Tobias Hoffmann from Germany won the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023  

The final concert of the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023 was held at the Malmitalo, Helsinki Finland on Thursday, October 5th.

The winner of the contest is Tobias Hoffmann (Germany) with composition Buoyancy. Second prize goes to Filip Wiśniewski (Germany) and his piece Bacon And Death. The third prize travels to UK devided with two composers: Andy Schofield’s Hear My Voice and Charlie Bates’ The Good ThingsIn addition, Bates’ composition got a special award as orchestra’s favorite. The first prize is 3000 euros, second 2000 euros and third 1000 euros prize was divided into two 500 euros sets. 

Tobias Hoffmann (b. 1988) is a German, nowadays Austria based saxophonist and composer, who received the second prize in the Esko Linnavalli Composers Contest in 2019 and was also in the finals of HIBBCC 2021. He has been awarded several composing prizes worldwide, e.g. by the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers, Downbeat Magazine and the 2nd Ise-Shima International Popular Music Composition Competition in Japan. Besides working with his own band projects, Tobias works as a sideman, composer and arranger. He conducted the Vienna Spittelberg Jazz Orchestra 2014–2017. 

Filip Wisniewski (b. 1982) is a German based composer, arranger and jazz guitarist. He studied jazz guitar 2004–2010 and composing and arranging 2020–2022 in Nuremberg. He has written music for different ensembles, concert bands, big bands and vocal ensembles. His first big band concert program was played by the Sunday Night Orchestra in 2022. For this graduation concert he achieved the Bavarian culture price. Filip’s colourful storytelling composing style for large ensembles and big bands is deeply influenced by symphonic music, but also pop, alternative music and big band jazz tradition. 

Andy Schofield (b. 1966) is a saxophonist/composer/arranger and teacher from Manchester UK, now living in Prague, CZ. He was a founder member of the ground-breaking Creative Jazz Orchestra in the UK from the mid-1990s, working alongside such artists as Kenny Wheeler, Bill Frisell, Peter Erskine, Mike Gibbs and Vince Mendoza, and has toured and recorded with artists as diverse as George Michael and Anthony Braxton. Andy is very active in the European jazz scene, and is a member of several European jazz ensembles. He currently leads the Jazz Dock Orchestra big band in Prague. 

Charlie Bates (b. 1994) is a pianist, composer, arranger and conductor from London, UK. He studied at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and graduated as a prizewinner and with first class honours in 2017. Charlie has won a number of awards for composing in the UK, including the Ivor Novello, the Dankworth and Eddie Harvey Awards. Most recently, he has been working with the world famous NDR Big Band (DE) as a guest composer, conductor and arranger. Charlie also works as an educator: he coaches big bands and jazz ensembles.

You can watch the final concert on-demand and for free UMO Helsinki’s web site, mobile app and YouTube channel.  

The jury of the competition included the artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka (head of jury), British pianist, composer and conductor Nikki Iles and Finnish saxophonist, composer and conductor Eero Koivistoinen

This year’s competition was limited to European or Europe-based composers with no age limit. 76 participants from 24 countries entered the competition. After two anonymous pre-qualification rounds, the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra played the ten compositions selected for the final concert in front of a live and online audience, led by conductor Antti Rissanen.

The Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest is organized and produced by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and the Finnish Big Band Association. The biennial contest will be organized again in 2025. The competition was previously known as the Esko Linnavalli big band composition competition.

The finalists of Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023 are announced, the final concert in Helsinki and a live stream on Thursday, October 5th 

The finalists of the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest have been selected. This year’s competition was limited to European or Europe-based composers with no age limit. 76 participants from 24 countries entered the competition. The age range of composers was wide; the youngest participant is 17 and the oldest 74.

The composers and compositions which made it to the finals after two anonymous pre-qualification rounds are (in alphabetical order):

Charlie Bates (UK): The Good Things 

Marco Battigelli (Italy): In Springtime 

Marc Doffey (Germany): Slow Song 

Teemu Halmkrona (Finland): Fleeting Memories 

Tobias Hoffmann (Germany/Austria): Bouyancy 

Gergö Kormányos (Hungary): Curiouser And Curiouser 

Markus Neuwirth (Austria): Theme for an Anime (That Doesn’t Exist) 

Andy Schofield (UK/Czech Republic): Hear My Voice 

Rahel Talts (Estonia/Denmark): One Step Forward 

Filip Wiśniewski (Germany): Bacon And Death 

– The level of compositional technique as well as creativity demonstrated by the composers of the HIBBCC 2023 is most impressive. The high number of excellent compositions made the selection process challenging for the members of the jury, but I feel we have chosen extraordinary pieces for the final round. I would like to thank the members of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra for their hard work recording this demanding and sometimes extremely complicated repertoire for the jury, the orchestra really makes this music come alive. I very much look forward to hearing these new masterpieces of jazz composition live at the final concert on October 5th, says Ed Partyka, the head of jury. 

The UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra will play the selected compositions in the final concert with conductor Antti Rissanen at Malmitalo, Helsinki, on Thursday October 5, 2023, at 6 pm (UTC+2). The final concert will be streamed and can be watched for free at UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s mobile app and website or at YouTube channel, live or later on-demand. 

The first prize is 3000, second prize 2000 and third prize 1000 euros. The jury has the right to divide the prizes in another way, as well as award special prizes.

The jury of the competition includes the artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka (head of jury), British pianist, composer and conductor Nikki Iles and Finnish saxophonist, composer and conductor Eero Koivistoinen. The concert is hosted in English and Finnish by Henriika Steidel-Luoto

The contest is organized and produced by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and the Finnish Big Band Association.

Final concert: Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023 

Conductor Antti Rissanen 

Thu 5.10.2023 at 6 pm (UTC+2) // Malmitalo, Helsinki 

Free livestream at UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s mobile app and website and at YouTube channel. Duration about 2,5–3 hours.

Link to the competition rules

Information about the final concert

Photo: Heikki Kynsijärvi  

The finalists of the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023 will be published on August 30, contrary to prior information

Contrary to prior information, the finalists of the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023 will be announced with a few days delay. Originally, the finalists were to be announced on Friday, August 25. The competition committee has decided to delay the results due to the illness of a jury member. The finalists will be announced after two anonymous pre-qualification rounds on the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s website umohelsinki.fi on Wednesday, August 30. 

This year’s competition was limited to European or Europe-based composers with no age limit. 76 participants from 24 countries entered the competition. The age range of composers is wide; the youngest participant is 17 and the oldest 74.

The competition jury includes UMO’s artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka (head of jury), British pianist, composer and conductor Nikki Iles and Finnish saxophonist, composer and conductor Eero Koivistoinen

The UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra will play the selected compositions in the final concert with conductor Antti Rissanen at Malmitalo, Helsinki, on Thursday October 5, 2023, at 6 pm. The contest is organized and produced by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and the Finnish Big Band Association.

Link to the competition rules

Information about the final concert

Photo: Heikki Kynsijärvi  

The composing contest got 76 participants from 24 countries

The judges are Nikki Iles, Eero Koivistoinen and Ed Partyka 

The Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest, organized every other year by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and the Finnish Big Band Association, received a record number of compositions again this year. 

This time, all European or Europe-based composers without age limit were able to participate in the competition. By the deadline in the beginning of May, 76 participants from 24 European countries entered the competition. 58 of the competitors are from outside Finland. The age range of composers is wide; the youngest participant is 17 and the oldest 74. 

The finalists will be announced after two anonymous pre-qualification rounds on Friday August 25, 2023. A maximum of 10 compositions will be performed live by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra in the final concert at Malmitalo, Helsinki, on Thursday October 5, 2023, conducted by Antti Rissanen. Tickets for the final concert are already for sale at Lippu.fi.

The jury of the competition includes the artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka (head of jury), British pianist, composer and conductor Nikki Iles, Finnish saxophonist, and composer, conductor Eero Koivistoinen. (Edited 29.5.: Jim McNeely will not after all be a jury member)  

Link to the competition rules

Information about the final concert

The finalists are announced on August 30, see the list here!

Photo: Valtteri Pokela. The photo is not related to this year’s contest.

New joint album from UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and Nina Mya is now out  

The jazz singer Nina Mya and UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra have released their joint album Searching My Soul on April 21, 2023 (in digital format only). The album is part of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s Great Voices series, dedicated to stellar vocalists from Finland and abroad.

The Great Voices has featured numerous concerts since 2020, and this album is the first recording released in the series. Nina Mya’s rich and dark voice is very unique in the Nordic region and is perfectly suited to open the album series. 

