Exit UMO Jazz Orchestra: Enter UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra!

UMO Jazz Orchestra has a new name. UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra was adopted following a recent report carried out by the City of Helsinki, the orchestra’s owner. Based on the report, it was concluded that the inclusion of the main sponsor’s name is in keeping with a policy widely adopted by other big bands operating at an international level.  

– The change of name is wonderful news for our organisation, and we will carry the new name with pride, says Eeva Pirkkala, General Manager of the UMO Foundation, the body administering the orchestra. 

UMO Helsinki’s spring season is bursting with memorable concert experiences. Take a look at the spring programme and come along for music is best enjoyed live! The concert calendar is available here

Ed Partyka is UMO’s new Artistic Director & Chief Conductor, Guillermo Klein an Artistic Partner

American composer, trombonist/tubist, composer/arranger and conductor Edward (Ed) A. Partyka has been named as artistic director and chief conductor of UMO Jazz Orchestra.

Partyka, 51, who currently resides in Austria, has lived in Europe for almost 30 years now, during which he has collaborated with influential European big bands, such as HR Big Band and NDR Big band in Germany. He has also appeared in the capacity of guest conductor, planner and arranger for the Vienna Art Orchestra and the Zürich Jazz Orchestra. He has worked with Bob Brookmeyer, Carla Bley and Robben Ford and he leads is own group Ed Partyka Jazz Orchestra. He is currently 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. Ed Partyka is known as a first-class band leader and orchestra developer.

Partyka’s contract spans years 2010–2021, with an option for year 2022. His work will start in spring 2019, and he will plan and lead 10 concert weeks yearly. Partyka’s addition to UMO can be seen in the program from spring 2020 onward. His efforts will be supported by an Artistic Partner and an artistic team.

Partyka’s responsibilities as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor will include creating UMO Jazz Orchestra’s seasonal concert program, as well as orchestrating, composing and arranging music customized specifically for the orchestra. He will function as musical foreman for the orchestra, as well as band leader during performances and rehearsals. He will also be expected to clarify UMO’s artistic direction and identity, as well as strengthen ties with professional big bands in Europe.

–  One of the main factors in the appointment of Partyka, was his experience in creating programs of high artistic standard with similar organizations in Central Europe. Partyka has shown an understanding of the financing and the role played by a public organization such as UMO. He has excellent connections to both the European and American jazz fields, due to his previous work, explains UMO foundation’s chairman Mr. Toni Paussu.

– I look forward to working with one of the world’s leading jazz orchestras. I will do all I can to help continue the established tradition of excellence and to help the orchestra grow musically in the future with new impulses and ideas. In addition to supporting and leading the Finnish jazz scene I hope to open up new lines of communication and cooperation to include other European countries and other leading European large ensembles. Of course, the American roots of jazz cannot be forgotten, but the diversity of jazz styles in the 21st century should be celebrated and fostered, something the UMO Jazz Orchestra – soon to be named UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra – will certainly continue under my leadership, commentates Partyka.

Composer, pianist and band leader Guillermo Klein, 49, has been named as Artistic Partner 2020–2021. The 49-year-old Klein, born in Buenos Aires and educated in the United States, resides in New York these days and is a global jazz personality with a diverse musical background, which encompasses classical music, rock and Latin music. Klein has collaborated with many influential orchestras, such as HR Big Band and Metropole Orchestra. He also heads his own group Los Guachos with whom he tours and has been playing regularly at the Village Vanguard in New York for fifteen years.

As artistic partner Klein will plan and lead four concerts per year, starting from the spring season 2020. He will create content of high artistic standard for the program, invite guests from his own network, and take part in the artistic team. One of Klein’s specific tasks is to add a Latin element to UMO’s programming.

–  Guillermo Klein’s way of composing music and being in touch with the heart of new musical influences made a big impression. His musical skills and good connections in international jazz scene will be a welcome addition in planning UMOs artistic gestalt, says Paussu.

– I am looking forward to bring UMO great projects, different and adventurous, unique, deep and fun. Having a great rapport with the band allows me to dream this way. Being such an outstanding group of musicians and a great human group as well, I am confident we’ll offer the Helsinki and Finnish community something worth of experiencing. I have not worked with Ed Partyka before, but I am confident it will provide a great expertise and a good balance in our collaboration, Guillermo Klein says.

UMO changes name, keeps their permanent employment

UMO Jazz Orchestra and the city of Helsinki reached an agreement about the foundation’s economy and working conditions.

The city of Helsinki, the owner of UMO Jazz Orchestra, ordered a development research for the city’s only full-time big band in the spring of 2018. As a result of the study, the city council requested UMO to make a report of the effects of downsizing the work contracts from permanent positions to part-time jobs. UMO commissioned an independent, more thorough research that included also different employment models and other possible budget relieving actions.

