Sunday, August 03, 2008

Otava Jazz Camp 2008

Spent last week again at Otava Jazz Camp as I have done since 1996 missing only a couple of summers. Otavan Opisto (a junior college) is located in St. Michaels, Finland and the natives are friendly. The college personnel are very helpful and want to create a pleasant environment for jazz studies.

The student group consisted of some 50 players and singers divided into six combos. And the singers had an a Capella nonet, too. I knew most of the students from the past courses although there were some newcomers, too. There was plenty of laughing and good spirits as before.

The theme for this course was "time". The topic was competently introduced by the course leader Wade Mikkola and visiting teacher from Canada, Alan Matheson. I had a chance to talk with Alan several times. He also gave a clinic to all wind players together with trombonist Pekka Leander. Alan is a very pleasant and interesting person besides being a top-notch musician, composer and arranger.

Wade Mikkola, bass
Alan Matheson, trp and piano

I was placed in a group coached by pianist Lasse Hirvi. Lasse was new at Otava, but demonstrated his skills and experience very fast. He was a patient teacher who found ways to get his message across and get the program ready for the performance.

At Wednesday night we performed in the nearby Kissakoski restaurant three pieces:
  • D.C. Farewell by Richie Cole
  • Them There Eyes (with vocalist Helena Tuokkola)
  • Our delight by Tadd Dameron
The performance was well received and the audience acknowledged the solos, too. In this combo we had:
Mikko Heikkinen, accordion
Matti Haatanen, vibraphone
Jouko Lahtiranta, drums
Antti Teinilä, bass
Veli-Pekka Kuuranne, trumpet
Hannu Luukannel, trombone and
Harri Rautiainen, alto and tenor sax

TuuliOverall the week was hard work, but also plenty of fun. I think that the results and standards were raised from the year before. The course secretary Tuuli Mäenpää took care of all possible and impossible requests; my thanks to Tuuli (on the left).

Did I miss something? Yes, a saxophone teacher would have been nice to have there.
Would I go next year again. You bet!

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