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Ira Kaspi

singer/ composer/ lyricist

Ira Kaspi (b. 1964) appeared for the first time to the field of Finnish jazz music in the middle-1980s as the soloist of pianist-conductor Esko Linnavalli's band. Kaspi sang a lot in different jam sessions, for example in Pori Jazz, and tha music fascinated her so much that she moved to U.S. to study in the Berklee College of Music. After graduating from Berklee in 1990 Kaspi returned to Finland and performed with her own quartet consisting of pianist Frank Carlberg, bassist Pekka Sarmanto, drummer Markku Ounaskari, and of course Kaspi herself. Also saxophonist Jukka Perko featured the quartet once in a while, for example on the Helsinki Sea Jazz Festival in summer 1990.

In 1990s Kaspi was busy with other work and performed in the jazz field rarely but in the end of the decade a new quartet was born with pianist Sid Hille, bassist Tuure Koski and drummer Mika Kallio. The group recorded a radiotape in spring 2000 and was soon after that joined by guitarist Peter Engberg and the group got the name Town Beat. Most of the compositions and lyrics on the debut album Inner Voices (Texicalli 2001) were written by Kaspi and the music on the album combines stylishly jazz, pop and soul. Town Beat did a Finnish Jazz Federation's tour in April 2001 when Kaspi also performed as the soloist guest for UMO Jazz Orchestra.

In recent years Kaspi has performed actively with Peter Engberg. The duo has released four albums: the debut Standards (Impossible Music 2003) consisted of jazz and pop classics, the second, A Rose (Impossible Music 2007), had saxophonist Joonatan Rautio featuring on it, the third album was the thanked Ystävien kanssa (Impossible Music 2009), just as the fouth one, Mustavalkoisia sävyjä (Impossible Music 2010). Kaspi belonged also to the female jazz group, Jazzsiskot ry, and with two singers, Riikka Timonen and Eeppi Ursin, Kaspi formed a trio called Castafioren korut. The repertoire of the trio consisted of compositions from the singers and also other musicians.

Kaspi has so far also released three soloalbums. The most recent one, the jazz standard album You and the Night and the Music (2012) is a beautiful work of the Jazzdive group, Mikko Hassinen, Mikael Jakobsson, Jussi Kannaste and Markku Ounaskari, and the City Orchestra of Lohja. Kaspi's husband, bass player Ape Anttila, worked as a producer for the album. With Anttila Kaspi also runs the RytmiOmena music school in Lohja. RytmiOmena has as one of the first schools developped the rhythm music education already from the toddler level and it provides education on the basic education level of rhythm music. Besides RytmiOmena Kaspi teaches pop & jazz singing in Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.