Ensemble, on the other hand, mixes Afro-Beat, jazz, funk, hip-hop plus voodoo tradition from Benin.
The uncrowned queen of April Jazz 2017 is undoubtetdly the world famous 5-time Grammy winner vocalist Dianne Reeves whose concert is the same night. However, the above mentioned double act might be a lot more interesting to many than Reeves.
Trumpeter Jesús Acemany leads his 14-piece Cubanismo offering different Cuban rhythms. The NYC Project takes the listeners into the The Great American Songbook. Finnish Kaira ensemble brings out their mix on jazz, soul and funky. Year 2016 Georgie Award winner, saxophonist Esa Pietilä takes his trio to an expedition of art and jazz at EMMA, Museum of Modern Arts.
On Saturday night Finnish pianist Lenni-Kalle Taipale Trio shares a concert with his early years’ idol Michel Camilo who joins forces with guitarist Tomatito in a duo format.
Exactly 30 years ago only a 19-year old saxophonist Jukka Perko got a once-in-a-lifetime stint with Dizzy Gillespie Big Band for a world tour. Not any youngster anymore, Perko now makes a tribute to Dizzy. Triotone Goes Dizzy features the hottest Finnish rhythm team, bass player Antti Lötjönen and Teppo Mäkynen on drums along with Perko himself.