June 1998                                                        


Ed Jones Quintet’s adventures in Finland
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"This is not a Quintet tour, but a golf tournament with the players finding time to play a few tunes in between!"

Mika Mylläri

This diary was kept by Sissle Honoré who was the Tour Manager. She is a London-based, Danish photographer who also took the pictures on this page.

Heathrow Airport, 20 May 1998

6am in the morning is a tricky time for anyone, but for a bunch of jazz musicians, more used to going to bed at this time rather than waking up, dealing with reality at this time of day may be lethal – judging by their facial expressions at least. Amazingly they were all there: Ed Jones with his saxophones, Jonathan Gee, without his grand piano, Geoff Gascoyne with his double bass and Winston Clifford with his drum set.

Oulu, Finland, 20 May

Trumpeter Mika Mylläri having joined the band at Helsinki Airport, the full Quintet arrives in the northern city of Oulu, a dive in the deep end of the country for most band members, who have never been in Finland before.

In a downstairs bar, nobody in the audience seems to notice that the band haven’t slept much the previous night. In truth, nobody in the audience seems to notice anything at all. Had one returned to England immediately after this gig, an Englishman might have concluded that the Finns drink a lot. Of course this is a myth which is almost disproved during the rest of the tour.

Kainuu Jazz Festival, Kajaani, 21-23 May

The Festival is mainly held at the Scandic Hotel in Kajaani. This year the main attractions, in addition to the Ed Jones Quintet, are Arturo Sandoval, Airto Moreira & Flora Purim, The Rosenberg Trio and The Ray Gelato Giants. Even the Finnish minister of culture, Claes Andersson, puts in a good performance as a jazz pianist.

The band members of the EJQ also get to play outside the Quintet. Mika and Ed perform a well-received Drum ‘n’ Bass project with local musicians. The bass player Geoff Gacoyne joinswinston.jpg (62025 bytes) Mika and a group of dancers in a performance in a nearby museum. The pianist Jonathan Gee plays a duo concert in the big concert hall with the drummer Winston Clifford. In a moment of magic Winston sits down on the floor in front of his drums and sings "My Funny Valentine" to Jonathan’s soft accompaniment.

Really, the tour is well disguised as a series of jazz concerts, but we can let you into a secret: in reality, it is the Ed Jones Quintet World Golf Tournament. It began when the Quintet was touring Scotland, the birth place of golf, last December. Since then, the band has been practising their "swing" for the Finnish tour.

Veli’s Sauna, Kajaani, 24 May

In the fourteen years of the Kainuu Jazz Festival, Veli, the sauna master, has never heard any of the visiting jazz musicians play. But, as he points out, not many people get to talk to Dizzy Gillespie in the nude. Veli feels that he gets to know all the musicians (Joe Henderson, Georgie Fame, Dizzy etc) just as well by talking to them, man to man, in the heat of the sauna.

Kuhmo, 24 May

Before heading for the south, the Quintet is invited to give a concert in the new beautiful, all-birch concert hall of Kuhmo. Since the opening of the venue, the EJQ is only the second jazz band allowed to perform in it. Normally the hall is used for classical music. The band gives a mesmerising concert, proving that jazz can also be enjoyed outside smokey bars.

Kokkola, 25-26 May

After a masterclass in the local youth club and a feast in the local yacht club, the Quintet plays in a small hotel bar packed to the rim with a very attentive audience. The listeners are completely unaware of Ed’s painful tooth ache. As if trying to play the pain away, he delivers a powerful and outstanding solo which makes the audience to sit on the edge of their chairs. Next morning, Ed himself is on the edge of a dentist’s seat, only moments before a recording session in the living room of Mika’s parents old wooden house. Still partly under local anaesthetic, Ed has difficulty to form the right embrasure with his lips. Finland’s number one sound engineer, Jan, is driven crazy by the session which lasts well into the night with endless re-takes. Ed prays that the out-takes will never be released.

Vaasa, Pori & Turku 27-29 May

In between a lot of travelling and singing-along to nasty tunes from the sixties, there are some memorable images and soundbites: a sunset seen from the top-floor sauna of Hotel Jazz in Pori; Winston’s solo rendition of the Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody"; not to forget the horror on Geoff’s face when a waiter pushes his bass over in a Turku restaurant; or the extreme disappointment on Mika’s face when his golf ball, for the umpteenth time, lands in a sandpit; or the excitement on someone’s face when they think they might have seen an elk through the window of the tour bus. Five musicians roaming through the Finnish landscape can get up to all sorts of surprising and scary things.

 

See also:

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


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