The album consists mainly of Nina Mya’s own compositions with new big band arrangements written by UMO’s chief conductor and artistic director Ed Partyka, who also conducted the album.

The album release concert will be held at G Livelab in Helsinki on Monday 8.5.2023. The concert tickets are already for sale, buy here.

The album has been released in digital format only and is available e.g. on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, Tidal and Deezer. A music video for the single has also been released on YouTube. The album is released by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and distributed by Sony Music Entertainment Finland.

­­– The album has a strong theme of relationships, self-development and finding the inner self. The name Searching My Soul refers to my own way of studying and analysing my selfhood and listening to my inner voice. I do it mainly through the theme of relationships, which can be heard also at this album. I feel that I have always lived against the “this is how you should live” norm. I haven’t been silent and stayed still when that was expected of me, says Nina Mya.

– My compositions get an interesting and fresh angle in Partyka’s new arrangements, and do the songs justice in a completely new way. These big band arrangements give my music a certain richness, with layers and body around it, Nina Mya continues.

Nina Mya is a rewarded Finnish jazz singer, composer and vocal teacher. She has published four albums as a band leader: Flying Solo (2012), Our Time (2014), Closure (2016) and Just Another Lonely Soul (2021). She has performed all around the world in big arenas, festivals and clubs. Besides of her own band she has performed and recorded also as a featuring artist with many big names in the music industry. Nina Mya has a dark, technically impressive voice and she is a soulful and strong interpreter who combines jazz, soul and gospel influences in a unique way. www.ninamya.com

Photo: Teemu Mattsson 

Cover design: Luova toimisto Pilke 

Henriika Steidel-Luoto appointed as the substitute of general manager of the UMO Foundation

Henriika Steidel-Luoto (b. 1991) has been appointed as the substitute of general manager of the UMO Foundation, which runs the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra.

Henriika Steidel-Luoto is a versatile professional of music and culture with extensive experience in various roles as a producer, music pedagogue, composer and musician. She has worked as producer of Sointi Jazz Orchestra and Jyväskylä Big Band, as well as artistic director and producer of Wine Garden Festival. She has years of experience in big bands also as a trombonist and vocalist. Through her work as a producer and musician, Steidel-Luoto has good networks across genre boundaries both in Finland and internationally. Her passion is big band music and its development.

– The UMO foundation gets a competent and inspiring substitute of general manager from Henriika Steidel-Luoto. I believe that under her leadership, the orchestra will perform memorable concerts with wonderful soloists both at festivals and in concert halls. I’m looking forward to our cooperation, comments Tuomas Finne, chairman of the UMO foundation.

– It’s great to work together with Finland’s foremost jazz orchestra. I have admired UMO’s activities over the years in the role of trombonist and producer. I believe that this spring I will bring a whit of young female energy to the orchestra. I thank the board of the UMO Foundation for this great trust, says Henriika Steidel-Luoto.

Photo: Teemu Mattsson

Max Zenger appointed as the 2nd alto saxophonist of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra  

Saxophonist and woodwind specialist Max Zenger (b. 1988) has been appointed as the new 2nd alto saxophonist of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra.

Zenger, who graduated from the Sibelius Academy in 2018, is a respected jazz musician and composer who has risen to the top of the Finnish jazz scene in recent years. He leads his own bands, such as Maxxxtet and Max Zenger Globus, with which he won the first place in the European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) jazz ensemble competition in 2018. In 2017, Zenger was awarded Pori Jazz Festival’s Talent of the Year prize and was chosen as Artist of the Year for Turku Jazz Festival in 2018. He is a founding member of the record label Flame Jazz Records. 

Later this year, Zenger will release his tenth album with his own compositions. In addition, he has played on dozens of other artists’ and on several UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s records.

Zenger first performed with UMO in 2016. Since then, he has regularly worked with the big band as a freelancer, has also done longer substitutes in the saxophone section and has been a soloist in UMO’s concert series.

Zenger will assume his new permanent duties in the autumn season 2023, but he can be seen in the orchestra’s sax section several times before that. His repertoire of instruments in the front row of UMO is impressive: in addition to his main instrument alto saxophone and the most usual instruments of the saxophone, clarinet, and flute family, he plays e.g. contrabass clarinet and bass saxophone. His expression is distinctive and easily recognizable, and he is at home with both traditional and more experimental jazz.