During the fall of 2018, UMO has negotiated about the labor agreement terms with the Finnish Musicians Union and Avainta association. The negotiations resulted in an agreement, where the orchestra can retain their funding from the city and keep their permanent positions by cutting down their recording compensations. This corrective action, along with other reviving measures, will bring a saving of 12 %, which would have been the estimated rate of the part-time employment model. The UMO staff and the city council are both pleased with the outcome, and happy that the orchestra can continue their artistic work in peace.

As a handshake to the newly-affirmed co-operation between UMO and its hometown, the new name of the orchestra will be UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra. To improve the communication and interaction between the partners, they will also nominate a delegation to create a new strategy for the orchestra’s development.

Together by Randy Brecker, Mats Holmquist & UMO out now

Together, the combination of Randy Brecker’s trumpet, Mats Holmquist’s arrangements and the UMO Jazz Orchestra, is a modern day classic. It teams one of the world’s great trumpeters Randy Brecker with the superb arranger Mats Holmquist and the mighty UMO Jazz Orchestra for a set of inventive and stimulating big band jazz. The large ensemble performs three Chick Corea classics, “Never Let Me Go,” and five stimulating Holmquist originals with swing, color and spirit.

Mats Holmquist’s utilizes the brilliant 18-piece UMO Jazz Orchestra in a memorable program that features the great trumpeter Randy Brecker along with such fine soloists as pianist Seppo Kantonen, trombonist Heikki Tuhkanen, trumpeter Mikko Pettinen, Ville Vannemaa on soprano, tenor-saxophonist Max Zenger and guitarist Mikel Ulfberg. The arrangements are unpredictable, consistently colorful, and keep one guessing.

The program on Together can easily be divided into three parts:

“One Million Circumstances,” “Summer And Winter” (which has two contrasting sections and some rambunctious trombone from Tuhkanen) and the lyrical ballad “Always Young” are Holmquist originals that feature complex but flawlessly played ensembles along with Brecker’s brilliant trumpet and flugelhorn.

Three arrangements are fresh reworkings of standards: “Never Let Me Go,” “All The Things You Are” (reinvented as an electrifying “All My Things”) and “Stella By Starlight” (which becomes “My Stella” which is coincidentally the name of both Holmquist and Brecker’s daughters). The latter has dense ensembles worthy of Stan Kenton sandwiching a swinging Brecker solo.

In addition, Mats Holmquist and UMO explore a trio of Chick Corea tunes: “Windows,” “Humpty Dumpty” and the rarely performed Corea ballad “Crystal Silence” which has some of Brecker’s prettiest playing.

During the past 50 years, Randy Brecker has been one of jazz’s greatest trumpeters. A household name ever since he teamed up with his late sibling tenor-saxophonist Michael Brecker as the Brecker Brothers in the 1970s, his endless list of associations include the Horace Silver Quintet, Dreams, Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House and nearly every significant jazz artist (and many in the pop world) of the past few decades. Brecker’s playing on Together by itself would result in him being ranked at the top of his field.

Born and raised in Sweden, Mats Holmquist has thus far composed and arranged the music for eight albums as a leader. He has worked with his Stora Stygga (Big Bad Band) in Europe, toured with Dave Liebman, and been innovative in what he calls ”Big Band Minimalism;” a combination of modern big band music with the minimalism of Steve Reich and John Adams.

Mats Holmquist’s arrangements have in recent time been featured on albums by the Dave Liebman Big Band (fresh versions of Wayne Shorter songs), Dick Oatts and members of the Vanguard Orchestra (Herbie Hancock compositions), and the Latvian Radio Big Band (2017’s Big Band Minimalism which has Randy Brecker among its main soloists). Holmquist’s writing, which challenges musicians and excites listeners, is quite original yet grounded in modern jazz while also displaying his love of classical music and the minimalism of Steve Reich.

UMO Jazz Orchestra, founded in 1975, has featured such guest soloists as Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Mc Coy Tyner, Michael Brecker and John Scofield. It is considered Finland’s finest big band.

Artist: Randy Brecker & Mats Holmquist with UMO Jazz Orchestra
Album: Together
Label: Mama Records MAA 1056
Street date: 8/24/2018

UMO is recruiting Artistic Director – Chief Conductor

Artistic Director – Chief Conductor

Your role
You are in charge of planning the orchestra’s seasonal concert programme, leading the orchestra’s rehearsals and conducting the orchestra in concerts. You are a visionary mind and not afraid of exploring new musical directions and forging new artistic collaborations. You possess great musical networks in both Finland and abroad, and you provide the face for the orchestra. You act as the superior and leading figure for the orchestra’s musicians and know how to make the most of a big band as an instrument. You are also active in strategical development.

