Finland’s much-celebrated spring festival April Jazz is back! From 22 to 27 April, the country’s best jazzmen and women join an international cast that includes Grammy Award winners Cassandra Wilson, Kenny Garrett, Angélique Kidjo and Snarky Puppy, start trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and the talented trio Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart to celebrate the 28th edition of the event that brings hot jazz and the spring to the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
Every jazz cat in Finland knows that, while Pori Jazz is the highlight of the summer, the jazz celebration in spring kicks off with April Jazz. Taking place in half a dozen places around Espoo, a few kilometers outside the Helsinki city center, the festival celebrates its 28th anniversary from 22 to 27 April.
Hot, hot live jazz
This year, for the official kicking off, April Jazz is glad to welcome one of the world’s most distinguished and critically-acclaimed jazz singers: Cassandra Wilson. Winner of two Grammy Awards, she has also been voted “Best Female Vocalist” on DownBeat magazine critic’s poll for 17 times and, in 2001, she was hailed “America’s best singer” by Time magazine. On 22 April, the versatile American singer, songwriter, producer and arranger will step on stage of the Finladia House.
In addition to her illustrious solo career, Cassandra Wilson is also known for a variety of collaborations with artists from different music genres like hip hop/neo-soul band The Roots and afro-funk star Angélique Kidjo.
Kidjo, a familiar face to Finnish audiences, will be the special guest in charge of closing April Jazz 2014. On 27 April, “Africa’s premier diva”, Grammy Award winner and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo will present her most popular songs, as well as tunes from her new album Eve. If you know her music, you know why she is a world’s renowned artist and why she was named one of the “most inspiring women in the world” by The Guardian. If Angélique Kidjo is somehow a new name for you, get ready for a musical journey that will take you from the cultural traditions of Africa to elements of jazz, rumba and the rhythms of zouk, all with catchy lyrics in English, French and Kidjo’s native Fon and Yoruba.
What is the first name that comes to your mind when you hear someone talking about élite contemporary jazz saxophonist? We known, we known… you are probably thinking about Kenny Garrett, and you have a good reason for that! Winner of the several prestigious prizes including the Grammy Award, Soul Train Award an Echo Award, Kenny Garrett has won a Downbeat Poll in the alto sax category for the second year in a row. Known for having performed with nearly all the great jazz masters, Garrett will bring his band to Finland, to perform songs from his Grammy Award-nominee album Pushing the World Away, for the very first time.
New York, New York
California-born Ambrose Akinmusire is one of the rising stars of the international jazz-scene. Winner of the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, as well as the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, Akinmusire is one of the world’s most in-demand jazz trumpeters. Since moving to the Big Apple from the West Coast, he has collaborated with the likes of Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks and Esperanza Spalding and has released three records. The last two, When the Heart Emerges Glistening and his latest album The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint, have been released by the legendary Blue Note Records.
Voted best trumpeter in the 2012 DownBeat critics poll, the versatile Ambrose Akinmusire will make his Finnish debut (26 April, 6 pm) with his Ambrose Akinmusire quintet, band that was voted rising star in the 2013 DownBeat critics poll.
April Jazz festival will welcome another exciting act all the way from New York: Grammy Award-winning band Snarky Puppy. This eclectic group is one of the best kept secrets of the jazz world and has taken the international festival scene by storm only recently. Shows with stars like Marcus Miller and Erykah Badu, a 2013 filled with sold-out performances around the world and the recent Grammy Award have made it official: Snarky Puppy is one of the hottest live music acts alive!
The Omer Avital Quintet will also make their debut in Finland. Led by composer and bass virtuoso Omer Avital, hailed “One of the most exciting musicians to come onto the jazz scene in the last 20 years” by DownBeat, the quintet will bring its intriguing repertoire, filled with influences from North Africa, Israel and Europe, at April Jazz on 24 April (9 pm).
Just when you thought that the debuts at April Jazz 2014 were finished… you get to know that the sensational trio of Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart will be performing in Finland! Despite having been around for over 20 years, this world’s renowned Hammond-trio has never performed in Finland before. On 25 April, April Jazz’s audiences will have the opportunity to welcome Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart for a top-class jazz show.
April Jazz is Finland’s most important spring festival, where only the country’s finest jazz artists perform. The list of Finnish musicians that will play at April Jazz 2014 includes critically-acclaimed saxophonist Timo Lassy and his band (23 April, 7 pm), veteran singer Jukka Hostikka and the Dallapé Orchestra (27 April) and “The return of motoring jazz”, show that features pianist Lenni-Kalle Taipale and sax player Jukka Perko (23 April).
Drummer Teppo Mäkynen will be back at April Jazz both as member of the Timo Lassy band and leader of the Finnish dream team of jazz Teddy’s WestCoasters (24 April), while Jazz Federation Yrjö-prize winning pianist Kari Ikonen and his promising young trio will represent the new wave of Finnish jazz on 23 April.
While you wait for the 28th edition of April Jazz, make sure to listen to the playlist below and share your love for the festival in the comment box under this post! Click here for more information on April Jazz 2014
22 – 27 April