In November 2011, I visited the Koko Jazz Club, and stated that it was the only true jazz club in Helsinki. Well, this last invitation from them was truly a game changer on the Finnish jazz scene. I would like to change that statement and stand by the fact that this club, as of now, is the only true jazz club in Finland.
This is obviously presupposing that we know what a true jazz club is. Let me clarify. A jazz club should be a place to hear live musicians, playing some of the best music they can pull out their energetic minds. A place where people can socialize, enjoy a drink and be at one with the music. A venue where there is the utmost respect for the atmosphere around you, a programme with international flavour, and Koko Jazz Club has it all in the best doses.
My host and newbie father (his newborn daughter was coming home from the hospital on the night of the gig) Timo Hirvonen and his team, has produced a supreme turnaround at the new venue. Having moved to the location in February 2012, a lot of time and effort has gone into the regeneration of the club.
Always greeted with smiles, your first impression is wow. Welcomed by the huge sweeping staircase which is adorned with photographs of previous musicians that Koko has hosted, you enter into an open lounge. Leave the days’ events aside. This is chill and relax with a glass of wine time or kick back with a beer moment. The seated area itself at stage level, can easily hold around 100 people, with the lounge area and standing room in excess of that.
The night I was there, the place was pretty packed. The excellent music was provided by Grammy Award winning Randy Brecker on trumpet, the brilliance of Joonatan Rautio on sax, the ambidextrous professor on keys Jukkis Uotila, the groove of Jussi Lehtonen on drums and of course, our host Timo Hirvonen on bass. The sound at the club is great. The acoustics are balanced, no over amplification, enough reinforcement and well mannered in all areas, even in the lounge. Perfect for listening to some Skunk Funk, the high octane Brecker classic, simply a joy to savour.
Big plans lie ahead, with an expansive outlook to what’s on offer. All the pieces are in place, an in-house chef, great staff, good programming and a location that can increase capacity levels to that of small concert halls. Really looking forward to seeing the success of this place in my home town. Will be closely following and updating you good folk on their activities, so stay tuned.
Get yourself down to the hottest place in Helsinki, to hear the coolest cats in town.
Picture Credit: © The Image of Jazz