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Finnish jazz benefits from more international contacts

An interview with Mika Mylläri by Tapani Lausti

Jazz is the music of the unexpected, so it is always exciting to see what happens when you throw together musicians from different backgrounds. This was certainly the case when in September the Ed Jones band was joined for a short tour by two Finnish jazz musicians. Photo from Westgate Jazz Club, Oxford: Mika Mylläri, Ed Jones and Mikko Mustonen

As Jones had wanted to add one trumpet player and one trombone player to his line-up, two obvious names came up: Mika Mylläri, an acclaimed trumpeter and composer, and Mikko Mustonen, a member of the trombone section of the internationally renowned UMO Big Band and also an accomplished soloist.

Mylläri and Mustonen were extremely pleased with the tour. Mustonen said that it was the best musical experience in his career. In an interview with Eagle Street, just before his second tour with Ed Jones in December, Mylläri said that, amazingly, the music that the British-Finnish band played didn’t sound like the typical collaborative venture. The music really came together. This was helped by the fact that Jones’s and Mylläri’s compositions seemed to draw from similar sources of inspiration.

"The most difficult thing to tackle for both Mikko and myself was the extremely energetic nature of Ed’s band. From my past experience with similar bands, I knew that I would have to find that extra energy but I was still surprised how strong the musical interpretations were."

Mylläri, who has himself played in several countries, notably in France and the United States, thinks that Finnish musicians would gain from more international experiences.

photo from Westgate Jazz Club, the Ed Jones Quintet"The standard of musicianship in Finland is very high. There are plenty of young players with an amazing technique. But they lack opportunities to play and when they go abroad they tend to bring their own bands, which doesn’t give them the chance to draw inspiration from a different culture."

Comparing musicianship in Finland and Britain, Mylläri said that in his home country there was a lot of respect for sheet music -- partly because of the classical background of many jazz musicians -- whereas in Britain the musicians are more likely to respect the music as it is played. "This makes them perhaps more adventurous, and it is helped by the opportunity to participate in jam sessions -- a traditional jazz education currently not part of the Finnish jazz scene."

Photographs by Sissle Honoré

See also:

You might also want to take a look at The Jonathan Gee Trio web pages.

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