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Max Zenger

b. 1988

Saxophonist and woodwind specialist Max Zenger has been appointed as the new 2nd alto saxophonist of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra from August 2023 on.

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 and the artistic director of Porvoo Jazz Festival.

Zenger has released ten albums 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. He assumes his new permanent duties in August 2023.

Zenger’s 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.

– 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.