The Tampere Jazz Happening of 2020 will be remembered as an exceptional festival year in many ways. During four days, the festival venues were, as usual, filled with high-quality concerts. However, for the first time in the festival’s 39 years, the programme consisted completely of Finnish musicians. This year, the event also expanded from the Tullikamari plaza to listeners at home, since all the Pakkahuone concerts were streamed live to online audiences both in Finland and abroad.
Due to the coronavirus restrictions, only approximately a third of a regular year’s tickets were sold to the venues. The initial estimate of the number of visitors at Pakkahuone and Telakka was over 1200, and the festival was filled up to 95 % of the regular capacity of seats. The live stream broadcast on Thursday evening’s free-of-charge concerts had an incredible 1,200 online viewers, and tens of online tickets were sold to each of the streamed concerts. The live stream broadcasts are still available for purchase and can be viewed for a duration of seven days after each concert.
This year, the theme of the opening concert was ‘jazz from Tampere’, represented by Kielo Kärkkäinen & Taming May, Masa Orpana Honk, and Utopianisti. On Friday, the Finnish Jazz’s prestigious Yrjö award was granted to the saxophonist Timo Lassy, and the Andania award for lifetime achievement was given to journalist Matti Laipio. Further highlights on Saturday included the evening event at Pakkahuone, featuring concerts by Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen as well as Antti Lötjönen Quintet East.
Sunday’s concerts returned to the theme of local jazz when Verneri Pohjola & Tuomo Prättälä and Timo Lassy Band took the stage, as did Mortality, which included compositions by Tapio Ylinen, who was awarded this year’s Varjo-Yrjö recognition award. The late evening concluded at Telakka with a performance by Matti Salo Quartet – also from Tampere.
Altogether, 18 ensembles performed at the Tampere Jazz Happening this year. Several generations of musicians encountered at the festival, the younger generation including Amanda Blomqvist and Selma Savolainen, both born in the 1990s, and the older generation including veterans of Finnish jazz such as the legendary Reiska Laine Quintet.
Despite all the special arrangements this year, the mood at the festival was heartfelt and warm, and people in the audience seemed to genuinely find joy in this opportunity to experience live music together. The 40th Tampere Jazz Happening will be organized between 4th and 7th November 2021.
Spotlight on Tampere stream (available until 5 November 2020)
Tampere Jazz Happening Special by Finnish Broadcasting Company (available for 29 days)