The open and international call for applicants was carried out in a four-round audition process. The first stage was as an anonymous audio pre-selection round, after which the successful applicants were invited to a live audition. It was also possible to be selected for the first round of live audition by getting an invitation from the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra. Those who received an invitation were deemed to meet the application requirements based on previous cooperation with the orchestra. As in the audio round, the first two rounds of the live auditions were played anonymously behind a screen. Only the last fourth round was played face-to-face in front of the jury of more than 10 people. The audition consisted of solo and section playing with and without rhythm section accompaniment, prima vista and improvisation tasks, as well as an interview. 

– Already at the Pori Jazz Festival 2008, when I was watching UMO’s gig and Manuel Dunkel’s solo, I thought that one day I would be playing in UMO too. Being selected to this orchestra is definitely one of the highlights of my career so far. It is a great pleasure and honour to continue the story of one of the most legendary big bands and bring my own spice to the soup, Zenger comments.

– I am thrilled that the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra has chosen Max Zenger as its newest permanent member. Max demonstrated outstanding abilities as an improvisor, section player and multi-instrumentalist in a wide variety of styles to convince the search committee that he is the perfect candidate for the position, says Ed Partyka, UMO’s artistic director and chief conductor.

– Max Zenger is an exhilarating player. He continually explores melodic and rhythmic possibilities, leaving his listeners in awe. In addition to his solidity as a section player, he shows curiosity and inventiveness, both of which are musical virtues rarely found at this level, says the Dutch saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist Joris Roelofs, who acted as an international specialist of the jury.  

– We had more than 30 applicants; the number and the field of applicants was impressive. I would like to personally thank everyone who applied and auditioned. I would also like to thank the orchestra and staff for their hard work, transparency and cooperation throughout the entire application and audition process, Partyka continues. 

– The UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra is a big band with a standard line-up of 16 musicians. Currently, the orchestra has 12.5 permanent musicians with monthly salaries, and the remaining 3.5 positions are filled with freelancers. The increase in the grant from 2023 on from our owner, the city of Helsinki, makes it possible to recruit and fill one position and invest in the development of the orchestra’s quality, appreciates Henriika Steidel-Luoto, deputy general manager. 

Photo: Petri Anttila

The Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest will be held again in 2023

Held every other year, the Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest will be organized again in 2023 by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and The Finnish Big Band Association (SBBY). The competition, previously known as the Esko Linnavalli big band composition competition, was reformed two years ago, and the rules have been slightly modified again in this year’s edition. 

This time, all European or Europe-based composers without age limit can participate in the competition with one previously unrecorded and unpublished 4–7 minute piece, composed for a standard big band orchestration.

Contestants must submit their entries by May 1, 2023. Composers participate in the competition anonymously, under a pseudonym. The finalists will be announced after two anonymous pre-qualification rounds on August 25, 2023. A maximum of 10 compositions will be performed live by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra in the final concert at Malmitalo, Helsinki, on October 5, 2023, conducted by Antti Rissanen. Tickets for the final concert are already for sale at Lippu.fi

The finalists are announced on August 30, see the list here!

The jury of the competition includes the artistic director and chief conductor Ed Partyka (head of jury), British pianist, composer and conductor Nikki Iles, and Finnish saxophonist, composer and conductor Eero Koivistoinen.

– This contest gives needed exposure and financial support to composers who may not otherwise have the chance to have their music performed by a professional big band. In the last edition of the contest, we focused on young composers and in this edition, we will be focusing on European composers. In addition to helping the composers with exposure and financial support, this contest also is a great way for UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra to meet composers and arrangers for future projects. Finalists from the last edition have been working regularly as arrangers, soloists and even conductors for UMO, says Ed Partyka, the chief conductor and artistic director of UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, who also is the head of the jury. 

HELSINKI INTERNATIONAL BIG BAND COMPOSING CONTEST 2023                 

COMPETITION RULES AND ENTRY

DOWNLOADABLE FILES

COMPETITORS AND COMPETING WORKS

Participation in the competition is confined to Europe only. Contestants must either be citizens or residents of a European country. Participants need to produce documentary evidence of their citizenship or recidency in an European country. Entries are not limited by age.

