We Jazz festival begins in Helsinki today

The second We Jazz event showcases solid local and international talent, as well as special performances played in kitchens and a barber shop.

The week-long event We Jazz which had it’s successful debut in 2013 takes place in Helsinki on 8–13 December. We Jazz 2014 continues the search for new interesting venues in the city and presents a international cast of topical jazz artists across the genre's broad musical spectrum.

The official patron of We Jazz 2014, M.A. Numminen, will kick off the jazz week with a jazz themed performance at the opening concert at Aleksanterin teatteri. Jukka Eskola Soul Trio and Olavi Louhivuori Solo make their debut on stage while Kari Ikonen Trio and Elifantree present their new music. Jimi Tenor's solo piece Jazz à la Karma staged at the Jemma HKI barber shop promises to be a cosmic affair, and Lassy & Kontrafouris find sax man Timo Lassy and organ grinder Georgios Kontrafouris in a relaxed setting. 

The living legends of Finnish jazz, pianist Olli Ahvenlahti and saxophonist Eero Koivistoinen, will perform their compositions with a group consisting of three generations of jazzmen in a quintet assembled for the occasion. 

The international acts at We Jazz 2014 include the hotly-tipped gem of European jazz, Phronesis, the American rising-star trumpeter Avishai Cohen with his trio Triveni, the minimal jazz trailbralzers Dawn of Midi from Brooklyn, and Nils Wogram Root 70 with Strings, who present music from their excellent recent release, "Riomar". 

Three acts – Kannaste/Raghavan/Waits+, Loetjoenen/Maekynen+Richardson and Markus Pesonen Hendectet – combine Finnish and international talent. Pesonen’s rarely-seen international 11-piece orchestra includes players from 8 different nationalities.

We Jazz 2014 also presents four commisioned works which will step outside the traditional realm of a jazz event. Drummer Tatu Rönkkö of Elifantree and Efterklang finds his venue plus instruments in people’s kitchens for his solo percussion piece "I Play Your Kitchen".

The hotly-tipped trio Mopo will play a whopping 24 performances during 24 hours starting on Fri 12 December at noon. The most sought-after bass player in Finland, Antti Lötjönen, will perform with three groups at once on 10 December at Ääniwalli, assembling a performance which features the bands playing both simultaneously and separately.

This year We Jazz also expanded to fashion as well: On Thursday the 13 November, a "jazz concert meets fashion show" at Ääniwalli showcased the Nivesknits Fall-Winter 14-15 knitwear collection designed by the artistic director and We Jazz mastermind Matti Nives while the aptly-named Timo Lassy Fashion Quartet provided the live jazz for the event.