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UMO Helsinki with Nikki Iles & Mike Walker (UK)

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Jazz Jam & Brew

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Let’s Festival in summer 2022: Torino Jazz Festival, Lahti Organ Festival, Flow Festival, Helsinki Festival & Allas Sea Pool

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra has a great summer festival season ahead! 

In addition to the visit at the Torino Jazz Festival in Italy in June, we will visit the Lahti Organ Festival, Flow Festival and the Helsinki Festival’s Huvila in August. And you can count the concert at the Allas Sea Pool almost as a festival gig, right? 

Torino Jazz Festival sun 19.6.: Jimi Tenor & UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra read more

Lahti Organ Festival thu 11.8.: UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra & Susanne Kujala: UMORGAN read more

Flow Festival sat 13.8.: Jimi Tenor & UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra read more

Allas Sea Pool thu 18.8.: UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra goes blues with Erja Lyytinen read more

Helsinki Festival, Huvila, tue 30.8.: Ringa Manner & Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen with UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra read more

Last Dance album out on January 28th

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra releases a new album Last Dance – New Music for Jazz Orchestra by Ed Partyka in the end of January 2022. This album is the first conducted by Ed Partyka, the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s current artistic director.

“The long tradition of the orchestra continues successfully with the Last Dance”
– LP Magazin (DE)

Originally hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Partyka has lived and worked in Europe since 1990, mainly in the German speaking countries. As a conductor and arranger, he has collaborated with many top European Big Bands and mentions Bob Brookmeyer as a significant artistic mentor – perhaps no wonder, Partyka’s instruments being the bass trombone and tuba. He has played on over sixty albums, eleven of which have been released under his own name.

The collaboration between UMO and Partyka barely got off to a start when Covid-19 took over the world in March 2020. All the great plans and bright ideas went to waste and “the new normal” started. UMO’s headquarters at the old cable factory Kaapelitehdas in Helsinki was converted into a studio and streamed concerts and other digital content became the order of the day. This was the inaugural production at UMO’s new studio, with three of the four titles being recorded there in September 2020.

“I am very happy with my first album as chief conductor of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra. This special recording contains music written during the first year of my tenure, which also happened to be the first year of the pandemic. The recording itself was made possible by concert cancellations, If concerts had not been cancelled due to the pandemic we would have never had the studio time to be able to record this project. So even though the pandemic caused great disruption and hardship, there were positive things that were made possible by an otherwise negative situation. I love writing for and working with these excellent Finnish musicians, and it is an honor to lead this wonderful orchestra. UMO has a long history of excellence and a rich tradition steeped in the roots of jazz (both American and European), and it is my ongoing goal to respect these traditions and build on the history of the orchestra by bringing in new influences and ideas.” Ed Partyka

On this album UMO’s expanded instrumentation consists of an acoustic rhythm section, five trumpets, French horn, three trombones, tuba and all five saxophone players doubling admirably on a wide variety of woodwind instruments, from flute to contrabass clarinet (and almost everything in-between). Thanks to this impressive array of instruments in the hands of the outstanding musicians of UMO, the soundscape of the album is lush and fervent and Partyka’s sonorous voicings and rich harmonies provide a warm and luxurious orchestral cushion for melancholy melodies and expressive improvised solos.

The challenges of the pandemic remain, and this album is an important document of a situation that could not have been foreseen when Ed Partyka and the members of UMO started working together in early 2020. In any case, the ninth conductor of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra has earned his place in the auspicious, almost fifty-year long history of the orchestra with the excellent music presented here on Last Dance.

More detailed info about the album >>

Album release concerts:

Fri 22.4.2022 at 9 pm – ticket sales starts later
April Jazz Festival, Sellosali, Soittoniekanaukio 1 A, Espoo

Tue 26.4.2022 at 2 pm  
Vuotalo, Mosaiikkitori 2, Helsinki
Tickets and more information:

Wed 27.4.2022 at 2 pm
Malmitalo, Ala-Malmin tori 1, Helsinki
Tickets and more information:

Timo Paasonen gets UMO’s first Jaska Prize

Timo Paasonen, who has played the 2nd trumpet of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra since 1988, has been awarded the Jaska Prize. This is the first time the award is given in UMO. The criteria are good co-operation and maintaining good working atmosphere.

