Finnish big bands
by Fimic :: 2003
In 1975 a group of Finnish musicians founded the UMO Jazz Orchestra. Before this they had occasionally played with the
Radio Dance Orchestra since it was established 1957. The UMO functioned as a part-time orchestra in Helsinki until 1984, when it was made full-time and placed on a professional footing. This was made possible by the City of Helsinki, the Finnish Broadcasting Company and the Ministry of Education.
EBB favours Finnish composers
© Harri Aiho
|UMO was conducted from its founding until 1991 by the late Esko Linnavalli. He has been succeeded as Artistic Director by Markku Johansson, Rich Shemaria, Eero Koivistoinen and Heikki Sarmanto. For the time being UMO has an Artistic Committee, elected annually from the ranks of the orchestra. The current conductor is Kirmo Lintinen.|
The UMO is nowadays regarded as one of the Europe's leading big bands in tems of versatility. It has played under almost all the world's greatest jazz conductors and has a repertoire of more than 800 works. It has made numerous successful concert tours a.o. a great European tour with Natalie Cole in 1994 and with Manhattan Transfer in 1996. UMO boasts with 22 recordings, of which "Electrifying Miles" (1998) has been one of the most succesful.
Another Finnish big band of professional standard is the Espoo Big Band
founded in 1980, the way having been paved by the Tapiola Big Band
in the 1970s. The focal figure in the history of the EBB has been its founder, conductor Martti Lappalainen
, whose work in training musicians was recognised by the Georgie Award and the first Count Basie medal of the Big Band Association in 1986.
The Espoo Big Band has addressed itself particularly to the performance and recording of new Finnish music for big band. Proof of this are the albums made up of works by Jukka Linkola
, Pekka Pohjola
, Sakari Kukko
and Jarmo Saari
. The EBB has also performed more Finnish big band music at international jazz festivals than any other Finnish orchestra.
In addition to these professional bands there are some 40 plus amateur big bands scattered over the country but united in the Finnish Big Band Association.