UMO Jazz Orchestra
by Petri Silas :: 2008
Founded in 1975 by musicians such as pianist and bandleader Esko Linnavalli
and saxophonist Eero Koivistoinen
, the UMO Jazz Orchestra is the only professional big band in Finland. Never content to just carry on in the big band tradition, the group has always made an effort to commission and premiere works by Finnish jazz composers.
In the beginning, the UMO collaborated with some of the biggest names in the big band world like trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie
and bandleader Gil Evans
. But gradually the focus shifted towards becoming a vehicle for Finnish jazz. To underline the importance of this task, the UMO has recently toured extensively in different parts of the world.
At the time of its 30th anniversary, the band's line-up was laden with talents like trombonist Markku Veijonsuo
, saxophonist Pepa Päivinen
, pianist Kirmo Lintinen
, and drummer Markus Ketola
. In fact, the term "solist collective" is not far-fetched. And as if to underline the longevity and continuity, the UMO still employs one of its founding members: saxophonist Pentti Lahti
In recent times, the UMO has also taken active part in many crossover projects with people from the classical and the rock realm. Current triumphs include 2003's 'Jatkumo' (a joint venture in between UMO and Markus Ketola and the very first Finnish jazz CD + DVD package), 2005's 'Sauna palaa!' (a showcase for selected Finnah jazz composers, 2007's 'Sky Is Ruby' (consisting of guitarist Raoul Björkenheim
's compositions) and 'Agatha' (consisting of pianist Kerkko Koskinen
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