Thursday 16 March 2023

Regular readers will know of our love of all things Finnish Jazz from the 60s to the present and particularly the Ricky-Tick 'golden era'. So how excited were we to hear the We Jazz has done the incredible and got a "modern" big band in the studio to do a new version of Kerkko Koskinen's 2007 album 'Agatha'; now updated to 'Agatha 2'. 

And whilst it heavily features Linda Fredriksson on sax, the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra is a really big 'Big Band'. Now, don't be put off by that title as 'Big Band' is associated with Chazza Shop cheapos [as ever though, look hard enough and you'll find retro revivals of jazz swing: are you ready for a Big Band Bash with the Brighton Jazz Mafia Big Band, The Boogie Bumpers, The Swing Ninjas, Big R Big Band, The Devil's Cut Combo, Miss Annie & The Midnight Shift - I digress but you get the idea].

That said, you'll not find much of a dance as this is more Lalo Schfrin, Gil Evans big band like the prancing 'Piana' or the piano led, 'Mare' or the climax of 'Quiberon'. As you can tell from the cover, there's a hint of “horse” about this (like the saxophone “neighing” on 'Anime') and it's that type of OST soundtrack to a horse Olympics/dressage/show jumping but with jazz and a big bit of nostalgia for the old times. It's a bit of a stretch on first listen and strangely the first 'Agatha' (featuring the 'Miles of the North, Verneri Pohjola) from 2007 didn't feature images of horses on the cover at all!

It would be a bit far to say that this is like a big version of Antti Lötjönen's Quintet East (album out last month on We Jazz, 'Circus/Citadel' review HERE) but perhaps bigger is better?

And in view of the variety of jazz that came out on Ricky-Tick and that this is the first release for over 10 years, it's a big hug and a "welcome back" from all jazz fans.

Artist: Kerkko Koskinen, Linda Fredriksson & UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra

Title: Agatha 2

Release date: 17th March, 2023

Label : We Jazz Records

Catalog Number : WJLP / CD / Digital / Bandcamp 


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