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Jukkis Uotila / Stockholm Jazz Orchestra: The Music of Jukkis Uotila (2013)

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Jukkis Uotila / Stockholm Jazz Orchestra: The Music of Jukkis Uotila How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Music of Jukkis Uotila presents an exciting array of modern big band arrangements performed by The Stockholm Jazz Orchestra (SJO), with compositions provided by SJO's drummer and occasional pianist, Jukkis Uotila. For over twenty-five years, the SJO has been at the forefront of big band music, proving that it's possible to explore innovation while remaining loyal to a fundamental swing. One of the ways SJO keeps their music fresh is by working with an impressive roster of guest stars, which over the years has included luminaries such as trombonist Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
1929 - 2011
trombone
, drummer Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
1929 - 1990
drums
, pianist Jim McNeely
Jim McNeely
Jim McNeely
b.1949
composer/conductor
, and legendary Swedish singer Monica Zetterlund
Monica Zetterlund
Monica Zetterlund
1937 - 2005
vocalist
.

The SJO also encourages its members to take center stage, and this particular project spotlights the considerable talents of the group's Finnish drummer, Jukkis Uotila. Now in his early fifties, Uotila has forged a rich career, including co-leading bands with saxophonists Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
Dave Liebman
b.1946
saxophone
and Jerry Bergonzi
Jerry Bergonzi
Jerry Bergonzi
b.1947
saxophone
, leading small groups with members such as trumpeter Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker
b.1945
trumpet
and guitarist John Scofield
John Scofield
John Scofield
b.1951
guitar
, and sideman work with the likes of trumpeter Chet Baker
Chet Baker
Chet Baker
1929 - 1988
trumpet
and arranger and pianist Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
. Uotila is also a gifted educator; in 1994 he became the first-ever Professor of Jazz in the Nordic countries, and his many achievements were recognized in 2011 when he received Finland's prestigious State Prize for Music. Uotila has released several CDs as a leader, but he has long aspired to create a big band record of his own music, and The Music of Jukkis Uotila is the successful fruit of that aspiration.

The CD offers eight songs and a generous 75 minutes of music. Highlights include "Avenida," a high-energy powerhouse full of harmonic colors and tasteful section work. Uotila provides numerous openings for the soloists to shine, including vigorous tenor work by Karl-Martin Almqvist and Robert Nordmark, and a drum and piano solo—both by Uotila. "Wayne" is an homage to saxophonist Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
and his "unique tentative manner," as Uotila states in the liner notes. And indeed the song has a lovely shyness, with delicate colors and shades of contrast, plus a heartbreaking soprano sax solo by the mighty Dick Oatts
Dick Oatts
Dick Oatts
b.1953
saxophone
. "Loopy Loop" is a pleasing, upbeat song with a joyful vamp, plus a swinging solo by baritonist Fredrik Lindborg and finely phrased lines by lead trombonist Bertil Strandberg. The tune also has a lovely a cappella section by the horns, and it's just these sorts of unexpected touches that give Uotila's songs a distinctive flavor. "No Regrets" is another lovely ballad, a tender melody that features the golden tone of Argentinean trumpeter Gustavo Bergalli, plus a spacious, introspective piano solo from Daniel Tilling
Daniel Tilling
b.1975
piano
.

This music is bright and bold, executed with masterful skill and infused with great warmth. Uotila works within the traditional big band parameters, but offers adventurous flourishes that make the music modern, and often downright stunning. Kudos to SJO, which is still going strong after all these years, and still taking chances that keep big band music a fresh and vital force in today's jazz world.

Track Listing: Avenida; Wayne; Isla De Angeles; Loopy Loop; Out in Left Field; No Regrets; Quiet Authority; Chorale.

Personnel: Fredrik Noren: lead trumpet; Karl Olandersson: trumpet; Gustavo Bergalli: trumpet; Magnus Broo : trumpet; Bertil Strandberg: lead trombone; Karin Hammar: trombone; Magnus Wiklund: trombone; Anders Wiborg: trombone; Dick Oatts: lead alto, soprano sax, flute; Magnus Blom: alto sax, flute; Karl-Martin Almqvist: tenor sax, flute, alto flute; Robert Nordmark: tenor sax, clarinet; Fredrik Lindborg: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Daniel Tilling: piano (3,6,8); Martin Sjöstedt: bass; Rafael Sida: percussion (3,7); Jukkis Uotila: drums, piano (1,2,4,5,7).

Record Label: KSJazz


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