The Finnish Jazz Federation awarded saxophonist and composer Timo Lassy with the Yrjö Jazz Prize on Friday 30 October at the Pakkahuone venue in Tampere. Lassy has a 20-year career as one of the top musicians in the Finnish jazz scene.
Saxophonist, composer and band leader Timo Lassy has performed as a solo artist since 2007, during which time he has recorded eight solo albums. In 2018, his album Moves was awarded Jazz Album of the Year at the Emma Gala. This year, the German label Membran released his acclaimed live album Big Brass (Live at Savoy Theater Helsinki), which featured both Ricky-Tick Big Band's brass section and Lassy's own Timo Lassy Band. Prior to his solo career, Timo Lassy played in the hugely popular The Five Corners Quintet, which is considered to be the most important band of the new Finnish jazz generation. As a saxophonist, Lassy has done extensive freelance work, appearing on records and gigs by several artists, and composed and produced film music.
"Timo Lassy belongs to the absolute nobility of Finnish jazz", describes Jussi Fredriksson, a member of the Jazz Federation's jury.
"Lassy's soulful music has exceptionally enriched the field of Finnish jazz music during the past two decades. His rooted and immersive expression has captured the hearts of music lovers even outside the traditional jazz audience. He has a sharp compositional ear and a recognizable sound, he's a great instrumentalist and a fantastic band leader," Fredriksson continues the jury's rationale.
The Yrjö Prize itself is a work of art made by a different artist each year. This year’s Yrjö is a photographic print named Pohjanvalkeat by photographer Heikki Willamo.
The Varjo-Yrjö Prize, granted by the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle, was given to Tapio Ylinen, whose record label Eclipse Music has been one of the most active publishers of Finnish jazz since its founding in 2007. The label's catalog of about 130 albums, offers jazz in a wide range of styles. Ylinen also runs the Eclipse Jazz Club in Tampere and is a musician himself. The Varjo-Yrjö Prize was now awarded for the 18th time.
Since 1988, Finnish Jazz Federation has also awarded the facultative Andania Prize for long and meritorious work for Finnish jazz. This year, the Andania prize was give to radio journalist and writer Matti Laipio, who has a versatile career in the Finnish jazz field and has also had a significant period as chairman of the Jazz Association and a member of the board in the 1970s and 1990s.
The Yrjö Prize is an annual jazz award given to a Finnish jazz artist in acknowledgement of his or her outstanding contribution to Finnish jazz music. The award was launched in 1967.
The awards were given at the Pakkahuone club in Tampere on October 30, 2020 as part of the Tampere Jazz Happening festival.