July 2000

Mika Mylläri stars in Pori Jazz

As this year’s Pori Jazz Festival got under way, Mika Mylläri was celebrated in the press as the busiest participator. The trumpeter/composer has more gigs during the nine-day festival than anyone else. Mylläri’s work also celebrates the centenary of Louis Armstrong’s birth, an anniversary underlined by the presence of prominent American trumpeters like Freddie Hubbard, Nicholas Payton, Tim Hagans, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker and Mark Isham.

In the press coverage, Mylläri’s collaboration with the British saxophonist/composer Ed Jones – often highlighted on these pages – was mentioned. The leading national daily, Helsingin Sanomat (15 July 2000), also quoted Mylläri’s comments on the British music scene. He said that like Mylläri himself, Jones is basically a bop player, but like many British musicians, finds it easy to participate in other genres like techno music.

“As British commercial music has a long tradition, jazz musicians think it only natural to play in all sorts of hip hop bands.”

In Finland this sort of thing is still more difficult, says Mylläri. He told the paper that his and Jones’s CD will be out soon; it will be all acoustic music.

“In the end, the techno effect is down to imagination and machines aren’t really needed.”

According to the article in Helsingin Sanomat, Mylläri has an optimistic attitude to the future of jazz in spite of being squeezed between commercial mass culture and establishment culture. He believes that good music will be acknowledged sooner or later. Mylläri emphasises that he is not in a hurry – he has even declined recording opportunities. He has been biding his time while looking during his travels for a common musical denominator, some central idea of music’s content.

“The sound and style one learns or feels instinctively but I am interested in why music is being played and why it is important for yourself.”

“Lately I have not been studying composing technique but what one wants to say with music. In this learning process one needs to read about all sorts of things and go far from the ordinary.”

… and to the internet

Another recent article in the Finnish press highlighted the Polar Jazz 2000 project. The news weekly, Suomen Kuvalehti (22 June 2000), reported on the concerts at Vortex Jazz Club and Bath Jazz Festival where Mika Mylläri and Ed Jones’s collaboration produced highly successful results.

In an interview for the magazine, Mylläri explained how important this kind of cultural exchange is. In his view, it is important not only to the musicians but broadly speaking to the music in general.

“We are looking for meeting of minds with new artists. The genre of jazz is highly individualised. The idea we have is to promote a feeling of communality. Personally, I look at making art as a collective thing. Co-operation is important.”

Similar thoughts exist elsewhere, too. Polar Jazz promises to continue next year. The aim is to cross more borders.

“I would like to include new media and interesting thinkers. The aim is to create networks if only for practical reasons.”

In new media Mylläri is interested, for example, in the added marketing possibilities created by Internet. Internet has also made creating new contacts much easier. There are top class musicians in Finland but on a national level jazz is marginal music. Internet could offer one route to the world.

Mylläri also has a dream of bringing Polar Jazz to Finland. Autumn 2001 is a possibility. “But one has to think about the forum. Should it be in connection with some other event? Perhaps Polar Jazz could be some sort of educational project in Finland. This could help to open some money taps also here.”


See also:

Polar Jazz: European jazz redefined by Chris Parker

Focus, Summer 2000

BURN: "Dynamic project"

30 May 2000

BURN at Vortex and Bath Jazz Festival

29 May 2000

Northern Lights over Stoke Newington

26 May 2000

Wheeler and Mikkonen open Polar Jazz at Vortex

25 May 2000


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