National Jazz Convention – The Splendor of the Award Ceremony and the Future Prospects of the Finnish Jazz Industry

Valtteri Pokela

The Finnish Jazz Federation organizes the National Jazz Convention, which last for two days, in connection with the Tampere Jazz Happening every autumn for its members. The Jazz Convention includes the association’s annual general meeting as well as discussions and educational sessions related to the field. During the event, the most prestigious awards in the field are also presented.

This year’s National Jazz Convention opens on Friday at Tampere Hall, where under the leadership of the Chairman and Executive Producer of Viapori Jazz ry, along with the Artistic Director of the Hamina Tattoo Festival, Lassi Ikäheimo, there will be a discussion on inspiring decision-makers to engage with jazz.

The recipient of the 2023 Yrjö Award will be announced at Tampere´s Pakkahuone on Friday, November 3rd, at 7:00 PM as part of the Tampere Jazz Happening program. After the ceremony, the awarded artist will perform a short concert with their band. In previous years, the award has been granted to trumpeter Jukka Eskola (2022), drummer Mikko Hassinen (2021), saxophonist Timo Lassy (2020) and pianist Riitta Paakki (2019).

The physical Yrjö Award piece will also be revealed on the stage of Pakkahuone. The award is a commissioned work of art for the respective musician, created by a contemporary and accomplished Finnish visual artist or craftsman. This year, the award statue was created by visual artist Jussi Goman. Goman graduated with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki in 2008. His works are included in collections such as the Finnish state, the Helsinki Art Museum and Kiasma.

Yksityiskohta Jussi Gomanin taideteoksesta. Mm. ruskea paksumpi viiva kulkee taulun poikki ja oikealla näkyy kirkkaan sininen läiskä.

Detail of the 2023 Yrjö Award artwork created by Jussi Goman

The Finnish Jazz Federation’s new annual Taimi Award is granted to a young musician who passionately develops their own musical expression. With this award, the Jazz Federation aims to encourage young talents to bravely seek and showcase their own voice. The Taimi Award includes performance opportunities at three domestic jazz festivals, which change annually. This year’s award concert festivals are Pori Jazz, Porvoo Jazz, and the InkJazz festival in Kouvola. In addition, the Finnish Jazz Federation offers the first recipient of the Taimi Award a concert at the Jazz-Espa Festival, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next summer.

Yle Jazzradio also presents its own “Shadow Yrjö” Award (Varjo-Yrjö) during the award ceremony, honoring work in favor of jazz culture.

After the Finnish Jazz Federation’s regular autumn meeting on Saturday, November 4th, at Tampere Hall, there will be a discussion on the measures towards more sustainable touring, following the Jazz Federation’s climate roadmap. In addition, there will be a discussion on increasing the accessibility of jazz through joint efforts – to which saxophonist and composer Max Zenger will provide an inspirational speech on the world of audience development in jazz.

In the cover photo, the 2022 Yrjö Award recipient, trumpeter Jukka Eskola and his Jukka Eskola Soul Trio band. Photo: Maarit Kytöharju