The Helsinki Musicians’ Association has been awarding the Jaska Prize since 2001. The award is presented annually in the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Finnish National Opera’s Orchestra and freelance organisations, and every other year at the Tapiola Sinfonietta. In the future, the Jaska Prize, worth five hundred euros, will be awarded every four years at the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra. The delegation of each orchestra selects the recipient of the Jaska from among themselves in co-operation with the Helsinki Musicians Association.

Warm congratulations and thanks to Timo for a good co-operation!

Photo: Teemu Mattsson

Terra Exotica, new album from Jimi Tenor & UMO

Jimi Tenor and UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra release their second joint album “Terra Exotica” on November 19th.

Terra Exotica was inspired by nearby forests and the seashore, Japanese film-era music, and bands like Sun Ra and Salah Ragab. All of the compositions were created in the pandemic spring of 2020, when Tenor played saxophone in his nearby woods and recorded ideas and fragments on his phone. These recordings have been used in the studio as part of the composition work. All the compositions on the album are new and written by Jimi Tenor for the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra. The conductor is Ed Partyka.

– Among the inspirators of big band music, I could mention Sun Ra and Salah Ragab from Egypt. In addition, I have been listening to a lot of Japanese cinematic music lately, from which one can hear echoes in my compositions. The material I composed is quite exotic in the sense that old Hollywood is described exotic. In addition to these, more swing and blues influences are heard in these new compositions than in my previous works with UMO, Jimi Tenor describes.

The album was recorded at the Cable Factory in Helsinki, Finland in March 2021. Its official release date is Friday, November 19, 2021. The album release concerts will be held on Friday 19.11.2021 in Vuotalo and on Saturday 20.11.2021 at the Savoy Theater, more information about the concerts >>

The album is released on CD, digital and streamed, plus a very limited batch of individually engraved vinyls. The CD is sold e.g. at Bandcamp, Levykauppa X, Eronen, Keltainen Jäänsärkijä and Digelius. The digital publication is available for purchase at Bandcamp. The album can be listened at all possible platforms such as Spotify, iTunes, etc., from November 19th, 2021 on. Listen on Spotify

Jimi Tenor & UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra – Terra Exotica

Pharos Sunset (5:30), solo Manuel Dunkel & Kaisa Mäensivu

October Storm (8:23)

Ghost Train (6:19), solo Max Zenger

Sala De Sol (4:40), solo Timo Paasonen & Mikko Mustonen

Clara Con Limón (4:28)

Asazuke (5:15), solo Max Zenger

Sun Queen (4:52), solo Seppo Kantonen

Yön Synkät Tunnit (5:50), solo Kasperi Sarikoski

Jyrkänteellä (6:54), solo Manuel Dunkel


Soloist, compositions: Jimi Tenor (tsax, flutes, synthesizer)

Conductor: Ed Partyka

Saksophones & woodwinds: Jouni Järvelä, Max Zenger, Ville Vannemaa, Manuel Dunkel, Mikko Mäkinen.

Trumpets: Teemu Mattsson, Timo Paasonen, Mikko Pettinen, Tero Saarti.

Trombones: Kasperi Sarikoski, Mikko Mustonen, Pekka Laukkanen, Mikael Långbacka.

Rhythm Section: Seppo Kantonen, piano; Kaisa Mäensivu, bass; Mika Kallio, drums; Ismaila Sané, percussion.


Recorded: 17.–26.3.2021 Kaapelitehdas, Cable Factory, Helsinki Finland

Producers: Jimi Tenor & UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra

Recording, mixing & mastering: Markus Ketola

Recording assistant: Ilkka Ferm

Record Label: Ronet Records

Distributor: Ronet Records

Cover design: Ronet Records


Jimi Tenor is a Finnish composer and multi-instrumentalist – and a guarantee of original art, whether it is electronic music created as a solo project or a jazz function made with a band. He sings, plays saxophones, flutes, keyboards and self-built instruments. In addition to his music career, an internationally successful multitalent has e.g. photographed, directed short films and designed clothes. 

