Now I’m doing alright. The first part of the year was hard because there were no gigs. In the summer there were a few and this autumn is looking good as far as gigs go.
Having performed for the first time in July 2019, Reiska Laine Quintet is your first own ensemble. Why just now, even though you have been a professional musician for 55 years?
At times I’ve had temporary groups named after me for a gig or two. But I haven’t really had the need to start my own band because I have played in so many great ensembles.
How does being the bandleader and performing specifically as Reiska Laine Quintet affect your own playing and the dynamics of the band?
Reiska Laine Quintet does carry my name, but we make the decisions together. Usually, we play our own music, compositions by the band members.
In your quintet, you have two saxophonists that you have known from the beginning of your career in the 1960s. How do these long musical relationships affect the music? Can it even be harmful to know someone’s manners so well?
When I thought of starting a band of my own, the idea was especially to get both Aaltonen and Koivistoinen to join. They haven’t really played in the same band, except in the Umo big band a long, long time ago. I have learned a lot with these saxophonists and I am very grateful for that. The third important Finnish saxophonist is the late Pekka Pöyry, who influenced me a lot at the beginning of my career. There are only upsides in having played together for so long, and even more now when I got Krokfors and Kantonen to join the ensemble.
Your quintet could be called Reiska Laine and the four Yrjös [Georgies] since every one of you has received the Yrjö [Georgie] Award of the Finnish Jazz Federation. What does that kind of recognition signify?
The appreciation of jazz music and jazz musicians in Finland is shamefully low, so the Yrjö [Georgie] means a lot. The fact that all the band members are winners guarantees that we play good music and that performing is rewarding to the audience as well as ourselves.
What’s going to happen?
Everything is looking good and listeners are gradually returning to concerts, and we hope the situation keeps getting better. We are thrilled about being chosen to perform at the upscale Tampere Jazz Happening in 2020.