OLD TIME JAZZ BAND
The basic personnel:
PERTTI MUSTONEN, CO; JOUKO KESKIMÄKI, TB;
One of the original members, Tapani Renkonen, in fact the only one who has continuously been serving the band from the very beginning, has retired in 2006 and joined even more closely to the "Jassper" band, which stays for the retired ones.
After the late Jussi Valto it was very hard to find a new man to this post. We had to use several temporary bassists during our rehearsals and performings. Then it was a great pleasure for us to have a really outstanding man to the task - Pekka Sarmanto, who has won lots of global references, too.
Pirjo Bergström has been for years our own vocalist but she happens to have had so much other interests on the theatre field so that no time was left for jazz - we had to seek also a new vocalist. During the last year we have been pleased to have opportunity to perform with both Hannah Wilson and Marle Mikkola. Depending on the situation each of them can perform with us nowadays.
Old Time Jazz Band was founded in 1957 and is the oldest group in its genre still performing in Finland. It concentrates on traditional jazz. Joe "King" Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet, Kid Ory and Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton were the main sources of inspiration.
The music is based on collective improvisation, the main feature of genuine New Orleans jazz, and includes many rare numbers made famous by Great Jazz Pioneers. Today many own compositions have been added to the repertoire but the "Old Time Style" has been carefully preserved.
Old Time Jazz Band has been performing regularly in Finland and abroad over the last two decades.
In 1984, the band published the first LP with Reine Rimon on vocals. The year 1986 marked a turning point in the history of OTJB when it performed at the 17th New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival as the only European band invited. The second LP was cut in NO on the very same tour with the speciality to have also well-known New Orleans musicians, Michael White and Gregg Stafford, as solists on some tracks.
In 1997 the band published its first CD, "OLD TIME JAZZ", with Pirjo Bergström on vocals to solemnize our 40th anniversary. Pirjo Bergström, has a fresh relation to jazz. The band members discovered her as a jazz vocalist in 1995 when she was performing in a theatre drama of Billie Holiday's life.
The Finnish Jazz Organization rewarded OTJB with "Andania"-prize for the outstanding work in declaring the traditional jazz message to the Finnish public.
Lately Gospel music has found its way to the band's repertoire, too. Pirjo's deep and powerful interpretation has become familiar to many people in Finland. The band has been invited to play Gospel in over 50 churches. Our fourth recording, "OLD TIME GOSPEL", took place live in the wooden church of Pukkila, 1999.
The founder members, Pertti Mustonen and Tapani Renkonen, have made the arrangements for the band, although there isn't very much to be arranged because every member has in principle the right to interpret the tune with his personal mood at the moment within the chords of the composition.
That is the law to keep collective improvisation fresh and relaxing.
To celebrate the band's 45th anniversary OTJB has recorded a new CD which consists only of own compositions more accurately, entirely by our cornetist Pertti Mustonen.
OTJB has toured on gap years using many assisting deputies. We got unexpected mourning message of the death of Pirjo Bergström 05/15/2011. We had a sorrowfull mission then to play gospel tunes in her funeral service at St John's Church. It took then only two years and we lost Timo Peltoniemi, 08/06/2013. He had played with us for a long time. Appearances continued to fall. The orchestra was no longer in good hit.
This year, 2017, there were still three of us playing as a duet or trio. Unexpectedly Pertti died in the end of May leaving duet the only way to keep on the jazz message.
It was Pertti Mustonen with his trumpet who got it all started. Now even he was no longer playing his horn, because it was too demanding to keep on the embouchure. His instrument was now piano, playing based on the skills until adolescence years. Juhani Piha is still in good hit, thanks to "Jassper". Tapani Renkonen, after finishing active career in 2006, still plays clarinet but even he is no longer playing his sopraanosax.
The attached photo showing ”Jassper Trio” at Pertti’s home still tells of the great passion that broke out about 60 years ago concentraining to century-old traditional jazz. Music sheet on piano is Jelly Roll Morton's composition, "The Pearls".
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