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UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra

Last Dance – New Music for Jazz Orchestra by Ed Partyka


Cover: Nicole Blasounig

Album information

PerformerUMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra
TypeLP, digi

Äänitykset: Markus Ketola, assistentit Valtteri Pokela, Ilkka Ferm; Savoy-teatterin liveäänitys Heikki Iso-Ahola
Miksaus ja masterointi: Philipp Heck (Bauer Studios, Ludwigsburg)
Kansitaide: Nicole Blasounig
Design: Michel Holzapfel

Where recordedKaapelitehdas ja Savoy-teatteri


UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra released the album Last Dance – New Music for Jazz Orchestra by Ed Partyka at the end of January 2022. The album is the first conducted by Ed Partyka, the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra’s current artistic director.

The collaboration between UMO and Ed Partyka barely got off to a start when Covid-19 took over the world in March 2020. All the great plans and bright ideas went to waste and “the new normal” started. UMO’s headquarters at the old cable factory Kaapelitehdas in Helsinki was converted into a studio and streamed concerts and other digital content became the order of the day. This was the inaugural production at UMO’s new studio, with three of the four titles being recorded there in September 2020.

“I am very happy with my first album as chief conductor of the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra. This special recording contains music written during the first year of my tenure, which also happened to be the first year of the pandemic,” Partyka says. ”The recording itself was made possible by concert cancellations, If concerts had not been cancelled due to the pandemic we would have never had the studio time to be able to record this project. So even though the pandemic caused great disruption and hardship, there were positive things that were made possible by an otherwise negative situation. I love writing for and working with these excellent Finnish musicians, and it is an honor to lead this wonderful orchestra. UMO has a long history of excellence and a rich tradition steeped in the roots of jazz (both American and European), and it is my ongoing goal to respect these traditions and build on the history of the orchestra by bringing in new influences and ideas.”

On this album UMO’s expanded instrumentation consists of an acoustic rhythm section, five trumpets, French horn, three trombones, tuba and all five saxophone players doubling admirably on a wide variety of woodwind instruments, from flute to contrabass clarinet (and almost everything in-between). Thanks to this impressive array of instruments in the hands of the outstanding musicians of UMO, the soundscape of the album is lush and fervent and Partyka’s sonorous voicings and rich harmonies provide a warm and luxurious orchestral cushion for melancholy melodies and expressive improvised solos.

Originally hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Ed Partyka has lived and worked in Europe since 1990, mainly in the German speaking countries. As a conductor and arranger, he has collaborated with many top European Big Bands and mentions Bob Brookmeyer as a significant artistic mentor – perhaps no wonder, Partyka’s instruments being the bass trombone and tuba. He has played on over sixty albums, eleven of which have been released under his own name.

“The long tradition of the orchestra continues successfully with the Last Dance”
– LP Magazin (DE)


  1. G.G.’s Last Dance
  2. Para Nada
  3. Dienda
  4. Do As I Say (Not as I do)