They used to call him ‘Little Bird’ because already in his teen years he knew all Charlie Parker tunes inside out. And at the tender age of 19, back in 1987, he was invited to join Dizzy Gillespie Big Band for a 5-week European tour (!). Those times and bebop idols are now far behind him after he found his own voice and style many many years ago.
During the following decades Perko has recorded quite a number of albums with his various bands with scale ranging from hymns to old Finnish popular hits never forgetting his jazz roots and its flavor, naturally. At one time he had a long collaboration with vibes wizard Severi Pyysalo and temporarily he has for example worked with Verneri Pohjola, Iiro Rantala, Raoul Björkenheim and the Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren just to name a few.
This is a sort of going back to his basic jazz alphapetics. It is also a humble personal tribute and thanks to Dizzy for those unforgettable experiences. Dizzy is equally divided of Gillespie compositions and tunes otherwise closely connected to him. The tunes are old (much older than Perko) but the approach to them is definitely contemporary and unmistakably personal.
Perko is ‘supported’ (an understatement of the year, actually) by he hottest present Finnish rhythm team there is: ever solid Antti Lötjönen on bass and innovative Teppo Mäkynen on drums. These three musicians have played a lot together on various Perko’s other albums with different line-ups, Mäkynen’s own Teddy’s West Coasters and so on. Mäkynen has led several bands of his own with various styles and Lötjönen, on the other hand, has been Verneri Pohjola’s trustworthy bass player from Ilmiliekki Quartet on. For a decade or so he has been the most sought after musician of his instrument in Finland.
After rather conventionally played opening, Gillespie’s «Bebop», things really start to happen. Tritone approaches Dizzy’s musical world with a strong individul touch both rhythmically and thematically. For example «A Night In Tunisia» starts with Mäkynen’s playful drumming. It takes time before the basic theme actually starts and when it does, it comes out heavily variated, almost unrecognizable at first. The playful touch continues throughout the whole piece with multiple changes in rhythmics and tempo.
The theme and solos on «’Round Midnight» is also a good example of brilliant variations, too. Jukka Perko gives an excellent example of his melody oriented playing style. His alto solo is absolutely beautiful, almost breath taking. As a matter of fact, the whole version by this trio of this unforgettable song is fantastic, one of the best ever.
Talking about Dizzy Gillespie one should never forget his passion for latin rhyhtms. Here it is documented with Chano Pozo’s «Tin Tin Deo plus Manteca» and «Cubano Be, Cubano Bop» (Russell / Gillespie). On the latter Mäkynen shines once again with his drum kit: creative and personal rhythmical fireworks.
As a whole Dizzy is a superb and profound tribute to The Master who had an immense influence to the career and musical advancement of a young country boy from Southwestern Finland. Above all this is also team work, a mutual output by three strong individual musicians.
Jukka Perko (as), Antti Lötjönen (b), Teppo Mäkynen (dr)