Finland’s superb and customarily adventurous 24–year–old UMO Jazz Orchestra devotes its attention to the Great American Songbook on Selected Standards, reframing these familiar works to suit its Nordic temperament and imparting to them a personality that’s as fresh and invigorating as a tone poem by Sibelius. From the marching drum, dancing piccolo and shifting time signatures that introduce “Indiana” to the shuffling rhythms and rap vocal at the onset of Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale,” these are timeworn standards with a contemporary twist. The charts, by Eero Koivistoinen (“Indiana,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is”), Jukka Linkola (“Bess, You Is My Woman Now,” “Love for Sale”), Kirmo Lintinen (“Never Will I Marry,” “Falling in Love with Love”), Sonny Heinilä (“Long Ago and Far Away,” “Darn That Dream”) and Jarno Kukkonen (“My Shining Hour,” “All or Nothing at All”), are consistently imaginative and far enough removed from the beaten path to capture and nourish one’s inte rest. The Helsinki–based orchestra takes to them like a duck to water, while its soloists are sharp and irrepressible (one can sense the unbridled enthusiasm, for example, as baritone Pertti Päivinen bursts from the section and scurries through his choruses on “My Shining Hour”). Flugelhornist Markku Johansson, who also conducts the orchestra, is featured on Gershwin’s ballad “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” and Rodgers and Hart’s “Falling in Love with Love,” taken at a brisker tempo with quasi–Latin undercurrents, and he is excellent in either circumstance. Other noteworthy soloists include alto Perko (“Indiana,” “Darn That Dream,” “Love for Sale”), pianist Lintinen (“Indiana,” “Falling in Love with Love”), tenor Heinilä (“Long Ago and Far Away,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” Darn That Dream”), bassist Sarmanto (“You Don’t Know What Love Is”), guitarist Kukkonen (“My Shining Hour”), trombonist Veijonsuo (“Never Will I Marry”) and trumpeter Priha (“All or Nothing at All,” with con! guero Aaltonen lending a hand too). If you can find a copy of this disc, which was recorded in 1993, buy it. You won’t be disappointed.
Track listing: Indiana; Long Ago and Far Away; You Don’t Know What Love Is; My Shining Hour; Bess, You Is My Woman Now; Never Will I Marry; All or Nothing at All; Falling in Love with Love; Darn That Dream; Love for Sale (56:40).
Markku Johansson, artistic director, conductor, flugelhorn (5, 8); Pentti Lahti, alto, soprano saxes, flute, piccolo; Jukka Perko, alto, soprano saxes, clarinet; Sonny Heinil
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