May 2000

Wheeler and Mikkonen open Polar Jazz at Vortex

Polar Jazz week at Vortex Jazz Bar in North London began on Wednesday (24 May) with a stunning three-hour concert which electrified the atmosphere in this legendary jazz venue. Kenny Wheeler's trumpet and flugelhorn sound resonated around the room with powerful beauty which gave the audience everything that they had expected from this great musician.

But this was not just a concert by a star soloist backed by three accompanying musicians. The music created by Wheeler and Samuli Mikkonen's Trio had the kind of mutual affinity and interplay which normally takes a long time to emerge. "This group sounded as if they had been playing regularly together", was how one musician in the audience put it.

Pianist Samuli Mikkonen, bassist Jorma Ojanperä and drummer Markku Ounaskari are wonderful examples of interpreters of jazz who, in spite of their youthg, incorporate a deep understanding of the jazz tradition in their playing and simultaneously allow other musical influences into their thinking. But, then again, this also has always been part of the excitement of jazz. Great jazz musicians have been avid listeners of all the musical sounds and rhythms of the world.

The calm poise of the musicians on the stage on Wednesday evening belied the intensity of the music played. Even during slow pieces like Mikkonen's "Syys" (Autumn), the music's power was evident. The group made an old standard like "If I Should Lose You" sound fresh and contemporary. The rest of the pieces played were Wheeler's and Mikkonen's original compositions.

Over the years, Vortex has offered London audiences many unforgettable experiences. Wheeler's meeting with the young Finnish musicians was certainly one of them. The concert was recorded by BBC Radio 3.


See also:

Polar Jazz kicks off

20 May 2000

Kenny Wheeler featured in Polar Jazz

14 April 2000

Ed Jones Quintet's adventures in Finland

June 1998

"A taut front line": Jones and Mylläri tour Scotland and Finland

February 1998

Ed Jones adds Finnish flavour to his jazz band by Chris Parker

January 1998

Finnish jazz benefits from more international contacts

January 1998


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