Ed Partyka extends with UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra has extended Ed Partyka’s Chief Conductor & Artistic Director contract. The three-year contract now runs until the end of 2024 and also includes a further option for a one-year extension to 2025. Partyka took over as Chief Conductor & Artistic Director of UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra in 2019 and his handprint has been featured especially in the 2020 and 2021 programming.

Commenting the extension, Partyka says: 
– It has been a great pleasure to work with UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra over the past two years, and I very much look forward to our collaboration in the future. In addition to our artistic goals, we will be putting more focus on gender balance and diversity in the next few years. We will also be putting additional resources and effort into audience outreach & development, and our digitalisation strategy will continue to grow and evolve. Our goal is to make the music of UMO more accessible to all citizens of Helsinki. Helsinkians and the City of Helsinki should be proud of this world class jazz orchestra! 

Partyka is responsible for the orchestra’s artistic direction and the seasonal concert programming in collaboration with General Manager Eeva Pirkkala and the artistic team. Partyka plans and conducts 10–15 concert weeks annually. The position also includes composing, arranging and orchestrating music customized specifically for the orchestra. 

Eeva Pirkkala, the General Manager of UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, comments: 
– Ed Partyka has artistically embraced the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and earned the trust and appreciation of the entire organization with his professional skills. The orchestra’s instrumental repertoire and diversity have been diversified, and more young talents and international guests have been seen at UMO than before. Partyka has the ability to create a high artistic profile, he has a clear vision to the future without forgetting the jazz tradition, and he does this all with the audience perspective in his mind. In the future, our challenges are related to reaching Helsinki’s diversifying population. We want to be an interesting musical option for audiences of different ages, genders and language, cultural, religious and minority groups. 

Edward (Ed) A. Partyka, 54, is a composer, arranger and conductor whose instrument is trombone. Partyka, an American who has lived in Central Europe for over 30 years, works also as the musical director of the Zurich Jazz Orchestra in Switzerland. He is professor for Jazz Theory & Composition and department chairman of the Jazz Institute at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria and teaches composition at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Lucerne, Switzerland. Partyka has collaborated with several influential European big bands, such as the hr-Bigband and the NDR Bigband in Germany. He also conducts his own orchestra, the Ed Partyka Jazz Orchestra EPJO.

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra is the only professional orchestra in Finland specialised in jazz and new rhythm-oriented music. The big band of 16 musicians plays about 100 concerts every year in Finland and abroad. The orchestra plays a diverse range of modern music that is on the pulse of the times. The programme consists from jazz to soul and classical music, mixing old and new in surprising way, from children to senior citizens.

Photo: Olli Nurmi

Freelancer Auditions November 10–12, 2021

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra is looking for freelancers for its network.

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra is looking for trumpeters, trombonists (tenor, bass) and saxophonists (alto, tenor, baritone) for the orchestra’s freelancer pool. Please mention your main instrument as well as doubling repertoire with skill levels when applying. 

Freelancer auditions consist of three parts: 
First round, solo, with improvisation, anonymous 
Second round, with section

The auditions will be held at UMO’s rehearsal studio at Cable Factory (Kaapelitehdas) in Helsinki as follows:
Wed November 10, 2021 from 10 am to 4 pm: Trumpets
Thu November 11, 2021 from 10 am to 4 pm: Saxophones
Fri November 12, 2021 from 10 am to 4 pm: Trombones

Be prepared to be present throughout the audition day. We do not reimburse travel expenses.

Register as an applicant by emailing your CV by Friday October 22, 2021 to with title “Audition / your instrument”. You will receive detailed information about the process and the sheet music by Wednesday October 27, 2021. Doubling excerpts will also be sent out to applicants willing to showcase these skills at the audition.

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra values equality and diversity. We welcome applicants from different backgrounds, such as people of different ages, genders and different linguistic, cultural or minority groups. We encourage female in particular to apply into the auditions, as we genuinely want to improve UMO’s current gender diversity. 

The audition committee is chaired by Ed Partyka, the artistic director and chief conductor of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra.