We expect from You
Strong knowledge in jazz music, experience in artistic planning, visionary thinking and development-oriented approach. You understand the importance of balancing artistic and commercial interests and collaboration with the business world. Experience in musical composition, arrangement and management duties are an advantage.

We offer You
You will be leading Finland’s best big band and musicians and have versatile duties in a small but innovative and productive expert organisation. The starting date will be agreed individually, and the contract will cover the artistic planning of years 2020 and 2021 with a possibility for continuation. The role is part-time; you’ll conduct about 50 % of the concerts.

Send a free form application, including your CV and salary suggestion by Friday 7 September 2018 to eeva.pirkkala@umo.fi. Further information can be inquired from Managing Director Eeva Pirkkala on +358 4074 37141.

UMO Jazz Orchestra is a professional big band operating in the spheres of jazz and jazz-related music. Performing in roughly one hundred concerts and other events annually, UMO has issued approximately 50 albums and performed with both Finnish and international jazz giants since 1975. Their repertory ranges from jazz to soul and classical music, with a special emphasis on combining old and new in unexpected ways. In total, our music is enjoyed by 1 million listeners per year live and on concert recordings. In addition to 16 professional musicians, the orchestra employs 3 people in administration. UMO is a foundation owned by the City of Helsinki. Further information on www.umo.fi/en

Support concert & crowdfunding campaign for UMO

UMO has launched a crowdfunding campaign, which aims to secure a steadier financial future for the orchestra and protect its core values: maintaining a high artistic level, commissioning new compositions, offering versatile and appealing concert activity and inviting interesting soloists and conductors as guest stars. UMO’s economic situation has long been challenging and the city of Helsinki has now appointed an administrative authority to investigate the possibilities of the orchestra’s continuation. It is possible to take part in the crowdfunding campaign by joining ”Friends of UMO”, participating jazztasting, getting tickets to the concerts, buying a CD or helping to compose the most epic jazz song of Finland. Read more about the campaign and participate here (in Finnish only, sorry!).

Besides the crowdfunding campaign, UMO arranges a support concert Long Live UMO! Organised on 29 October 2018 at Finlandia Hall, UMO will share the stage with such artists as Anna Puu, Paleface, Jimi Tenor, Sami Pitkämö, Sami Saari, Aija Puurtinen, Higher Ground Vocals, Jukka Perko, Teemu Viinikainen, Jukka Eskola, Jaakko Kuusisto and Kerkko Koskinen, without forgetting a number of UMO alumni, e.g. Eero Koivistoinen, Olli Ahvenlahti, Jukkis Uotila, Pekka Sarmanto and Pentti Lahti. The concert will be immemorial night full of wonderful music from jazz to soul and pop.

Raise your voice for UMO!

We thank for co-operation: Musicians, Finlandia Hall, Ticketmaster Finland, Creative office Pilke 


Nicole Willis & UMO album is out

The second release on Persephone Records, titled My Name Is Nicole Willis by Nicole Willis & UMO Jazz Orchestra has released on September 29, 2017. The album is in digital, CD and LP format and distributed by Kudos Records.

Nicole Willis, known for her collaborations with The Soul Investigators & Jimi Tenor produces an album including some of the tracks she composed with the former as well as originals specifically for a fresh collaboration with UMO Jazz Orchestra. Jimi Tenor, who is a multi-faceted artist, has penned all arrangements for the big band and their talented rhythm section. Pete Toikkanen who is a mega-talent guitarist from The Soul Investigators, along with the two, composed those original tracks that highlight their alternative influences. Indie deity & personal hero of Ms Willis, Ian Svenonius introduces Ms Willis on the first track and wraps up the LP with a final plea.

UMO & Nicole Willis will head for a few gigs in spring 2018.

For more info, click here.

Year 2016 in a nutshell

English test text

41. toimintavuosi 2016

22 156 – UMOn konserteissa kävi 22 156 kuulijaa

106 – UMO esiintyi yhteensä 106 konsertissa, yleisötyötapahtumassa ja tilauskonsertissa

74 % – UMOn konserteista 74 % järjestettiin Helsingissä

319 – UMO esitti konserteissaan yhteensä 319 eri teosta

39 % – UMOn esittämistä teoksista 39 % oli suomalaisia

3 – UMO kantaesitti 3 uutta teosta

45 – UMO teetti 45 uutta big band -sovitusta

79 – UMO teki yhteistyötä 79 freelance-muusikon kanssa ollen Suomen merkittävimpiä jazzalan taiteellisia työllistäjiä