What a great night it was at the short-lived Helsinki Royal Cotton Club on 20 October 1995. On stage was the Finnish flagship big band, UMO Jazz Orchestra, with saxophonist Michael Brecker. The stars were certainly in the right positions on that dark autumn night.
When heard again twenty years later, the intense feeling and roaring energy jump right up at the listener.
The recording starts with all knobs turned far right and Brecker instantly lighting up and swinging in Invitation. A funky side is heard in Slang and tenderness is caught in Andrea’s Song.
The set of ten tunes also features Nica’s Dream and Nutville by Horace Silver, the ballad The Meaning of the Blues by Bobby Troup, and three songs by Brecker.
Worth mentioning is Kirmo Lintinen’s composition Ginare, where Brecker trades eights with 24-year-old fellow saxophonist Manuel Dunkel. A great moment, not only for Dunkel, who is nowadays a household name in Finnish jazz.
Some of the fusion stuff on this album may sound a bit dated today, but may age well.
UMO JAZZ ORCHESTRA WITH MICHAEL BRECKER: Live In Helsinki 1995
Random Act Records RAR1018CD