Inquiries on weekdays from 12 pm–2 pm (Note! not between October 18–22), Production Manager Terhi Siirala,, tel. +358 40 763 6275.

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra is the only professional orchestra in Finland specialised in jazz and new rhythm-oriented music. The big band of 16 musicians plays about 100 concerts every year in Finland and abroad. The orchestra plays a diverse range of modern music that is on the pulse of the times. The programme consists from jazz to soul and classical music, mixing old and new in surprising way, from children to senior citizens.

Photo: Olli Nurmi

Audience safety at the concerts

Updated February 2nd, 2022

Welcome to UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s concerts! All our concerts will be provided responsibly and according to official guidelines, to ensure safe concert experiences for both our customers and our staff. 

❌ Please do not come to concerts, if you’re ill or have even the slightest symptoms of flu.
✅ Wear a mask throughout the concert.  
✅ Maintain good hand hygiene. Hand sanitizer is provided at the venues and hands can be washed.
✅ Safety distance to other parties must be kept at all times, also when entering and leaving the auditorium and also in queues for the toilets, café, lifts, ticket pickup, etc.
✅ Note the personnel’s guidance, announcements, signs etc. at the venue.
✅ You cannot freely swap seats in auditorium. 
✅ To reduce contacts, we are not giving out printed programmes. Please check the line-up and programme on the concert day at

At some venues and concerts:  
No cloakroom services.
✅ No intermissions.

Each venue may have their own specific safety arrangements, so please review venue’s own guidelines before attending the gig.

There will be many great concerts – let’s work together responsibly to prevent the spread of the coronavirus!

Thank you for co-operation! Welcome to concerts!

Claudia Döffinger from Germany won the composing contest

The final concert of the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest was held at the Savoy Theater, Helsinki Finland on Friday, June 4th.

The winner of the contest is Claudia Döffinger (Germany/Austria) with her composition Nachtwache. Second prize goes to Oskari Siirtola (Finland) and his piece Dear Theo. The third prize travels to Belgium, to italian composer Gabriele di Franco. The first prize is 3000 euros, second 2000 euros and third 1000 euros.

You can watch the final concert on-demand and for free at until 18 June and at UMO Helsinki YouTube channel until 31 August. 

Claudia Döffinger is a German jazz piano player and composer/arranger. She is founder of several ensembles, like SONORcherstra, fourscape and ELiNOR with which she has published four albums and played numerous concerts all over the world. She has gained several international music prizes during the past years. Claudia wants to move people through her music, either emotionally or physically. Nachtwache is about the last encounter between two persons. It’s about the cycle of dying, of fading away peacefully and calmly.

Oskari Siirtola is a Finnish bassist and composer kept busy by performing with groups such as Sointi Jazz Orchestra and Elena Mindru Finnection. He’s studying at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. In his spare time Oskari tries not to buy too many synthesizers or effects pedals. He’s also a keen cartoonist. Dear Theo takes its name from the famous letters Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother. As Vincent pursued his turbulent career in the arts, Theo provided him with both financial and emotional support. 

Gabriele di Franco, born in Italy and currently living in Brussels, is a composer, arranger, and guitarist. He defines himself as an ambiguous artist; living that undefined space between jazz, classical, and world music, focusing on deepness and consciousness in the process of making choices. In other words: composing. Multiple award winner Gabriele has graduated at the Nino Rota Conservatory and holds a Master in Jazz Composition & Arranging from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. 

The composing contest received a record number of compositions: a total of 76 composers from 22 countries and 4 continents. After two anonymous pre-qualification rounds, 10 compositions got into the final concert and were played by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Antti Rissanen. 

