It might be the 49th and not the celebration of its 50th anniversary, but by looking at the lineup for its 2014 edition Pori Jazz could very well be celebrating its 50th or 100th birthday!
Starting from today until 20 July in the coastal city of Pori, the International Pori Jazz Festival features legends Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Pharoah Sanders, world’s renowned jazzmen Christian McBride, Jamie Cullum, Larry Carlton, John Scofield and 2014 Grammy Award winners Snarky Puppy!
The nice weather and the incredible events taking place in July makes it one of the hottest months of the year.
In Finland, every jazz enthusiast knows that Pori Jazz Festival is the place to be to enjoy some of the world’s finest jazz artists under the sun and moonlight.
Pori Jazz: 49 Years of World-Class Live Music
This year, the International Pori Jazz Festival turns 49, an anticipation for what is going to be an incredible edition when the festival turns 50, next summer.
If you’re living in Finland or visiting the country these days, you have to stop at Pori Jazz. It’s the kind of event that every jazz aficionado should attend at least once in their life.
The first edition of the Pori Jazz Festival was held back in July 1966 and welcomed some 1,500 patrons on a 2-day stretch. After changing its formula to a four-day event (from 1975 to 1984), it became a large nine-day music celebration. And it kept growing year after year.
In the early ’90s it reached 100,000 visitors, which grew to an impressive 160,000 in the 2000s. As of today, Pori Jazz is Finland’s most popular summer festival. Starting from today, the whole country will be about the great jazz presented by Pori Jazz 2014.
When Jazz Stars Take the Stage…
For its 49th edition, the Pori Jazz Festival organizing team has put together a rich lineup that features a little bit of something for everyone.
There are living legends such as Pharoah Sanders, (Thu 17.7, 7pm) Patti Smith (19.7, 8pm) and Bob Dylan (17.7, 10pm), evergreen singer Suzanne Vega (17.7, 8:45pm) and big names like Pet Shop Boys (18.7, 10:30pm), James Blunt (19.7, 10:30pm) and Kelis (19.7, 12:30am).
Then there are contemporary jazz stars.
From young talented pianist Tigran Hamasyan (18.7, 9pm) to London singer Zara McFarlane (19.7, 7:15pm), who was nominated for the MOBO’s in the Best Jazz Act category in 2012 and who really exploded this year, with the release of her second album If You Knew Her.
McFarlane arrives to Pori after critically-acclaimed performances in high-profile venues such as Yoshi’s San Francisco and Paris’ Duc des Lombards and appearances at numerous prestigious festivals, including Jazz à Vienne, Glasgow International Jazz Festival and North Sea Jazz.
José James is another rising star who joins Pori Jazz (18.7, 5pm) fresh of the release of a new record – While You Were Sleeping, its second under Blue Note records. He returns to Finland after a great performance at April Jazz 2013.
Guitar lovers in Finland should get themselves ready, as two of the most highly-regarded contemporary jazz guitarists are set to perform at the festival: “Mr. 355” Larry Carlton (17.7, 5pm) and John Scofield with his Überjam Band, which will take the stage in Finland for the very first time (18.7, 5pm).
Speaking of critically-acclaimed bands, Pori also welcomes PRISM (17.7, 2:30pm). Popular double bass maestro Dave Holland leads a sophisticated quartet that features Kevin Eubanks (guitar), Craig Taborn (piano/keys) and Eric Harland (drums).
Sure, Pori Jazz 2014 will be about great, classy jazz. But there will be more to it.
In fact, the festival has also scheduled gigs by two of the grooviest acts around!
Snarky Puppy has started the year in one of the best ways possible: with a Grammy Award. Since receiving the prestigious prize for Something, collaboration with Lalah Hathaway (daughter of the iconic Donny), Michael League (who I had the luck to interview back in April) & co. have literally made dance thousands of people around the world with their latest album We Like It Here and sold-out gigs in some of the world’s best festivals and music venues.
Snarky Puppy’s debut at Pori Jazz (18.7, 12:15am) marks the band second show in Finland. Back in April, they were among the headliners of April Jazz in Espoo. There’s no doubt, Snarky Puppy will like it there in Pori!
If it’s true that to play great music a band needs chemistry, than The Souljazz Orchestra is one of the best examples of this concept. Hailing from Ottawa, Canada, Pierre Chrétien and his companions bring their explosive mix of soul, jazz (yes, you probably guessed by the band name), funk, afrobeat and Latin rhythms to Pori on Thursday 17.7 (6:15pm).
In order to make its 49th edition really an unforgettable one, Pori Jazz has in store more great live shows. Jazz lovers will probably be excited to hear that Rudresh Manhanthappa, Christian McBride and Jamie Cullum are all set to step on stage in Pori.
New York-based alto saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of the most in-demand sax players around. Named both “#1 Rising Star Jazz artist”, “#1 Rising Star Alto Saxophonist” and “#1 Alto Saxophonist of the Year” by Down Beat’s Critics Poll, he has also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and three nominations as “Alto Saxophonist of the Year” (in 2009, 2010 and 2011) by the Jazz Journalists Association. At Pori Jazz Mahanthappa will present compositions from his latest record Gamak (Thursday, 17.7, 9pm).
When talking about élite jazz double bassists, there are two names that will probably come up. One is Dave Holland. The other is Christian McBride.
Born in Philadelphia in 1972, McBride is considered a virtuoso and one of the most recorded musicians of his generation. As sideman alone, he has appeared in over 300 recordings.
On Saturday 19.7 (9pm), Pori Jazz will welcome the 3-time Grammy Award winner, along with pianist Christian Sanders and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., for an elegant performance that will feature compositions from Out Here.
Speaking of elegant jazz, Finns and tourists visiting Pori will be happy to hear that British jazz star Jamie Cullum will be on stage on Saturday 19.7 (5:15pm). At Pori Jazz he will perform is most popular songs, as well as new tunes from his album Momentum.
Local Jazzists and International Non-Jazz Bigs
As Finland’s most important jazz event, Pori Jazz serves as the country’s most prestigious stage for local artists.
Starting from today, the festival will welcome some of the most talented Finnish jazz acts, including the Kari Ikonen Trio, Alexi Tuomarila Trio, Jukka Eskola Orquesta Bossa, the special formation Pori Jazz All Stars and HERD & Aili Ikonen.
Just like it has been happening with some of the world’s largest jazz events, also Pori Jazz will present a series of non-jazz acts.
Non-jazz doesn’t mean second class though.
As said, Pori Jazz 2014 will welcome contemporary greats Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Suzanne Vega, as well as a series of world-class performers.
Brit electro pop duo Pet Shop Boys, singer-songwriter – winner of Brit Awards, Q Awards and NME Awards (and certified chef) – Kelis, James Blunt, young rap star Mac Miller (18.7, 6:15pm), and synthpop aces Hurts (18.7, 7:30pm).
Jazz is the main ingredient of Pori Jazz 2014 – this year’s lineup is simply amazing – but the festival is an event that really welcomes live music lovers of all kinds.
If you’re into live performances, be at Pori Jazz!
The complete programme of Pori Jazz 2014 can be found here
July 12th – 20th