Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Eero Koivistoinen & UMO Jazz Orchestra - Arctic Blues (SVART RECORDS 2016)

The saxophonist and composer Eero Koivistoinen, who turned 70 this winter, is going through an exceptionally creative phase in his career. Koivistoinen celebrated his birthday together with the jazz orchestra UMO (Uuden Musiikin Orkesteri, New Music Orchestra), which he took part in founding in the mid-seventies. The orchestra played four concert hall dates with Koivistoinen at the helm both as conductor and solo saxophonist, and decided to join forces in the studio as well.

Arctic Blues was recorded in Helsinki this winter and mixed and mastered in Power Sound Studio, Amsterdam. The album is a showcase of Koivistoinen’s talents as composer, arranger, saxophonist as well as conductor, conducting one of the most remarkable European big bands of today. Arctic Blues is a behemoth of an album, spread over two CDs and three LPs, being the first Finnish jazz record of such magnitude.

After founding UMO 40 years ago together with Esko Linnavalli and Heikki Sarmanto, Koivistoinen has often worked with the orchestra, and also acted as its director for a few years in the 1990s. Arctic Blues consists of mostly new material, recorded in the winter of 2016, but also features three tracks from a live session at UMO Concert House in 2005. The album has big band renditions of Koivistoinen’s past work as well as material written for this record in mind.

“In the 1970s, I studied composition and arranging at the Berklee College of Music, Boston, under the guidance of Herb Pomeroy. It waas an important phase in my musical development. UMO was my second musical college. The orchestra made it possible for me to become acquainted with the best works for big band, guided by the masters themselves. UMO had guest musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, Joe Henderson”, recalls Koivistoinen and adds, “Since we played a lot of these current numbers live with UMO at the shows this winter, the studio session was an easy and inspirational one.”

Svart Records are proud to release Arctic Blues on double CD, triple LP and digital formats on November 25th. Svart also have an ongoing reissue program of Koivistoinen’s past work, with LP reissues of classics such as Wahoo and 3rd Version.