The jury included composer and big band leader Bob Mintzer (USA), composer and pianist Iro Haarla (Finland), UMO’s artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka (USA / Austria) and conductor Antti Rissanen (Finland). The final concert was organised in co-operation with UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, Finnish Big Band Association and Savoy Theatre

The finalists of HIBBCC contest are announced, the final concert June 4th

The ten finalists of the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest have been selected. A record number of composers took part in the contest: 76 composers from 22 countries and 4 continents. The composers and compositions which made it to the finals after two anonymous pre-qualification rounds are (in alphabetical order):

Robert Cozma (ROM/GER): Evening Walk
Claudia Döffinger (GER/AUT): Nachtwache
Gabriele di Franco (IT/BEL): Berlin
Daniel Hofecker (HUN): Mr S. G.
Tobias M. Hoffmann (GER/AUT): Conspiracy
Amelia Jutilane-Maynard (AUS/AUT): Isolation
Zach Rich (USA): Let Me Clarify
Oskari Siirtola (FIN): Dear Theo
Gordan Spasovski (MKD): Inner Nova
Drew Zaremba (USA): Cheshire

The final concert will be held as a live stream concert from Savoy Theatre, Helsinki on Friday 4th of June, 2021, at 6 pm (UTC+2). Watch for free at UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s YouTube channel or at live or later. More info about the final concert

The UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra will play the ten selected compositions in the final concert with conductor Antti Rissanen. The first prize is 3000, second prize 2000 and third prize 1000 euros. 

The jury includes American composer and big band leader Bob Mintzer via online connections, the rest of the jury being on the spot at Savoy: composer and pianist Iro Haarla, UMO’s artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka and conductor Antti Rissanen. The concert is hosted by jazz singer Nina Mya

The final concert will be produced in co-operation with UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, Finnish Big Band Association and Savoy Theatre. 

Live stream: Final concert: Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 
Conductor Antti Rissanen 
Fri 4.6.2021 at 6 pm (UTC+2) // UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s YouTube channel and
Duration about 2,5–3 hours. The on-demand can be watched at until 18 June and at UMO Helsinki YouTube channel until 31 August.

Rules of the contest

Photo: Heikki Kynsijärvi  

Record number of participants in the renewed composing contest

The Jury includes Bob Mintzer and Iro Haarla

The Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest organized by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and the Finnish Big Band Association received a record number of compositions; more than double compared to the 2019 competition. 

A total of 76 composers from 22 countries and 4 continents, including 8 Finnish competitors, took part in the contest. This year’s competition was limited to musicians under the age of 35.

Composers participated in the competition under a pseudonym and the first pre-qualification round will be done anonymously. On the first round UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra will play and record all works that meet the competition criteria. At this stage, the jury, which includes composer and pianist Iro Haarla, UMO’s artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka, conductor Antti Rissanen and the orchestra itself, will select a maximum of 10 finalists based on the recordings.

Due to the Covid-19 situation, the arrangements for the final concert have been changed. Contrary to preliminary information, the names of the chosen finalists will be published on 31 May and the concert will take place on 4 June as a virtual event only. American composer and big band leader Bob Mintzer will join the jury in the final concert.

Bob Mintzer (b. 1953) is an American Grammy-winning saxophonist, composer, arranger and conductor. He has played in bands of several jazz greats such as Buddy Rich, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, as well as Jaco Pastorius and is a longtime member of the Yellowjackets. Today, Mintzer is the chief conductor of the German WDR Big Band and holds the Barbara and Buzz McCoy endowed chair at the USC Thornton School of Music.

Iro Haarla (b. 1956) is a pianist, harpist, composer and band leader. She has recorded three albums with her Finnish-Norwegian quintet produced by Manfred Eicher on ECM Records and five albums with her Finnish groups on TUM Records. Haarla has been awarded the Pori Jazz Ted Curson Prize in 2018, Jazz Emma Prizes in 2005 and 2011, and the Finnish Jazz Federation’s Yrjö Prize in 2006.

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra is a professional Finnish big band that plays live in roughly one hundred concerts and other events annually. Since its formation in 1975, the orchestra has released more than 60 albums and collaborated with both Finnish household names and international superstars of jazz. UMO’s repertory reaches from jazz and soul to classical music and beyond, bringing together old and new in an innovative way.

The Finnish Big Band Association (SBBY) currently operates as the umbrella organization of more than forty Finnish big bands. The association provides membership services and supports the training and concert activities of member orchestras and maintains a nationwide Junior All Star Big Band. The members of SBBY are amateur, professional, youth and student orchestras.