Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


We Jazz Festival 2017

We Jazz Festival 2017
Anthony Shaw By

Sign in to view read count
While one door has closed a host of new ones are opening in Helsinki. —Anthony Shaw

We Jazz Festival
Helsinki, Finland
December 2-9, 2017

Being a party animal at latitudes above 60 degrees takes some doing in the winter months, in Anchorage as in Archangel. Helsinki is south of both cities, just, but is host to one of Scandinavia's hottest and yet coldest modern jazz festivals in the region.

Maybe it's because of the adversity of the climate, but surely equally due to the enlightened determination of the festival promoters, that the fifth We Jazz Festival has been another great success in terms of music as well as audiences. Once again headliners such as The Necks and the Jochen Rueckert Quartet have performed alongside a slew of Finnish musicians, in a range of venues from the classical, former Tzar Alexander II's Opera House to two very huddled corner cafes in coolest Kallio, an inner city suburb.

Over 60 musicians were involved in the week long program, the majority coming from Finland and surrounding Scandinavian or Baltic countries. The full breadth of genres of music were represented, as in the opening Opera House evening. Although the hypnotic Australian jam jazz (The Necks) were the main act, the evening featured two veterans of the local scene, writer, poet and part time singer M.A.Numminen (also official Festival Guardian Angel) narrating and performing a very Finnish 'Jeepers Creepers,' and then composer and pianist Olli Ahvenlahti back on stage with a new Quartet and a selection of crafted tunes from his new album Thinking Whistling.

The younger spectrum of artists were well represented of course, with Elifantree's release concert, their singer Anni Elif Egecioglu's Edith project, Estonian saxophonist Maria Faust's solo show and much more. One name repeatedly featured in the accompanying 72-page festival magazine is Matti Nives, working as DJ, reporter, producer, writer, compère and more. He and his team at the multifarious We Jazz agency bear all responsibility for establishing this event as an ever more prominent feature in the Nordic artistic calendar, particularly in this 100th year of Finnish independence. And still they found the time, energy and a venue to gather a clutch of the finest Finnish musicians (trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, saxophonist Mikko Innanen's Plop, guitarist Teemu Viinikainen and still others) to celebrate the passing of another rock in the Finnish jazz firmament, record retailer Ilkka 'Emu' Lehtinen. His shop Digelius Records has served as a venue, a meeting place and an outlet for jazz in this city for over 40 years. While one door has closed a host of new ones are opening in Helsinki.

Photo credit: Maarit Kytöharju


comments powered by Disqus


Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Live Reviews
Kevin Bales With Chuck Redd At The Jazz Corner
By Martin McFie
January 21, 2019
Live Reviews
Darrell Grant Black Art @ 25 Quartet at Birdland Theater
By Mike Jurkovic
January 18, 2019
Live Reviews
Odean Pope Quartet at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
By Victor L. Schermer
January 15, 2019
Live Reviews
Denise Donatelli at Mezzrow
By Nicholas F. Mondello
January 10, 2019
Live Reviews
The Los Cabos Jazz Experience 2018
By Wendy Ross
January 5, 2019