Olavi Virta is a true legend in Finnish musical history. On this record, classic Finnish tango evergreens made popular by the vocalist receive a virtuosic revamping by Jukka Perko and Hurmio-Orkesteri. This recording is also historic in the sense that it is the first Finnish recording released on the Blue Note label.
The record has achieved great critical acclaim in Finland. It was awarded the Emma statue in 2000 for the best jazz recording. The Emma statue is awarded by the Finnish division of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. In addition to topping the polls in both alto, and soprano saxophone categories, Jukka Perko was voted musician of the year in the critic's poll of the Finnish jazz publication, "Jazzrytmit". "Music of Olavi Virta" was voted album of the year, Teppo Makynen drummer of the year, and Manuel Dunkel tenor saxophonist of the year.
Olavi Virta has been one of Jukka Perko's greatest influences since childhood. He wanted to honor Virta's music by arranging some of it for a jazz group. Using a pair of stereo microphones, (in true 50's fashion) Jukka Perko and Hurmio-Orkesteri (Jukka Perko, alto sax, Manuel Dunkel, tenor sax, Lasse Lindgren, bass, and Teppo Mäkynen, drums) recorded such tango classics as: "Ecstasy", "Tango Desiree" and "Jealousy".
"The Music of Olavi Virta" is a great example of Jukka Perko's excellent ability to create interesting and original arrangements of familiar tunes, opening new musical dimensions within the pieces, while preserving a strong respect for the Finnish tango tradition.
Facts about Jukka Perko:
32-year old saxophonist Jukka Perko has already had an impressive career as a jazz musician by any form of measurement. He experienced his breakthrough at the Pori Jazz festival in 1986, accompanied by critical acclaim. A year later he was touring Europe and America as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's Big Band. In addition to playing gigs, Jukka began his studies at the Sibelius Academy's jazz department in 1987. That is where he met his future bandmate, Severi Pyysalo.
In 1989, Perko joined UMO (The New Music Orchestra) the only professional big band in Finland, and stayed in the band for five years. Jukka left the group to devote his attention to composing, various projects, and most prominently, his career as a soloist. During his career, Perko has won numerous awards: The Finnish Jazz Federation's Yrjö award in 1989, the Finland Festivals young artist award in 1993, the Emma award for best jazz record with Perko-Pyysalo Poppoo in 1993 as well as the Pori Jazz young artist award in 1994.
Besides touring with Dizzy Gillespie, Perko has also played with such musicians as Niels-Henning Ørsted-Pedersen, Red Rodney ja McCoy Tyner.