The competition entries must be scored for standard big band orchestration. Admissible doubling instruments are mentioned below:

  • 2 alto saxophones, doubling instrument: clarinet (in Bb)
  • 2 tenor saxophones, doubling instrument: flute (no alto flutes and/or piccolos)
  • baritone saxophone, doubling instrument: bass clarinet
  • 4 trumpets, doubling instrument: flugelhorn
  • 3 trombones
  • bass trombone
  • piano
  • bass
  • drums

In addition, all mutes for brass instruments can be used. PLEASE NOTE! Guitar is NOT included in the line-up.

The duration of the competing work must not be less than four (4) nor more than seven (7) minutes. Works entered in the competition must not be previously recorded or released. Each composer is allowed to submit one composition for the contest. Previous 1st prize winners of Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest or Esko Linnavalli Big Band Composition Competition or jury members are not allowed to enter.

ENTERING THE COMPETITION

Compositions must be submitted anonymously, under a pseudonym, to terhi@umohelsinki.fi by Monday May 1, 2023 at 16:00 (UTC+2) at the latest. Entries sent after this will be disqualified of the competition. 

The email must be titled “Helsinki International Big Band Composing Contest 2023”, and it must include the following attachments:

  • filled application form
  • documentary evidence of citizenship or recidency in an European country
  • anonymous sheet music as PDF files:
    • separate parts, A4 portrait
    • transposed score, A3 landscape
    • untransposed (in C) score, A3 landscape
  • audio file of the composition (MP3 or MIDI)

The application form must include the following information:

  • name of the composition
  • pseudonym of composer
  • name and date of birth of composer
  • postal address, phone number and email of composer

COMPETITION TIME TABLE, THE JURY AND PRIZES

TIMETABLE

In the assessment stage in June 2023 the jury will select a maximum of 30 works for the second stage based on audio files and anonymous scores. The results of the first qualification will not be published. In the second qualification in August 2023 the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra will play the pre-selected compositions, and the jury will qualify a maximum of 10 compositions for the final. The names of qualified finalists will be announced on Friday August 25, 2023. 

The compositions qualified in the final will be performed live by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra in the final concert, which will be held at Malmitalo, Helsinki on Thursday October 5, 2023. The compositions will be judged in the final by a jury set by the organisers of the competition. The final results will be announced immediately after the event. The composers competing in the final are invited to attend the final concert at Malmitalo. The organisers will not cover travel or accommodation costs incurred by attending the final.

COMPOSITION OF THE JURY

Ed Partyka (Chairman), Artistic Director of UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra (US/AT) 

Nikki Iles, pianist, composer, conductor (UK) 

Eero Koivistoinen, saxophonist, composer, conductor (FIN) 

PRIZES

1st prize:     3.000 euro

2nd prize:   2.000 euro

3rd prize:    1.000 euro

The jury has the right to divide the prizes in another way, as well as award special prices.

FURTHER USE OF THE COMPOSITIONS  AND MEDIARIGHTS
The organisers reserve the right to premiere the selected works at the final concert on October 5, 2023. All finalists will cede the right of use of the compositions to the organisers, and by participating in the contest agree that the sheet music of the compositions will be freely distributed after the contest via https://sbby.com/nuotisto/savellyskilpailut/

The organisers have the right to broadcast, record, video, televise, film and photograph the competition performances and to make sound and video recordings of these.

INTERPRETATION OF RULES AND CONFLICT SITUATIONS

Any potential disagreements will be resolved according to the Finnish rules of the contest. Any situation caused by Force majeure reasons will be resolved by the competition committee. 

COMPOSITION OF THE COMPETITION COMMITTEE

Two representatives nominated by the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra and two representatives nominated by the Finnish Big Band Association.

THE ORGANISERS
The competition is organised in cooperation by UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra (UMO Foundation) and The Finnish Big Band Association (SBBY).

FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE COMPETITION:
Terhi Siirala, production manager, UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra
+358 40 763 6275
terhi@umohelsinki.fi

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 repertoire reaches from jazz and soul to classical music and beyond, bringing together old and new in an innovative way. www.umohelsinki.fi 

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. www.sbby.com 

Photo: Heikki Kynsijärvi 

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: https://umohelsinki.fi/en/konsertti/last-dance-2/

Wed 27.4.2022 at 2 pm
Malmitalo, Ala-Malmin tori 1, Helsinki
Tickets and more information: https://umohelsinki.fi/en/konsertti/last-dance-2/